The Week Ahead in Congress


Both the House and Senate are in during this last week before the July 4 break. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the 2010 healthcare law, which will make waves in Washington, regardless of the decision.

The Week Ahead in Congress

If Attorney General Eric Holder does not give House Republicans the documents they want related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, the GOP has said it would hold a vote on this resolution finding Holder in contempt of Congress. The Obama administration asserted executive privilege over the documents, making a House vote likely sometime during the middle of this week.

Congress has just one week left to reach an agreement on a long-term highway bill, or federal highway programs will shut down on June 30. The House has only passed a short-term extension, HR 4348, and House and Senate negotiators may ultimately end up with a short-term extension this week if they can’t agree on a longer-term bill. The Senate has approved a two-year extension, S 1813.

Student loans: This week is also the last chance for the House and Senate to agree on a plan to keep the interest rate on new, federally backed student loans at 3.4 percent for another year. Without a deal, the rate will jump to 6.8 percent on July 1. In April, the House passed a bill that would cut a preventive health fund to pay for the $6 billion cost of extending the low interest rate. In May, the Senate passed a bill, S 2343, that would subject more income to the payroll tax for high-income earners. (Weigh in on student loan bills.)

Bills Before Congress

Extending the National Flood Insurance Program (S 1940).  The Senate will start work on this bill this week.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act (S 3187)
Reauthorizing and extending the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee program for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The user fees help pay for FDA assessments of new products, and this amended version of the bill is expected to pass this week, after the House approved it last week.

HR 5972: The 2013 spending bill for the Dept. of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.  The House starts work on this bill Tuesday; it cuts $3.9 billion from 2012.

HR 5873: The 2013 spending bill for the Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration.  This bill spends $19.4 billion, about $365 million less than current levels. The House will also start work on this bill Tuesday.

These other, less controversial bills will also receive a vote in the House this week:

The Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act (HR 1447) directs the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to establish an Aviation Security Advisory Committee.

HR 2297: To promote the development of the Southwest waterfront in the District of Columbia.

HR 3173:To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to require, in total, not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center.

The Gauging American Port Security Act (HR 4005) directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study and report to Congress on gaps in port security in the US and a plan to address them.

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act (HR 4018) improves the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program.

The Safe Doses Act (HR 4223) prohibits theft of medical products.

The Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting for Port Security Act (HR 4251) authorizes, enhances, and reforms certain port security programs through increased efficiency and risk-based coordination within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Enabling Energy Saving Innovations Act (HR 4850) allows for innovations and alternative technologies that meet or exceed desired energy efficiency goals.

The Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act (HR 5625) reinstates and transfers certain hydroelectric licenses and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of certain hydroelectric projects.

HR 5843: To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to permit use of certain grant funds for training conducted in conjunction with a national laboratory or research facility.

The Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act (HR 5889) provides for protection of maritime navigation and prevention of nuclear terrorism.

Other Bills of Interest

The Senate Farm Bill (S 3240)
The Senate approved this bill last week. The bill (#1 on POPVOX last week) spends about $100 billion a year, roughly locking in the current, elevated level of spending. About 80 percent of the bill is nutrition programs for people who need food assistance. The House is expected to develop a slightly different bill that may not completely eliminate direct payments to farmers, and may spend less than the Senate bill.

The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (HR 4480)
This bill (#6 on POPVOX) would require the administration to increase domestic oil leasing when it dispenses oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and also require the government to assess how environmental regulations affect gas prices. The House passed this bill last week.

HRes 683: Expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act
The House approved this bill (#3 on POPVOX) last week.

New Bills List

Check out the list of newly introduced bills.

Weekly Roundup

Missed a bill last week? Take a look at the list of bills POPVOX users found most important.

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