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Legislative / Policy Update

Senate Floor. The Senate this week will continue consideration of executive and judicial nominations. On Wednesday, from 3 to 4 p.m., there will be a classified briefing for all Senators on election security provided by the Director of National Intelligence and top officials at Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the FBI, and others. House members will also receive a briefing on Wednesday.

House Floor. In a July 5 letter to his colleagues, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sketched out the schedule for the July work period. This week, the House will take up the National Defense Authorization Act. (The Senate passed its version June 27.) Next week, the House will consider legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 as well as the Intelligence Authorization Act. The week of July 22, the House plans to consider “legislation to bring down health care costs.” In addition to these measures, Hoyer wrote that “over the next three weeks, the House will also pass legislation on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, addressing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and bolstering our nation’s election security.”

Budget Caps / Appropriations. The House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2020, and has no immediate plans to take up the other two – Homeland Security and Legislative Branch. The Senate, meanwhile, is in a holding pattern. Lacking a deal to adjust the spending caps, the House moved ahead on its appropriations bills by using spending levels reflecting Democratic priorities, while the Senate has been hoping a bipartisan budget deal could be reached quickly by House and Senate leaders and the Administration.

With no deal in sight, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said last month that if there were no agreement by the first week of July, he’d have to seriously consider following the House’s lead and “deeming” spending levels that his panel could use to mark up the 12 bills. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t think such an approach will work in the Senate. "We are going to continue to talk about this,” McConnell said, “and hopefully get a resolution to how much we are going to spend this year, next year and the debt ceiling all together, so we don't end up with these periodic, chaotic situations where we all see us go from time to time."

The House has 25 work days scheduled between now and September 30, when the fiscal year ends. The Senate has 35 days. The last time Congress finished its spending work on time was in 1994 and 1996.

Committee Action of Note:

July 9

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy hearing on legislation dealing with energy storage.

July 10

  • House Financial Services Committee hearing with testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell on monetary policy and the state of the economy.
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on “Investing in America's Surface Transportation Infrastructure: The Need for a Multi-Year Reauthorization Bill."
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee vote on Stephen M. Dickson to be FAA Administrator.

July 11

  • Senate Banking Committee hearing with testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell on monetary policy and the state of the economy.

July 12

  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy hearing, "Keeping The Lights On: Addressing Cyber Threats To The Grid."

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