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Legislative / Policy Update

Senate Floor. The Senate will continue to process various nominations.

House Floor. It’s a busy week on the House floor. Today the House gave quick approval to a revised IRS reform bill. On Tuesday, the House had planned to vote on a measure that would hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, but that action will be held in abeyance after the Justice Department today agreed to provide the Judiciary Committee with certain material in the Mueller investigation that had previously been withheld. The House, however, will go through with its scheduled vote on a resolution that would allow the Judiciary Committee to sue Barr for failing to provide documents demanded by subpoenas from the committee. Given Monday’s developments, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler indicated that he had no plans to immediately go to court.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will consider its first FY 2020 appropriations legislation, a minibus that packages five spending bills – Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, State-Foreign Operations, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch. There will be no votes on Friday, so consideration of the spending bill is likely to extend into next week. More than 170 amendments have been filed, and the House Rules Committee will meet Monday and Tuesday to decide which amendments will make the cut for floor consideration.

Budget Caps/Appropriations. For the time being, action on the budget front has shifted from bipartisan, bicameral discussions to an all-Republican chat. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby will sit down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought to discuss the budget caps that limit federal spending.

While the House is proceeding with appropriations bills using spending levels set by Democrats, there has been no action in the Senate Appropriations Committee as Shelby has waited to see if a deal could be forged with Democrats and the White House or, in the absence of a deal, guidance from the Administration as to whether the President will accept higher caps. Shelby would like the Appropriations subcommittees to begin marking up FY 2020 spending bills this month.

Next week, the House plans to take up its second minibus, a package that contains FY 2020 spending bills for Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Transportation-HUD, and Military Construction-VA.

Committee Action of Note:

June 11

  • House Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 2020 spending bills for Homeland Security and Financial Services-General Government. (The Homeland Security bill includes no funds for a border wall and would block the use of funds reprogrammed from other accounts to build a border fence.)
  • House Financial Services Committee markup of legislation to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Data Brokers and the “Impact on Financial Data Privacy, Credit, Insurance, Employment and Housing.”

June 12

  • House Armed Services Committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy hearing with testimony from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman and three Commissioners.
  • House Ways and Means Committee hearing to examine “Pathways to Universal Health Coverage.”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit hearing on the state of trucking in America.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.

June 13

  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing on legislation designed to ensure safe disposal and storage of spent nuclear fuel.
  • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing on “Solving the Climate Crisis: Ramping Up Renewables.”
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing on "Certainty in Global Markets for the U.S. Agriculture Sector.”

Political Update

Michigan Senate Race. Republicans have recruited John James, a businessman and Army veteran, to challenge Democratic Senator Gary Peters. In 2018, James lost to incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow by 6.5 points, which exceeded expectations and, according to fivethirtyeight’s analysis, was the GOP’s seventh-best performance that year. Michigan is one of two states Democrats will be defending that President Trump won in 2016. In 2016, for the first time in a presidential cycle, every Senate race went for the same party that carried the state at the presidential level.

New Iowa Poll. Former Vice President Joe Biden saw his lead widen in the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom survey of likely Iowa caucus goers. Though Biden (24%) is down 3 points since the last poll, his lead has grown to 8 points over Senator Sanders at 16%, with Senator Warren close behind at 15%, followed by Mayor Buttigieg at 14%.

Iowa Showdown. Tomorrow, June 11, both President Trump and Democratic front runner Joe Biden will be in Iowa. Biden will make his second campaign stop in the state, where he is expected to discuss his plan to combat climate change and the current Administration’s trade policies. President Trump will be in the state for a fundraiser and a visit to an ethanol plant, where he is expected to tout a new E15 policy for corn producers.


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