MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013
THE WEEK AHEADLegislative Focus: Immigration Bill, Farm Bill, Appropriations
The Senate convened at 2 p.m. to resume consideration of a comprehensive immigration bill (S. 744).
The Senate will spend the week of June 17th on the immigration bill, while the House will work on a variety of bills that include the Farm Bill.
Today the Senate will resume debate on S. 744, comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Last week the Senate voted 84-15 in favor of proceeding with debate on the bill. Senate Republicans are expected to release a compromise amendment on border security this week in an effort to shore up GOP support for the bill. The bill currently requires the Department of Homeland Security to draft a plan to apprehend 90 percent of illegal border crossers in three of nine southern sectors before immigrants living in the country can become legal permanent residents.
On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to release its fiscal 2014 spending allocations for federal agencies. The 302(b) allocations, released last month, are an indicator that Senate Democratic Appropriations plans are likely to fund programs at a higher level than the House.
The House convened at 12 p.m. for Morning Hour debate.
Today the House will consider six bills under suspension of the rules concerning public lands, national parks and national monuments (H.R. 876. H.R. 253, H.R. 520, H.R. 520, H.R. 674, H.R. 862). On Tuesday, the House will consider HR 475, a bill to classify all vaccines against seasonal influenza as taxable with proceeds from the tax to finance the National Vaccine Injury Compensation.
This week, the House is also expected to begin consideration HR 1947, a bill to reauthorize major federal farm, nutrition assistance, rural development and agricultural trade programs through FY 2018. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill would reduce direct spending by $33.3 billion over ten years, with a reduction of $20.5 billion from federal nutrition program. The bill would restrict states from using categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which would also limit eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals. The bill would also amend monitoring and reporting requirements for SNAP employment and training programs and would require the Secretary of Agriculture to confer with the Secretary of Labor to develop reporting requirements based on common measures of performance for federal workforce programs and supplement the National School Lunch Program by creating a pilot program allowing select states to receive a cash grant to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in lieu of USDA commodity products.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce is expected to markup H.R. 5, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The bill includes provisions that would replace allow states to design accountability systems, leave school improvement strategies to state and local policymakers, direct states and schools to put teacher evaluation systems in place that include student achievement, consolidate 70 federal education programs and provide funding to expand charter and magnet school options.
KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPSAppropriations: The Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up draft legislation that would make FY14 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction.
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., SD-192 Dirksen Building.
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up draft legislation that would make FY14 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction.
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., SD-124 Dirksen Building.
The Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on proposed FY14 appropriations for agencies, programs, and activities under its jurisdiction.
Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 192 Dirksen Building.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will markup draft legislation that would make FY14 appropriations for various agriculture programs as well as legislation that would make FY14 appropriations for military construction-veterans affairs programs. The Committee will also vote on 302(b) subcommittee spending allocations.
Thursday, June 20th at 10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Building.
The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will mark up draft FY14 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction.
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:30 a.m., 2362-B Rayburn Building.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee will mark up draft legislation that would make FY14 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction.
Wednesday, June 19th at 11:00 a.m., 2358A Rayburn Building.
Budget: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s proposed FY14 budget request for the Department of Education.
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:30 a.m., 608 Dirksen Building.
The House Budget Committee will mark up pending legislation to reform the budget baseline and provide for the macroeconomic analysis of the impact of legislation.
Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 210 Cannon Building.
Commerce, Science & Transportation: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Thomas Wheeler to be Federal Communications Commission Chairman.
Tuesday, June 18th at 2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on passenger and freight rail safety.
Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 253 Russell Building.
Education & the Workforce: The House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up H.R. 5, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Wednesday, June 19th at 9:00 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Building.
Energy & Commerce: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up pending legislation including H.R. 2226 relating to state consultation on removal and remedial actions, state concurrence with listing on the National Priorities List, and state credit for contributions to the removal or remedial action.
Tuesday, June 18th at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building.
The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Energy Abundance: Regulatory, Market and Legal Barriers to Export.”
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building.
The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Continuing Concerns Over BioWatch and the Surveillance of Bioterrorism.”
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building.
The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee and Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “A Competitive Edge for American Manufacturing: Abundant American Energy.”
Thursday, June 20th at 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building.
Finance/Financial Services: The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled, “High Prices, Low Transparency: The Bitter Pill of Health Care Costs.”
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., 215 Dirksen Building.
The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services will hold a hearing on the Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Homeownership.
Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Building.
Health, Education, Labor & Pensions: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled “Developing a Skilled Workforce for a Competitive Economy: Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act.”
Thursday, June 20th at 2:30 p.m., 430 Dirksen Building.
The Primary Health and Aging Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled “Reducing Senior Poverty and Hunger: The Role of the Older Americans Act.”
Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Building.
Homeland Security: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Daniel Tangherlini to be administrator of the General Services Administration.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Extreme Weather Events: The Costs of Not Being Prepared.”
Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m., 342 Dirksen Building.
Judiciary: The House Judiciary Committee will mark up H.R. 2278, the SAFE Act, which addresses interior enforcement and border security. Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Building.
Oversight & Government Reform: The Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “Federal Government Approaches to Issuing Biometric ID’s.”
Wednesday, June 19th at 9:30 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Building.
Veterans’ Affairs: The Economic Opportunity Subcommittee of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Value of Education for Veterans at Public, Private and For-Profit Colleges and Universities.”
Thursday, June 20th at 10:00 a.m., 334 Cannon Building.
SENATE MARKS UP DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL; HOUSE PASSES ITS BILL
The Senate Committee on Armed Services Friday announced the completion of their markup on the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Committee voted 23-3 to report the $625 billion bill, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) and national security programs for the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill includes a number of provisions that affect the National Guard. The bill matches the President's budget request for Army National Guard (ARNG) end strength, which cuts 4,000 positions while maintaining the existing force structure. In addition, the bill: authorizes the transfer of ARNG and Air National Guard (ANG) officers between the Selected Reserve and the inactive National Guard until December 31, 2016; removes the existing limitation on when members of the National Guard are entitled to receive basic pay when called into federal service for a period of 30 days or less; authorizes numerous military construction projects for ARNG and ANG locations in the United States; requires service secretaries to ensure that each member of the National Guard or reserve who is the victim of a sexual assault either during the performance of duties as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, or is a victim of a sexual assault by another member of the Guard or Reserve, has access to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator not later than two business days following a request for such assistance; and completes an ARNG aircraft requirement by authorizing $96.2 million to procure UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The measure now goes to the Senate floor, although it is unclear when the chamber will take up the bill.
Also on Friday, the House completed consideration of its version of the NDAA (H.R. 1960) which passed by a vote of 315-108. Prior to passage, the House considered an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) which would have reallocated $5 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, including $400 million added to the bill in Committee for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, to deficit reduction. The amendment failed by a vote of 191-232.
HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed by voice vote a FY14 appropriations bill for agencies and programs under its jurisdiction.
The bill would provide $20.45 billion in mandatory funding for the National School Lunch Program and child nutrition programs and $76.3 billion in mandatory funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to Committee estimates, this would represent a $561 million increase for child nutrition programs and a $958 million decrease for SNAP over the FY13 enacted levels. The bill would fund discretionary programs at $19.5 billion, an amount that reflects automatic sequester cuts.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would be funded at $6.65 billion, which the Subcommittee estimates is $214 million below the FY13 enacted level, although this calculation does not include changes to the FY13 level from sequestration. Additionally, the bill would reduce from $401 million to $350 million the mandatory funding level for grants to states for nutrition education under SNAP.
By a vote of 27-21 the Committee adopted an amendment by Representative Culberson (R-TX.) that would prohibit funding in the bill from going to states unless their SNAP and WIC participants are deemed eligible in compliance with current law. Floor consideration of the bill is expected later this month. The bill can be found here.
SENATE VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON BENEFITS LEGISLATION
On Wednesday the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss a large slate of veterans’ benefits legislation pending before the committee. A number of senators who are not members of the committee were invited to present their bills including Senators Franken (D-Minn.), Merkley (D-OR), Murkowski (R-AK), Shaheen (D-NH), Schatz (D-HI), and Wyden (D-OR). The committee heard from Curtis Coy, deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity at the Veterans Benefits Administration. Mr. Coy and several of his deputies provided feedback on a number of veterans’ bills and his full testimony can be found here. The government witnesses were followed by a panel of representatives from four veterans’ service organizations including: Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Military Officers Association of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The National Governors Association was invited to submit written testimony for the hearing, and included highlights of Nevada's programs. It can be found here. A link to a webcast of the hearing and all testimony can be found here.
SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES ESEA REAUTHORIZATION PROPOSAL
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up, for the second day, HELP Chairman Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S. 1094), a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Of the 40 amendments that were filed and approved, the committee considered 28 amendments and approved 10 amendments.
The committee reported the bill on a 12-10 roll call vote. On day two of the markup, the committee adopted amendments that include allowing Title IV funds to be used for agricultural education, requiring states to report on career and technical education indicators and requiring the Department of Education to conduct a study on college awareness in priority high schools. Sen. Harkin indicated that it was unclear when the bill would be taken up on the Senate floor.
HELP Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that he would support the bill going to the floor if amendments could be offered and expressed his desire for the bill to be placed in conference should it pass the Senate.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will consider a separate House bill to reauthorize ESEA next week on Wednesday, June 19.
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON MEDICAID REFORM
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on “The Need for Medicaid Reform: A State Perspective.” The hearing focused on reforms to the Medicaid program, including the implementation of per capita capitation payments to providers, and how the relationship between the federal and state governments could be improved. The subcommittee heard testimony from Tony Keck, director of South Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services; Seema Verma, president of SVC, Inc.; and Dr. Joseph Thompson, surgeon general of Arkansas and director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.
The witnesses discussed the need to change the Medicaid program to assure long-term fiscal sustainability and improved patient health outcomes by removing bureaucratic hurdles and providing greater flexibility to states. The witnesses noted that states are best positioned to develop policies that reflect local values. Questions by subcommittee members centered on how the federal government can aid in streamlining the Medicaid waiver and state plan amendment process as well as other barriers facing states. Testimony can be found here.
BILL INTRODUCED TO PERMANENTLY AUTHORIZE THE STATE TRADE AND EXPORT (STEP) PROGRAM
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) introduced H.R. 2333, the Next STEP Act of 2013, which would permanently authorize the State Trade and Export (STEP) Program. The bill also would help small businesses trying to overcome hurdles to exporting. First authorized as a pilot program under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the STEP program provides grants to states and territories to help small businesses penetrate foreign markets. STEP grants are managed at the state and local level. The federal share of the grant would be capped at 75 percent for states with high export volume and no more than 65 percent for states with low export volume. States and territories may submit only one competitive grant application per fiscal year. The NGA and the Council of State Governments (CSG) recently sent a letter to Congress urging reauthorization for the STEP program. Click here to read the bill summary and here to read the NGA-CSG letter.
SENATE PASSES FARM BILL
The Senate passed S.954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 by a vote of 66-27. The bill would reauthorize several drought and emergency assistance programs, including the Supplemental Disaster Assistance Program for livestock producers, the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Tree Assistance Program.
The bill would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase pulse crops for distribution to schools to serve in the National School Lunch Program. With respect to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), it would restrict automatic eligibility for the standard utility allowance for households receiving Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program payments and would require that state performance bonus payments be reinvested in SNAP.
Additionally the bill would establish a Livestock Forage Disaster Program to provide one source of assistance for weather related forage losses by combining the livestock forage assistance functions of the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program.
The House is expected to take up its version of the farm bill, H.R. 1947, later this month.
SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES NOMINATIONS OF MAYOR FOXX AND PENNY PRITZKER
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted 23-0 to approve the nominations of Mayor Anthony Foxx as the Secretary of Transportation and Penny Pritzker as the Secretary of Commerce. Mayor Foxx is currently serving his first term as the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina and previously served on the Charlotte City Council.
Ms. Pritzker is a Chicago businesswoman who has previously served on the President’s Jobs Council and Economic Recovery Board and sits on the board of Hyatt Hotels, which is owned by her family. The Senate is expected to consider the nominations on the floor later this month or early next month.
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