When Trump is gone, adults in charge in Congress
President Trump is on his first overseas trip this week – visiting the nations of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, and Belgium – but the White House will still make domestic headlines with the expected release of its complete budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. The initial “skinny budget” outlined in March detailed significant cuts to domestic discretionary programs, most notably the budgets for the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency.
The full budget, expected to be released tomorrow, will spark conversations on Capitol Hill, where some Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism of the President’s plan to drastically reduce spending on bipartisan priorities, such as the National Institutes of Health. Regardless of the President’s proposal, however, Congress is well-behind schedule on the appropriations process for the 2018 fiscal year, which will likely necessitate the use of a stopgap solution this fall.
Additional developments in the health care space are likely this week, including Congress receiving an update on the House of Representatives’ court case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) cost-sharing payments. The case, previously known as House v. Burwell and now referred to as House v. Price, could upend the insurance market by deeming the payments unconstitutional, while the Trump Administration could also force that outcome by dropping the Administration’s appeal of a lower-court decision. It was reported last week that President Trump has told advisors he favors curtailing the cost-sharing subsidies – an estimated $7 billion in payments to insurers that will play a significant role in the stability of the individual market in 2018.
A busy legislative agenda in Congress
On May 24, 2017, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its latest score of the AHCA, which will provide updated coverage and cost figures following the changes made to the bill before it passed the lower chamber. Although unlikely, the score could potentially force the House to vote on the package again as it attempts to obey Senate rules on budget reconciliation, which allow the majority party to circumvent filibusters.
Both chambers will be in session this week ahead of a Memorial Day recess due to start Friday. the Senate will start the week with a final up-or-down vote on the nomination of former Iowa governor Terry Branstad to be Ambassador to China. The upper chamber will also consider the nomination of John Sullivan to serve as Deputy Secretary of State, with several other confirmation votes for sub-Cabinet officials possible. Meanwhile, the House has a series of bills on the floor for consideration, with issues ranging from protecting children from exploitation (H.R. 1761) to regulatory reform (H.R. 953). Today, six suspension bills are scheduled to be considered, namely:
- H.R. 1862 – The Global Child Protection Act would expand the scope of certain legal definitions pertaining to unlawful sexual conduct.
- H.R. 1842 – The Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 would add State crimes of violence to those that are grounds for an enhanced penalty when sex offenders fail to register as required by law.
- H.R. 1188 – The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act would reauthorize a program initiated in 2006 to address child sex offenses, including both penalties for perpetrators and resources provided to victims.
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- H.R. 883 – The Targeting Child Predators Act of 2017 would provide a certification process for the process of issuing nondisclosure requirements accompanying administrative subpoenas in certain cases of child exploitation.
- H.R. 695 – The Child Protection Improvements Act would establish aa national background system for individuals working in childcare, elderly care, or disability care.
- H.R. 1625 – The Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking (TARGET) Act would add trafficking to the definition of transnational organized crime in regards to the State Department’s information reward programs.