November 2, 2015

Legislative Focus: Fusion Centers, Surface Transportation Reauthorization, NDAA

The House reconvened today at 2 p.m. EST to consider nine bills under suspension of the rules. The House will consider two bills – H.R. 3503 and H.R. 3598 – which require the Department of Homeland Security to improve coordination of fusion centers with state and local officials.

The Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. At 2:30 p.m., the Senate will hold a cloture vote on S. 1140, a bill that requires the Department of the Army and the Environmental Protection Agency to revise the recently finalized Waters of the U.S. rule after consultation with state and local regulatory officials. The Senate will resume consideration of S. 1140 for the remainder of the week.

On Wednesday, the House is expected to consider amendments to the amended version of H.R. 22, the Senate-passed six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. Beginning Monday night, the House Committee on Rules will establish rules for floor consideration and determine which amendments will be considered on the House floor. The House is expected to hold a final vote on passage around noon on Thursday, Nov. 5.

For the remainder of the week, the House is expected to consider H.R. 1735, the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Key Hearings and Markups

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee

·         Full committee hearing titled “Wildfire: Stakeholder Perspectives on Budgetary Impacts and Threats to Natural Resources on Federal, State and Private Lands.” Thursday, November 5 at 10 a.m., 328-A Russell Building.

House Energy and Commerce Committee

·         Health subcommittee hearing titled “Examining Legislation to Improve Medicare and Medicaid.” Tuesday, November 3 at 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building.

·         Energy and Power Subcommittee markup to consider two resolutions relating to the EPA. Tuesday, November 3 at 1 p.m., 2322 Rayburn Building.

·         Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing titled “Examining the Costly Failures of Obamacare’s CO-OP Insurance Loans.” Thursday, November 5 at 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building.

House Homeland Security Committee

·         Full committee markup to consider pending legislation. Wednesday, November 4 at 2 p.m., 311 Cannon Building.

House Science, Space and Technology Committee

·         Environment Subcommittee and Oversight Subcommittee joint hearing titled “Renewable Fuel Standard: A Ten Year Review of Costs and Benefits.” Tuesday, November 3 at 10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building.

·         Full committee hearing titled “Examining EPA’s Predetermined Efforts to Block the Pebble Mine.” Thursday, November 5 at 9 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building.

House Veterans Affairs Committee

·         Economic Opportunity subcommittee titled “Examining VA’s Information Technology Systems that Provide Economic Opportunism for Veterans.” Tuesday, November 3 at 2 p.m., 334 Cannon Building.

House Ways and Means Committee

·         Human Resources subcommittee hearing titled “Better Coordinating Welfare Programs to Serve Families in Need.” Tuesday, November 3 at 10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Building.

·         Health subcommittee hearing to examine the health care law’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. Tuesday, November 3 at 2 p.m., 1100 Longworth Building.

The Week in Review

Senate Passes Budget Agreement, Signed Today By President
Late last week, the Senate agreed on final passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, 64-35. The measure was sent to the President and signed earlier today. The bill averts the federal government from defaulting on its debt, and suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2017. Congress has limited legislative days remaining to work out FY 2016 appropriations before the current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 11. The budget agreement adds $50 billion for FY 2016, split evenly between defense and discretionary funding.

Paul Ryan Elected 62nd Speaker of the House
Last week, retiring Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) presided over the election of his successor, Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Speaker Ryan serves as the 62nd Speaker of the House and is the first from Wisconsin.

CMS Finalizes Medicaid Access Rule, Requests Information
Under a final rule released last week, states will be required to report more information to help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) better monitor and assess access to care in Medicaid. The final rule establishes new procedures for states seeking CMS approval of provider payment reductions or restructuring, including a process for public input and an analysis of how changes will affect beneficiary access to care. The new rules take effect Jan. 4. CMS is also requesting feedback on approaches that will help ensure access requirements are met. Comments will be accepted for 60 days. To read the press release, click here.

Senate Passes Cybersecurity Bill 
Last week, the Senate approved the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754) in a 74-21 vote. The bill directs certain federal agencies to share timely cyber threat information with private and public sector entities, including states, and provides liability protections to encourage private companies to share more information with the government. Senators accepted a substitute amendment that clarifies the types of information that can be offered and increases privacy protections. Senators also accepted an amendment by voice vote that would sunset the legislation after ten years. The bill now heads to conference with two House bills, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (H.R. 1731)and the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (H.R. 1560), which passed the House in April.

USDA Announces SNAP Employment, Training Center
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) Center of Excellence. The Center will provide states tools and information to develop stronger E&T programs for SNAP participants. The Seattle Jobs Initiative was selected to establish and operate the center for the first two years. To view the press release, click here.