This week in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate: Feb. 1 – Feb. 5, 2016

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United States Capitol_ U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate

Congressional lawmakers are back in Washington after being disrupted by Winter Storm Jonas last week. Both chambers have full agendas and will be busy making up postponed votes and hearings due to the storm.

House Schedule

Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives is in session and will consider several bills under Suspension of the Rules.  A full list of bills can be found here.

Other legislation up for consideration this week:

H.R. 3700: the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. The bill modifies various housing laws to try to extend affordable housing options to more low-income families. It allows Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and the owners of private subsidized housing to verify the income-based eligibility of families through other needs-tested federal programs, modifies requirements regarding the inspection of housing units, eases Federal Housing Authority (FHA) requirements for mortgage insurance for condominiums and establishes a Special Assistant for Veterans’ Affairs within the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) to coordinate all HUD programs and activities relating to veterans.

  • Alabama co-sponsor(s): None

H.R. 3662: the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act. The bill restricts the president’s ability to lift sanctions on Iranian and other financial institutions as called for by the Iran nuclear agreement. The House debated the bill on Jan. 13 and initially passed it by a 191-106 vote, but that vote was vacated because nearly 140 members missed the vote.

Overriding the president’s veto of H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. The measure repeals numerous major provisions of Obamacare, including the individual and employer mandates, tax subsidies for individuals to purchase health insurance from exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid. It also effectively eliminates more than a dozen of the law’s taxes, including the medical device tax, the “Cadillac” tax and the net investment tax, and it blocks federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. The Senate passed the measure on a 52-47 vote under the budget reconciliation process, while the House cleared it by a 240-181 vote. The president vetoed the measure Jan. 8. A two-thirds vote of both chambers is needed to override a veto.

  • Alabama co-sponsor(s): N/A

H.R. 1675: Encouraging Employee Ownership Act of 2015. The bill requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to conduct reviews of its existing regulations to determine whether any are outmoded, ineffective or excessively burdensome, and to modify or repeal rules based on those reviews. It also exempts certain firms that broker mergers and acquisitions from SEC registration requirements, increases the allowable size of privately held companies that may sell securities for certain purposes and exempts smaller companies from requirements that they use a certain technology in filing financial statements to the SEC.

  • Alabama co-sponsor(s): None

H.R. 766: the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act. The bill prohibits federal banking regulators from requesting that financial institutions terminate their relationships with specific customers or groups of customers unless the agency has a material reason for requesting that termination, and it restricts the conditions under which the Justice Department may conduct investigations involving financial institutions and seek civil penalties. The bill is a response to the Justice department’s Operation Choke Point that sought to protect consumers from unauthorized withdrawals by third-party payment processors acting as intermediaries for fraudulent merchants, which however some banks began to sever services with entire categories of lawful businesses.

  • Alabama co-sponsor(s): None

The House is not in session Friday.

Highlights of what is happening in House Committees this week:

  • Budget Views and Estimates: Budget season is heating up, with the House Small Business Committee, the House Select Intelligence Committee, the House Agriculture Committee, the House Financial Services Committee marking up their respective “Views and Estimates on the President’s FY2017 Budget” this week.
  • More Budget: On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee will host a “Members’ Day” to allow members of the House to testify before the committee on the policy priorities they wish to see in the FY2017 budget resolution. And on Thursday, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook” featuring CBO Director Keith Hall. More information here.
  • Prescription Drug Market: On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing titled “Developments in the Prescription Drug Market: Oversight.”  Of note, Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, may appear as a witness at the hearing.  More information here.
  • Flint, MI Drinking Water: On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan.”  More information here.
  • Afghanistan: On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Afghanistan in 2016: The Evolving Security Situation and U.S. Policy, Strategy and Posture.” More information here.
  • Paris Climate Agreement:  On Tuesday, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “Paris Climate Promise: A Bad Deal for America.” More information here.
  • Refugee and Visa Security: On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Crisis of Confidence: Preventing Terrorist Infiltration through U.S. Refugee and Visa Programs.” More information here.
  • School Choice: On Wednesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice.” More information here.
  • Education Information Security: On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Department of Education: Investigation of the CIO” featuring Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. More information here.
  • Economy: On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled “Reaching America’s Potential: Delivering Growth and Opportunity for All Americans.” More information here.
  • Military Acquisition Reform: On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Acquisition Reform: Starting Programs Well.” More information here.
  • Veterans: House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Lost Opportunities for Veterans: An Examination of VA’s Technology Transfer Program.” More information here.
  • E&W Markup: On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will markup of H.R.4293: the Affordable Retirement Advice Protection Act and H.R.4294: the Strengthening Access to Valuable Education and Retirement Support Act of 2015. More information here and here, respectively.

Senate Schedule

The Senate is session this week and is expected to resume consideration of S. 2012: Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. The bill is the largest energy bill in decades and is intended to take America’s energy path into the 21st Century. The Senate will consider over 100 amendments to the bill before a vote on final passage expected later this week.

  • Alabama co-sponsor(s): None

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