The House will return on Monday, with no votes to be held before 6:30 PM. The House will stay in session through Thursday.
The Senate will return on Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM. The Senate will stay in session through Friday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House began its week on Tuesday, with 29 bills on the Suspension Calendar. They got through a number of them, but still had 14 bills on the Suspension Calendar to deal with on Wednesday, including H.R. 6393, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2017, and H.R. 34, the updated 21st Century Cures Act, which was actually a vote on a House amendment to the Senate amendment on the bill. This was the combination package we discussed last week.
On Thursday, the House took up and passed H.R. 6392, the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act. On Friday, the House took up and passed S. 2943, the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2017. That bill, which authorizes a FY 2017 budget of almost $619 billion for the Pentagon, passed by a vote of 375-34, with 25 Members not voting. You may recall that one of the controversial elements of the NDAA this year was an attempt to require women to register for the draft; that section of the bill was dropped during negotiations between the House and Senate. In addition, the bill cuts the National Security Council staff to no more than 200 positions, which would cut it the NSC staff in half. The measure also includes provisions prohibiting the president from spending money to close the detention facility at the U.S. Naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
When the House returns on Monday, they’ll move to take up six bills on the Suspension Calendar. On Tuesday, they’ll move to take up 21 bills on the Suspension Calendar.
On Wednesday and Thursday, they’ll deal with other items they’ve added to the Suspension Calendar, and they’ll consider the conference report on the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 – that’s the bill that contains money for the water crisis in Flint, MI – and, finally, the Continuing Resolution for FY 2017 appropriations. And then they’ll close down for good.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate began its week by passing S. 2873, the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, sponsored by UT GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The bill passed by a vote of 97-0, and was sent to the House.
On Thursday, the Senate voted by 99-0 to pass and send to the President H.R. 6297, the Iran Sanctions Extension Act.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
At 5:30 PM Monday, the Senate will conduct a cloture vote on H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act. Sixty votes will be required to invoke cloture.
Beyond that, we’re not sure of the exact timing of the schedule, but here’s what I can tell you – the Senate will have this upcoming week to vote on the Energy Policy Modernization Act conference report, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, the Water Resources Development Act conference report, and the Continuing Resolution for FY 2017 appropriations.
We still haven’t seen the text of the Continuing Resolution, but we have good reason to believe that it will last not until March, but through April. The Senate has been making very loud noises for the last week about the need to extend the spending bill for another month, given the work load they’re going to have at the start of the new year with all the confirmations to which they’ll have to devote floor time. And the House doesn’t appear to be in a fighting mood over another four weeks. So it looks like the CR will last through April.
This week we learned about more of President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks:
- GA GOP Congressman Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, will be nominated to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was named as the President-elect’s pick for Secretary of Defense. He’ll need a law passed that allows him to serve, because current law requires a seven-year separation from service before a former armed services member can serve as Secretary of Defense.
- Financier Wilbur Ross will be nominated to serve as Secretary of Commerce
- Financier Steve Mnuchin will be nominated to serve as Secretary of the Treasury
- Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who also happens to be the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be nominated to serve as Transportation Secretary
- Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts will be nominated to serve as Deputy Commerce Secretary
- Ben Carson will be nominated to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
The latest update on possible choices for Secretary of State adds TN GOP Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former UT Gov. Jon Huntsman (who served Barack Obama as U.S. Ambassador to China, and who speaks Mandarin) to a list that already included Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and David Petraeus.
For Interior Secretary, the list includes OK Gov. Mary Fallin, soon-to-retire WY U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, former U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, and former AZ Gov. Jan Brewer, among others.
For Agriculture Secretary, the list includes current TX Secretary of Agriculture Sid Miller, KS Gov. Sam Brownback, and former governors Dave Heineman of NB, Sonny Perdue of GA, and Rick Perry of TX. Also in the mix is Charles Herbster, a major GOP donor and agribusiness leader who now chairs Trump’s ag advisory committee.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: