July 30, 2012

THE WEEK AHEAD

Legislative Focus:  Cybersecurity, Tax Measures, Farm Bill, Iran Sanctions

Congress faces a daunting legislative agenda the July 30 week as both chambers aim to wrap up work before a the five-week August recess. The House plans to take up competing tax measures, while the Senate is scheduled to spend most of the week on cybersecurity legislation.

The Senate convened at 2:00 p.m. today with roll call votes expected on a judicial nomination. The Senate is also expected to consider cybersecurity legislation this week.

The Senate is set to take up cybersecurity legislation (S. 3414) July 30, following a cloture vote on the nomination of Robert Bacharach to be a U.S. circuit judge for the Tenth Circuit. 

The cybersecurity bill, which was introduced by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and ranking member Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), would establish a new government program to encourage “critical infrastructure” operators to adopt cybersecurity best practices.

Several Republicans have introduced a competing bill, (S. 3342), called the SECURE IT Act. Senators agreed July 26 by an 84-11 vote to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill, although passage is uncertain. While negotiations continue in an attempt to garner the required votes to pass the cyber bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has been attempting to develop a tax extenders bill that could be taken up before the recess.

The House convened at 2:00 p.m. today for a pro forma session. Tuesday, the House convenes at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business and to take up 20 measures under suspension of the rules. Votes are set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and for the remainder of the week, the House is scheduled to consider 11 bills under suspension of the rules and three measures subject to a rule.

The House is expected to take up two competing tax bills, as the Senate did last week. The Senate-passed bill (S. 3412) will be brought to the floor this week along with a House version (H.R. 8). House leadership plans to counter the Senate-passed bill with a separate tax reform bill (H.R. 6169) that would provide for a process to overhaul the tax code and would implement expedited procedures to allow tax reform to bypass technical procedural hurdles in 2013. Under the bill, which was cleared by the House Rules Committee July 26, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman must introduce a tax reform bill by April 30, 2013. The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet July 31 to formulate a rule for floor debate on the tax measures.

The House also plans to work on a short-term Farm Bill extension that would extend agricultural programs for one year. The Senate has passed its five-year extension of the Farm Bill, and the House Agriculture Committee has cleared its version of the bill.
Lawmakers in both chambers could consider an Iran sanctions bill during the July 30 week.


KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS

Appropriations: The Senate Defense Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up draft legislation that would make fiscal 2013 appropriations for departments, programs and agencies under its jurisdiction. 
Tuesday, July 31 at 10:30 a.m., Dirksen 192.

Armed Services:  The House Armed Services Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “Sequestration Implementation Options and the Effects on National Defense: Industry Perspectives.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2118.

Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs:  The Senate Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of Senate Baking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 538.

Commerce, Science & Transportation:  The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled “Marketplace Fairness: Leveling the Playing Field for Small Business,” focusing on legislation relating to the taxation of sales made over the Internet. 
Wednesday, August 1 at 2:30 p.m., Russell 352. *NGA will testify at this hearing*

Energy & Commerce:  The House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up pending legislation. Agenda: HR. 6213, H.R. 6190, H.R.6194, S. 710, H.R. 6131. 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “State, Local and Federal Cooperation under the Clean Air Act.” The sessions will provide an opportunity for members of Congress to hear a broad range of perspectives from experts about their experiences in implementing the Clean Air Act. 
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday, August 2 at 2:00 p.m., Rayburn 2123.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “The American Energy Initiative.” 
Thursday, August 2 at 9:00 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

Energy & Natural Resources:  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that would authorize funding for rural water projects. 
Tuesday, July 31 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 366.

Environment & Public Works:  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Update on the Latest Climate Change Science and Local Adaptation Measures.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 406.

Finance:  The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled “Tax Reform: Examining the Taxation of Business Entities,” focusing on different taxation of business entities structured as corporations verses pass-throughs, and to consider proposals to alter those rules. 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:30 a.m., Dirksen 215.

Financial Services:  The Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee of House Financial Services Committee will harp up pending legislation. Agenda: H.R. 757, H.R. 2827, H.R. 6161. 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:15 a.m., Rayburn 2128.

Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs:  The Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia Subcommittee of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “State of Federal Privacy and Data Security Law: Lagging Behind the Times?” 
Tuesday, July 31 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 628.

Judiciary:  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “Rising Prison Costs: Restructuring Budgets and Crime Prevention Options.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 226.

Science, Space & Technology:  The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Relationships Between Business and Research Universities: Collaborations Fueling American Innovation and Job Creation.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2318.

Small Business: The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing titled “Know Before You Regulate: The Impact of CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) Regulations on Small Business.” 
Wednesday, August 1 at 1:00 p.m., Rayburn 2360.


SENATE VOTES TO CONSIDER CYBERSECURITY BILL

Thurday, the Senate voted to proceed with debate, amendment and final passage of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 by a vote of 84-11. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to an open amendment process. 

This bill is a revised version of similar legislation that was introduced in February 2012 and is intended to address concerns raised regarding the earlier version’s mandatory security standards for private sector companies. Instead, the revised version of the bill allows companies to participate in a voluntary cybersecurity program through which they could self-certify or use a third-party assessment to demonstrate that they are compliant with a set of security practices. 

The legislation would also establish a National Cybersecurity Council to conduct risk assessments to determine which critical infrastructure sectors are most at risk and identify categories infrastructure. 

The Senate is expected to vote on final passage before the August recess.



HOUSE TO CONSIDER FARM BILL EXTENSION
 
Late Friday, the House introduced legislation would extend the 2008 farm bill by one year while making certain changes aimed at helping farmers and ranchers cope with the drought. The bill would make disaster assistance available for fiscal 2012 and 2013 to livestock producers and would also extend conservation and energy programs that would otherwise expire on Sept. 30. The House Rules Committee is expected to meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss the extension, and the full House will likely take up the bill Wednesday.



SENATE PASSES HOUSE BILL CALLING FOR SEQUESTER INFORMATION

Last week, the Senate passed H.R. 5872, a bill instructing the Administration to provide details regarding how agencies would implement the $109 billion in automatic cuts called for by sequestration. The bill, passed by unanimous consent, gives the Administration 30 days to provide reduction information down to the project level. 



HOUSE MOVES CLOSER ON MARKETPLACE LEGISLATION
 
Last week the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding H.R. 3179, the Marketplace Equity Ac of 2011. The bill, introduced by Representatives Womack (R-AR) and Speier (D-CA) would grant states with the authority to require remote sellers to collect and remit sales taxes. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam testified in favor of the legislation on behalf of the National Governors Association. Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), author of H.R.2701, the Main Street Fairness Act, voiced his support for the newer bill and encouraged all of his cosponsors to join in the effort. Also testifying were Wayne Harper, Utah House of Representatives (on behalf of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board); Hanns Kuttner, Visiting Fellow, The Hudson Institute; and Steve DelBianco, Executive Director, NetChoice. Late yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee announced that it will hold a hearing on the Senate companion bill, S. 1832, the Marketplace Fairness Act next Wednesday, August 1.


SENATE CONFIRMS NEXT NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU CHIEF AND VICE CHIEF

Last week, the Senate confirmed Lieutenant General Frank Grass to be the next chief of the National Guard Bureau and Major General Joseph Lengyel to be vice chief. Lieutenant General Grass will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and be promoted to four-star general to succeed General Craig McKinley, who became the first chief of the National Guard to be a four-star general and first to be appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The position of National Guard Bureau Chief was elevated to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which also re-established the position of vice-chief at the three-star level.