December 3, 2012

THE WEEK AHEAD

Legislative Focus: Defense Authorization, Privacy Legislation, Energy Efficiency, Patent Law 

The House is scheduled to take up a long list of measures under suspension of the rules, while the Senate will continue consideration of the FY 2013 Department of Defense authorization bill (S. 3254). Leaders in the House and Senate continue negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff at year’s end.

The Senate convened today at 2:00 p.m. Throughout the week, the Senate will consider the FY13 NDAA, a judicial nomination and a trade bill.

The Senate convenes at 2:00 p.m. today and is expected to continue debate on the $631.4 billion National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, the Senate took action on more than 60 amendments to the bill. A cloture vote is scheduled for this evening. The Senate is also scheduled to consider the nomination of Paul William Grimm to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Maryland. In addition, the Senate could take up a House-passed bill to ease restrictions and establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia.

The House convened at noon today and will take up one measure under suspension of the rules. Tuesday, and for the remainder of the week, the House is expected to take up eight bills under suspension of the rules. No votes are expected Thursday and Friday.

The House today is scheduled to take up the “Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act” (H.R. 5817) under suspension of the rules, which would exempt certain financial institutions from annual privacy notice updates. Tomorrow, and for the balance of the week, the House will consider several additional measures under suspension of the rules, including legislation (H.R. 6582) to amend existing federal energy efficiency laws to increase competitiveness of American manufacturers, and a patent bill (S. 3486) that would implement the provisions of the Hague Agreement and the Patent Law Treaty. 


KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS

Appropriations: The Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on Superstorm Sandy and the recovery efforts. 
Wednesday, December 5 at 10:00 a.m., 192 Dirksen Building.

Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs:  The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold an oversight hearing titled “Oversight of FHA: Examining HUD’s Response to Fiscal Challenges.” 
Thursday, December 6 at 10:00 a.m., 538 Dirksen Building.

Commerce, Science & Transportation:  The Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled “Superstorm Sandy: The Devastating Impact on the Nation’s Largest Transportation Systems.” 
Thursday, December 6 at 10:30 a.m., 253 Russell Building.

Financial Services:  The Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the economic impact of the derivatives provisions contained in Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (PL 111-203). 
Wednesday, December 5 at 10:00 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Building.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (PL 111-203), known as the Volker rule, which requires that banks separate activities such as investment banking, private equity and proprietary trading from their consumer services such as installment loans, residential mortgages, equity credit loans and deposit services. 
Thursday, December 13 at 10:00 a.m.,. 2128 Rayburn Building.

Homeland Security:  The Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Programs.” 
Tuesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., 31 Cannon Building.

Science, Space and Technology:  The Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Impact of International Technology Transfer on American Research and Development.” 
Wednesday, December 5 at 10:00 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Future of NASA: Perspectives on Strategic Vision for America’s Space Program.” 
Thursday, December 6 at 9:30 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building.

Transportation and Infrastructure:  The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the preparedness, response and recovery efforts before and after Hurricane Sandy. 
Tuesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Building.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing titled “An Update on the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program: Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned.” 
Thursday, December 6 at 9:30 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Building.

Veterans’ Affairs:  The Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Committee of the house Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Wading through Warehouses of Paper: The Challenges of Transitioning Veterans Records to Paperless Technology.” 
Tuesday, December 4 at 2:00 p.m., 334 Cannon Building.

Joint Economic:  The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal cliff, focusing on how to protect the middle class, sustain long-term economic growth and reduce the federal deficit. 
Thursday, December 6 at 9:30 a.m., 216 Hart Building.


HOUSE PASSES STEM JOBS ACT

On Friday, the House passed H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act, by a vote of 245-139. The bill would establish a new visa program to enable foreign students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to remain in the United States to work. 

The measure would abolish the Diversity Visa program, which provides visas for individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. and reallocate its 55,000 visas for STEM graduates. After the original version failed under suspension of the rules in September, the bill was modified to allow families of STEM graduates to live in the Unites States while waiting for their own visas. At present, action in the Senate is uncertain. 

The text of the bill can be found here



OPM RELEASES PROPOSED REGULATIONS FOR MULTI-STATE PLANS

On Friday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement the Multi-State Plan Program (MSPP). The rule outlines the process by which OPM will establish the MSPP to offer private insurance products on the Exchanges, as well as to establish standards and requirements for MSPP issuers and multi-State plans (MSPs). 

Under the proposed rule, health insurance issuers will offer at least two MSPs on each of the Affordable Insurance Exchanges through contract with OPM. OPM will administer the MSPP consistent with state insurance laws and in coordination and cooperation with states. 

There is a 30 day comment period which ends on December 30, 2012. OPM intends to publish a final rule early in 2013. For more information regarding the essential health benefits rule click here.



NGA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA
 
The members of National Governors Association’s Executive Committee have been invited to the White House to discuss the fiscal cliff, its impact on states and solutions moving forward with President Obama. The meeting will take place on December 4, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. EST.



DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES NEW GRANT PROGRAMS THAT PREPARE INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS TO SUCCESSFULLY REENTER SOCIETY

The Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, announced a new one-time grant titled “Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities” (PRSCEO), that will invest nearly $1 million into innovative education and workforce training programs that prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter society. 

With over 700,000 incarcerated individuals reentering society every year, existing policies and programs have failed to properly prepare these individuals to reenter society, as four out of ten released prisoners commit new crimes or violate terms of their release within three years.  While there are systemic issues connected to recidivism rates, research has shown that expanding access to education and training programs to prisoners has been an effective strategy to reduce recidivism. 

The Department of Education invites applicants to apply by December 26, 2012. The Department anticipates awarding two to four grants ranging from $200,000 to $400,000, and final awards will be made in January 2013.