May 15, 2016
The Senate reconvened on Monday, May 9, 2016 and the House of Representatives reconvened on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Donald Trump traveled to Capitol Hill on Thursday, May 12, to meet with Republican leaders. The Senate was able to reach consensus on the Energy-Water appropriations measure this week, following three weeks of disagreement on the bill. Meanwhile, House lawmakers focused on 18 bills in the House of Representatives that dealt with the opioid epidemic. The Senate Armed Services Committee also marked up the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017 this week.
Top issues in Congress this week included:
The Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m. Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:30 p.m., at which point it will proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of Paula Xinis of Maryland, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland. The Senate will vote on the nomination at 5:30 p.m.
The House of Representatives and Senate prepare for a weeklong effort to advance appropriations measures, according to a number of announcements Friday by House and Senate appropriators. The House may also consider the Puerto Rico measure that failed to gain traction this week.
On the House side, lawmakers are planning to release the text of their fiscal 2016 Zika supplemental spending bill on Monday. The legislation will reveal how much money Republicans deem necessary to combat the mosquito-borne illness between now and Sept. 30 when the fiscal year ends, while also revealing what cuts Republicans plan to make to pay for the bill. Several Republicans have gone on record saying that Zika spending will not be deemed an emergency measure. Therefore, whatever lawmakers discuss will be subject to the spending caps agreed to in last year’s budget deal (PL 114-74).
On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee will set parameters for floor debate on the Zika bill, as well as the $81.6 billion Military Construction–VA spending bill (HR 4974). As the first of the 12 regular appropriations bills to hit the House floor this year, Capitol Hill will be watching the number and tone of amendments offered as a predictor for the appropriations process this year. Furthermore, Republican leadership has stated on a number of occasions that it will move all 12 spending bills this year, leading all eyes to focus on how quickly the Mil-Con VA bill can be advanced.
Tuesday will also be the day House appropriators mark up in the full Appropriations Committee the $517.1 billion Defense and $3.5 billion Legislative Branch spending bills.
In the Senate, lawmakers will continue work on the $56.5 billion Transportation-HUD bill (S 2844) when the chamber reconvenes on Monday. Zika will also be discussed in that chamber, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) announced senators would vote on three amendments that would provide approximately $1.1 billion, even though the administration $1.9 billion in emergency funding for address the virus.
If the Senate can move swiftly through the Transportation-HUD bill, the $83 billion Military Construction-VA bill (S 2806), which is being moved through the chamber on the same fiscal 2016 House shell bill, could make an appearance.
The Senate’s Agriculture subcommittee is expected to markup the $21.2 billion Agriculture bill on Tuesday. The full committee will mark up the Agriculture bill as well as the $4.4 billion Legislative Branch bill on Thursday.
President Barack Obama will host the president of Finland and the prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland at the White House for a U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit. In the evening the president and first lady will host the Nordic leaders for a State Dinner. Over the weekend, Obama will travel to Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus to address 2016 graduates at the university’s 250th anniversary commencement ceremony.