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The weekly round-up is taking next week off in honor of our nation’s birth. We hope everyone has a great July 4th holiday!

Legislative / Policy Update

House Floor. The House plans to take its last vote this week by 3 p.m. on Thursday and then will be in recess until Tuesday, July 9. Most of the focus this week will be on appropriations, but the House is also expected to pass legislation authorizing funds to upgrade election security and requiring that paper ballots be used and stored in case a recount is needed. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.

By the end of the week, the House plans to have wrapped up work on at least 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2020. This afternoon, the House will resume consideration of its second minibus (H.R. 3055), which packages five bills together – Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Transportation-HUD, and Military Construction-VA. After that measure is approved, the House will take up H.R. 3351, the Financial Services and General Government spending bill. That leaves only two bills outstanding – Legislative Branch and Homeland Security.

The Legislative Branch measure was pulled out of the first minibus because some Members objected to the fact that it did not block a cost-of-living pay increase for lawmakers. House leaders have not yet said how they plan to address the issue. The Homeland Security bill, which provides no funding for the border wall, touches on many controversial issues and is not expected to come to the House floor.

In other appropriations action, the House plans to vote Tuesday on a $4.5-billion spending bill to address humanitarian needs at the Southern border. The measure, which was unveiled Friday, is expected to pass on a mostly party-line vote.

Senate Floor. The Senate this week plans to take up its version of the humanitarian aid bill, which was approved last week in the Appropriations Committee by a 30-1 margin. Supporters of the bill hope that an agreement can be reached quickly between the House and Senate in order to send the measure to the President before the July 4th recess. This afternoon, the Senate will also formally proceed to consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), possibly taking a final vote to pass the measure on Thursday.

Budget Caps/FY 2020 Appropriations. Unless there is a breakthrough this week in negotiations among House and Senate leaders and the Administration on adjusting the budget caps, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) wants his panel’s subcommittees to begin work after the July 4th recess using spending levels that he will provide them.

Tax Extenders. On June 20, the House Ways and Means Committee approved four bills, including one to extend various tax breaks that have expired or will expire at the end of this year and another bill, the Economic Mobility Act, which expands the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, and dependent care assistance. Because the first bill mainly benefits businesses and the second measure is designed to help low- and middle-income taxpayers, Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal (D-Mass.) does not plan to move one bill to the House floor without the other.

The problem with that strategy is that the $33-billion cost of the extenders bill over 10 years is offset by changes to the estate tax exemption, while the $100 billion cost of the Economic Mobility Act is not paid for. Under House “paygo” rules, Ways and Means can approve tax bills that aren’t offset, but the full House can’t unless Members vote to waive the rules. An increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 22% would cover the cost, but the Senate and the President will not agree to a hike in the corporate rate. Because there are Democratic House members who would prefer not to vote on a corporate tax increase that has no chance of being enacted, Neal may decide that he won’t bring the Economic Mobility Act and the extenders bill to the House floor.

If so, Neal will simply use the Ways and Means legislation as the House position in negotiations with Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). No one would be surprised if a final agreement on extenders and other tax issues, possibly including technical corrections to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is not enacted until this fall, or later. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the five task forces that Grassley and Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) appointed to examine expiring tax provisions are supposed to wrap up their work by the end of this month.

International Trade. The U.S. Supreme Court this morning rejected a steel importer group’s bid to knock down steel tariffs imposed by President Trump last year. The Court’s decision to not hear an appeal of an earlier ruling leaves in place the President’s broad authority to impose tariffs on the basis of national security. President Trump heads to Osaka, Japan for the G-20 Summit June 28-29. He is expected to talk trade with Chinese President Xi Jinping following a meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He.

Committee Action of Note:

June 25

  • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: Mexico's Labor Reform: Opportunities and Challenges for an Improved NAFTA.
  • House Financial Services Task Force on Financial Technology Hearing: Overseeing the Fintech Revolution.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety Hearing: Examining Technological Innovations in Transportation.

June 26

  • House Financial Services Committee markup of the "United States Export Finance Agency Act of 2019."
  • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment Hearing: Transatlantic Policy Impacts of the U.S. – EU Trade Conflict.
  • House Financial Services Task Force on Artificial Intelligence Hearing: Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence: Where We Are and the Next Frontier in Financial Services.
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee markup of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.
  • Senate Homeland Security Committee Hearing: Unprecedented Migration at the U.S. Southern Border.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearing: Amtrak: Next Steps for Passenger Rail.

June 27

  • Senate Judiciary Committee markup of various prescription drug pricing measures.
  • Senate Banking Committee Hearing: Oversight and Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.
  • Senate Energy Committee Hearing to examine storage of nuclear waste.

Political Update

Fundraising. May fundraising totals came in last week with the RNC leading the way by raising $14.6 million for the month. The DCCC brought in $8.9 million; the DNC, $6.8 million; and the NRCC, $4.8 million. By comparison, President Trump raised $24.8 million on June 19 when he announced his candidacy for 2020.

Senate Races. Republican Roy Moore officially announced his candidacy for the Alabama Senate on June 20. Moore, who lost to Democrat Doug Jones in 2016’s special election, faces competition from his party and a crowded field of other GOP candidates. In Maine, Republican Senator Susan Collins drew a high-profile Democratic challenger today in state House Speaker Sara Gideon. Collins is one of two Republican Senators running for re-election in states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. The other is Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado.

2020 Presidential. The first round of Democratic presidential debates take place this Wednesday and Thursday, with 10 candidates appearing each night. President Trump is expected to be live tweeting during the debates. Vice President Mike Pence will head to Miami on Tuesday to launch "Latinos for Trump," a national effort to recruit Hispanic voters.

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