With the House and Senate out of session this week, we present you with a somewhat abbreviated This Week in Washington:
Immigration reform in the House
While members of both parties in the Senate seem committed to moving a single comprehensive immigration reform bill—the bipartisan Gang of 8 released their bill last week—the future of reform in the House is much murkier.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced this week that his committee would eschew the single comprehensive bill approach and instead focus on a slower, piecemeal approach to the issue.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, "Senate leaders fear that path is a recipe for a slow death for the idea of comprehensive change, allowing for interest groups to cherry-pick the changes of most value to them while leaving other pieces behind."
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the leaders on immigration reform in the Senate, acknowledged the Senate bill couldn't pass in the House but struck a more optimistic tone, believing his bill could serve as a starting point for his House colleagues.
This week, President Obama unveiled a host of nominees for key administration positions. Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthong Foxx was nominated to serve as Secretary of Transportation; Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker was nominated to serve as Secretary of Commerce; former lobbyist Tom Wheeler was tapped to lead the Federal Communications Commission; former Obama classmate Mike Froman was nominated as United States Trade Representative; and U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. While many of the nominees are likely to face tough questioning by Republicans in the Senate, Mike Froman's path may be the easiest—his nomination was lauded by several Republicans—and Rep. Watt's nomination path might be the rockiest given Republican concerns about having a Democratic politician lead the agency tasked with overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Tax reform still faces uphill battle
After announcing he was not seeking re-election in 2014, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) said he would make comprehensive tax reform his number one priority. The announcement was greeted by proponents of tax reform who are hopeful that Baucus' efforts in the Senate, coupled with the efforts of House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI), could lead to a major overhaul of our tax code before the 2014 mid-terms.
Not everyone shares that optimistic view. Some believe the Baucus announcement doesn't fundamentally change the playing field and without some sort of "game-changer" the odds of getting comprehensive tax reform done before 2015 remain long.
Internet sales tax
On Monday of next week, the Senate is expected to vote on internet sales tax legislation known as the "Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013." The Senate was expected to consider it last Friday, but instead took up legislation aimed at ending the sequestration-related furlough of air traffic controllers.
The internet sales tax provision is expected to pass in the Senate, but its future in the House remains unclear.
This morning, the Labor Department announced that the economy had created 165,000 jobs in the month of April and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent. Additionally, March and February job numbers were revised to show an additional 124,000 jobs were created.
The United States has twice the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday. Given this news, we thought it would be interesting to share this map showing where shale gas reserves in the lower 48 states are located:
Cyber security is one of the hot issues in Washington. The House has passed its version of cyber security legislation, but its future remains unclear after President Obama threatened to veto the legislation if additional privacy protections were not included. Given the current debate, we thought it would be helpful to share these two graphics showing the likely targets and sources of data breach:
South Carolina 1st Congressional District Special Election: Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday of next week to choose either former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) or Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in the special election race in the solidly Republican South Carolina 1st Congressional District. Recent polling showed Sanford trailing Colbert-Busch, but analysts believe he could still win.
Georgia: Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) announced this week he would run for the Senate from the Peach State in 2014. Kingston joins his colleagues Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) in the race and is expected to be joined by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
Iowa: What was once seen as a top pickup opportunity for Republicans in 2014 may be slipping away from the GOP early. This week, Republican Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey announced he would not enter the race to fill the seat of retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Northey joins a growing list of GOP heavyweights taking a pass on running. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) previously announced they would not run.
Massachusetts Special Election: This week, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) won the Democratic nomination to fill the seat vacated by John Kerry's confirmation as Secretary of State. Markey defeated fellow Democratic House member Stephen Lynch (D-MA). Markey will face Republican businessman and former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez, who won the GOP nomination in the June 25th special election.
While Markey starts as the clear frontrunner, Democrats are not taking anything for granted, hoping to avoid another Scott Brown-esque special election upset.
A look ahead:
Tuesday, May 7 – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee and the House Judiciary Committee’s Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on the DOJ’s Quid Pro Quo With St. Paul: A Whistle-blower's Perspective, in 2151 Rayburn at 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, May 8 – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage, in 2154 Rayburn at 11:30 a.m.
Monday, May 6 – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee staff will hold a briefing in advance of a May 8 hearing on improving the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Minority Women, in 428-A Russell at 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 7 – The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Fred Hochberg to be president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States in 538 Dirksen at 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, May 8 – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a markup to vote on the nomination of Thomas Perez to be Labor Secretary and any additional nominations cleared for action in 430 Dirksen at 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, May 9 – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, in 216 Hart at 9:30 a.m.
Washington humor:“I’m not the strapping young Muslim Socialist that I used to be.” – President Obama at the White House Correspondents Association dinner.
Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.737.8933
McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
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