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House Republicans look to move immigration crisis response bill

A House Republican working group, headed by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), laid out a series of recommendations for legislation to deal with the current crisis on our southern border. These recommendations include:

  • Deploy the National Guard to the border to assist Border Patrol agents. Granger did not say exactly what the number of troops might be.
  • Require the Homeland Security Department to craft and implement a plan to "gain operational control" of the southwest border.
  • Address border-security issues in Central America and Mexico.
  • Create repatriation centers to help families and unaccompanied minors once they return to their home country.
  • Implement aggressive messaging campaigns—which are already underway in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These are aimed at exposing the dangers of the journey to the U.S. and dispelling the myth that children will be permitted to enter the country.
  • Process family units within five to seven days. Children should have a fast-tracked immigration-court hearing within seven days after a child welfare official's screening. More judge teams and temporary judges would be added.
  • Establish an independent commission to craft metrics to show if initiatives to secure the border are working.
  • Create tough penalties for smugglers and disassemble transnational criminal organizations.

The most contentious recommendation would be a change to the 2008 anti-trafficking law prohibiting Central American children from voluntary removal.

Before even thinking about the future of this approach in the Senate, House Republican leaders must get through their own caucus, and the GOP outline may not have the full backing of House Republicans. The scope of conservative opposition to the Granger plan isn't yet fully known, but it is rooted in a narrative that has dictated GOP hostility to everything immigration-related that has been discussed during this Congress.

Financially speaking, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said $1.5 billion was the best estimate for emergency supplemental funding in the House, although the GOP conference hasn't come to a consensus on this number.

Outside the GOP conference, there's a major financial discrepancy between the administration, the Senate, and the House on the amount of funding that should be appropriated. The White House called for $3.7 billion. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) unveiled legislation Wednesday calling for more than $2 billion, including $1.2 billion—the largest allocation in the request—for Health and Human Services (HHS) so the agency can in part provide shelter for the children, according to a summary of the legislation released by the committee.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has sent multiple desperate warnings to lawmakers that, come mid-August, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will run out of money.

Without emergency supplemental funding, ICE will lack the resources to expand detention and removal capabilities for adults with children. HHS will lack the resources to create stable, more cost-effective arrangements for children crossing the border. And children will wait longer to see an immigration judge.

Affordable Care Act may be headed to the Supreme Court (again)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) appears on a crash course for the Supreme Court, again, after a pair of conflicting court rulings. Two federal Appeals Courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday in lawsuits that challenge the subsidies that the ACA provides to help people cover the cost of their premiums. One Appeals Court said the subsidies should be available only in states that set up their own insurance exchanges and ruled that the IRS broke the law by providing them nationwide. Hours later, another Appellate Court said the IRS did nothing wrong and the subsidies are legal everywhere.

The Justice Department lost the first of Tuesday's cases, Halbig v. Burwell, in which a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals limited Obamacare's subsidies to state-run exchanges. The Justice Department said Tuesday it will appeal the panel's ruling to the full D.C. Circuit Court.

The administration won the day's second case, King v. Sebelius, which was decided by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The challengers who lost in King could also seek a review before the full 4th Circuit.

The Supreme Court is more likely to take a case when there's a split between circuit courts, the very situation the two conflicting rulings created Tuesday. That's why the challengers are likely to appeal directly to the high court—the landscape right now is favorable to them.

But if the Justice Department wins its appeal in the Halbig case—which, again, is likely—there will no longer be a split between Appeals Courts, and the case could become less attractive to the Supreme Court justices. So it's in the challengers' interests to move quickly, before the full D.C. Circuit Court rules.

Click here to view the Washington Business Brief video, "New Developments in Healthcare and Immigration."

House Republicans rush to finish work before recess

House Republicans are rushing to finish a number of legislative initiatives before the month-long August recess begins.

At the very top of House Republican's to do list is a short-term spending bill aimed at keeping the government open and avoiding another politically damaging shut down. The current funding expires on Oct. 1 and House GOP leaders are hoping to pass a short-term bill that will keep the government funded and operating at current levels beyond Election Day in November.

To date, the House has passed seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills, while the Senate has passed none. And despite all of the talk about a return to “regular order” earlier this year, there is little expectation that the two chambers will complete passage of the bills on time.

In addition to a short-term spending bill, House Republican leadership is hoping to hold a vote on their plan for dealing with the current immigration crisis on our southern border. This week, the House formally rolled out the “Granger Plan” that includes $1.5 billion in supplemental spending—far short of the $3.7 billion the president requested.

The House also hopes that negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Veterans Affairs Department reform legislation can be completed and that a vote on the final bill can be held next week.

Finally, the House plans on voting to formally authorize House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against President Obama regarding his use of executive power.

President Obama signs non-discrimination executive order

On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals by companies that contract with the federal government.

The federal government already prohibits discrimination against gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in its own work force, but the president had been under pressure from LGBT rights activists to extend that protection to include companies that do work for the federal government. President Obama’s executive order also explicitly included gender identity—in addition to sexual orientation—specifically guaranteeing that transgender employees would also be protected from job discrimination.

In light of the controversial Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case there has been a renewed debate over the question of whether religious groups should be exempt from certain legislation that may be considered counter to their religious beliefs. President Obama declined to include any religious exemption in his executive order, but advocates for religious groups have promised to bring the action to court.

President Obama’s executive order adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories protected among federal contractors that was first approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

Transportation in focus

DOT unveils new train rules

This week, the Department of Transportation issued new rules regarding trains carrying crude oils. These new proposed rules would phase out older rail tank cars over the next two to five years. The proposed rules would also tighten speed limits and improve brakes.

The full details on the proposed rules can be found here for tank cars and here for responding to oil spills.

Senate to vote next week on highway patch

The Senate is poised to take up the issue of the patch to the Highway Trust Fund next week—possibly as early as Tuesday. The Senate is expected to vote on the House passed bill and the Wyden-Hatch bill (which largely mirrors the House passed bill), as well as the Boxer-Carper bill (which would only extend funding to December of this year). In addition, the Senate is likely to consider the Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) proposal to cut the gas tax to 3.7 cents per gallon coupled with giving states enhanced authority over transportation projects.

Finally, the Senate is expected to also consider a proposal from Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would waive the environmental review process for projects that are replacing infrastructure damaged in disasters.

 

Political bits

House

Georgia 1st Congressional District: State Senator Buddy Carter (R-GA) defeated surgeon Bob Johnson (R-GA), 54 to 46 percent.

Georgia 10th Congressional District: Baptist Preacher Jody Hice (R-GA) defeated businessman Mike Collins (R-GA), 54 to 46 percent.

Georgia 11th Congressional District: Former Rep. Bob Barr's (R-GA) comeback bid fell far short on Tuesday when he was defeated by former State Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) by a margin of 66 to 34 percent.

Senate

Georgia: In something of a surprise to poll watchers and pundits, businessman David Perdue (R-GA) defeated Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) in the Senate GOP runoff. Perdue beat Kingston, 51 to 49 percent despite polls showing Kingston with a five to eight point lead.

Georgia: This week, Hall of Fame great Hank Aaron endorsed Michelle Nunn (D-GA).

Virginia: A new Roanoke College poll shows Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) with a wide lead over former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie (R-VA). Warner leads 47 to 22 percent.

Governor

Florida: A new Quinnipiac poll shows former Governor Charlie Crist (D-FL) leading Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), 45 to 40 percent.

Maine: Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) raised $355,000 in the second quarter and ended with just over $1 million cash on hand. Governor Paul LePage (R-ME) raised $234,000 and has $917,000 cash on hand, while Eliot Cutler (I-ME) raised $181,000 from individual donors, loaned himself another $581,000 and has roughly $527,000 cash on hand.

South Carolina: A new Palmetto Politics poll shows Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) in a tight race with State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-SC). Haley leads 46 to 42 percent when respondents are asked about all candidates on the ballot. However, in a head to head with Sheheen, Haley leads by a comfortable 53 to 40 percent margin.

A look ahead

House

Monday, July 28:

3:00 p.m. House Energy and Commerce Committee: Health Subcommittee hearing on "Protecting Americans from Illegal Bailouts and Plan Cancellations Under the President's Health Care Law."

Tuesday, July 29:

9:30 a.m. House Homeland Security Committee: Transportation Security Subcommittee hearing on "Examining TSA's Management of the Screening Partnership Program."

10:00 a.m. House Agriculture Committee: Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit Subcommittee hearing on "Coordinating Future Investments in Broadband."

10:00 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Committee: Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on "FERC Perspectives: Questions Concerning EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan and other Grid Reliability Challenges."

10:00 a.m. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee: Research and Technology Subcommittee hearing on "A Review of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program."

10:00 a.m. House Armed Services Committee: Full committee hearing on "Security Situation in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Policy Options and Implications for the Region."

10:00 a.m. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee hearing on "Examining Allegations of Corruption at the Export-Import Bank."

10:00 a.m. House Judiciary Committee: Full committee hearing on "Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services."

10:00 a.m. House Natural Resources Committee: Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing on H.R.596, the "Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013"; H.R.1363, the "Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act"; and H.R.2004, the "Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2013."

10:00 a.m. House Natural Resources Committee: Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee hearing.

10:15 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Committee: Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee hearing on "Nanotechnology: Understanding How Small Solutions Drive Big Innovation."

11:00 a.m. House Ways and Means Committee: Social Security Subcommittee hearing on "What Workers Need to Know About Social Security as They Plan for Their Retirement."

2:00 p.m. House Foreign Affairs Committee: Full committee hearing on "Iran Nuclear Negotiations: From Extension to Final Agreement?"

2:00 p.m. House Foreign Affairs Committee: Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee hearing on "A U.S.-EU Trade Agreement: Bolstering Economic and National Security."

2:00 p.m. House Homeland Security Committee: Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee hearing on "Protecting the Homeland from Nuclear and Radiological Threats."

2:00 p.m. House Ways and Means Committee: Trade Subcommittee hearing on "Advancing the U.S. Trade Agenda: Trade with Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act."

2:00 p.m. House Natural Resources Committee: Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee hearing on H.R.3608, the "Grand Portage Band Per Capita Adjustment Act"; H.R.4534 the "Native American Children's Safety Act"; H.R.5020, the "Indian Tribal Self-Determination in Land Consolidation Act of 2014"; H.R.5049, the "Blackfoot River Land Exchange Act of 2014"; and H.R.5050, the "May 31, 1918 Act Repeal Act."

Wednesday, July 30:

9:30 a.m. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Full committee hearing on "IRS Abuses: Ensuring that Targeting Never Happens Again."

10:00 a.m. House Agriculture Committee: Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing the impact of enforcement activities by the Labor Department on specialty crop growers.

10:00 a.m. House Armed Services Committee: Full committee hearing on "Risks to Stability in Afghanistan: Politics, Security and International Commitment."

10:00 a.m. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee: Full committee hearing on "EPA's Carbon Plan: Failure by Design."

10:00 a.m. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee hearing on "GSA Tenant Agencies: Challenges and Opportunities in Reducing Costs of Leased Space."

10:00 a.m. House Judiciary Committee: Full committee hearing on "The IRS Targeting Scandal: The Need for a Special Counsel."

10:00 a.m. House Foreign Affairs Committee: Full committee markup of H.R.3398, to authorize the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to provide assistance to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries; and H.Res.281, Expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.

10:00 a.m. House Veterans' Affairs Committee: Full committee markup of pending legislation.

10:00 a.m. House Ways and Means Committee: Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee hearing on "Dynamic Analysis of the Tax Reform Act of 2014."

1:00 p.m. House Small Business Committee: Full committee hearing on "Regulatory Overreach: Is EPA Meeting Its Small Business Obligations?"

1:00 p.m. House Judiciary Committee: Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing on "Oversight of the False Claims Act."

2:00 p.m. House Foreign Affairs Committee: Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on "Building Prosperity in Latin America: Investor Confidence in the Rule of Law."

2:00 p.m. House Foreign Affairs Committee: Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee hearing on "Twenty-Years of U.S. Policy on North Korea: From Agreed Framework to Strategic Patience."

2:00 p.m. House Armed Services Committee: Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing on "Logistics and Sealift Force Requirements and Force Structure Assessment."

2:00 p.m. House Ways and Means Committee: Human Resources Subcommittee hearing on "Subsidized Job Programs and their Effectiveness in Helping Families Go to Work and Escape Poverty."

3:00 p.m. House Judiciary Committee: Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on "The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: The America Invents Act and Beyond, Domestic and International Policy Goals."

Thursday, July 31:

9:00 a.m. House (Select) Intelligence Committee: Full committee closed hearing on "Ongoing Intelligence Activities."

9:00 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Committee: Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on "PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) Implementation: Updates from CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and GAO (Government Accountability Office)."

10:00 a.m. House Small Business Committee: Health and Technology Subcommittee hearing on "Telemedicine: A Prescription for Small Medical Practices?"

Senate

Tuesday, July 29:

9:30 a.m. Senate Judiciary Committee: Full committee hearing on pending judicial nominations.

10:00 a.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Full committee hearing on "Iran: Status of the P-5+1."

10:00 a.m. Senate Finance Committee: Full committee hearing on "Tobacco: Taxes Owed, Avoided, and Evaded."

10:00 a.m. Senate Budget Committee: Full committee hearing on "Costs of Inaction: The Economic and Budgetary Consequences of Climate Change."

10:30 a.m. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee: Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee hearing on "Revisiting the RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies) Act: Progress and Challenges in Gulf Restoration Post-Deepwater Horizon."

2:15 p.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Full committee hearing on the nomination of John Tefft to be ambassador to the Russian Federation.

2:30 p.m. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee: Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee hearing on "Examining the Threats Posed by Climate Change."

2:30 p.m. Senate Finance Committee: International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee hearing on "The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement: Lessons Learned Two Years Later."

2:30 p.m. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: Full committee hearing on "Breaking the Logjam at BLM (Bureau of Land Management): Examining Ways to More Efficiently Process Permits for Energy Production on Federal Lands."

3:00 p.m. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee: Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing on "Opportunities and Challenges for Improving Truck Safety on our Highways."

Wednesday, July 30:

10:00 a.m. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee: Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee hearing on "The Flood Insurance Claims Process in Communities After Sandy: Lessons Learned and Potential Improvements."

10:00 a.m. Senate Finance Committee: Full committee hearing on "The African Growth and Opportunity Act at 14: The Road Ahead."

10:00 a.m. Senate Judiciary Committee: Full committee hearing on "VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence."

10:00 a.m. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: Full committee markup of pending calendar business.

10:15 a.m. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: Full committee hearing on "Paid Family Leave: The Benefits for Businesses and Working Families."

10:30 a.m. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee: Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing on domestic challenges and global competition in aviation manufacturing.

2:15 p.m. Senate Judiciary Committee: Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee hearing on "Pricing Policies and Competition in the Contact Lens Industry: Is What You See What You Get?"

2:15 p.m. Senate (Special Committee on) Aging: Full committee hearing on "Admitted or Not? The Impact of Medicare Observation Status on Seniors."

2:30 p.m. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee: Full committee hearing on "Cramming on Wireless Phone Bills: A Review of Consumer Protection Practices and Gaps."

2:30 p.m. Senate Indian Affairs Committee: Full committee hearing on responses to natural disasters in Indian country.

Washington by the numbers

61 percent: Public support in the U.K. for trade sanctions against Russia, up from 42 percent in March.

40 percent: Public support in the U.S. for the Affordable Care Act, mostly unchanged since March.

They said what?

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”  Rep. Michele Bachmann, on the possibility of running for president (RealClearPolitics)

Washington humor

"Speaking of Obama, yesterday Congressman Raul Labrador said that impeaching President Obama isn't a good idea, because, quote, 'no one wants President Joe Biden.' And that's when Biden realized why Obama picked him as a running mate." – Jimmy Fallon                   

  

 Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.559.2600

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
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