The Senate turns its attention to the annual defense policy bill this week
There are also more hearings on health care and responding to terrorism
Lawmakers scrambled out of Washington last week ahead of Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida – but not before passing billions in emergency funding for FEMA to help the agency respond to Irma and Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas and Louisiana last month.
As they return to the capitol, members will assess how much additional funding may be needed to help those communities recover from the storms.
The disaster relief money was tied to a short-term fiscal accord surprisingly agreed to by President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats. That means the pressure is off Republicans – who control Congress – until December, when they must reach a fresh deal to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government.
On a similar note, the Senate homeland security committee will hold a confirmation hearing Tuesday for Daniel Kaniewski to be deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness at FEMA.
The Senate turns its attention to the annual defense policy bill, a massive measure so important to lawmakers it has been approved each year for more than a half century. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and who chairs the armed services committee, will manage the bill on the floor.
“I’m fine,” McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday in regards to his cancer diagnosis. “The prognosis is pretty good. Look, this is a very vicious form of cancer that I’m facing, but all the results so far are excellent.”
Democrats are preparing amendment language to fight Trump’s contentious ban on transgender service members. It’s unclear if they will get a vote on the emotionally charged issue.
The House resumes debate and votes on a massive omnibus spending bill for next year. Once it passes, GOP leaders can claim credit for approving all the appropriations bills for 2018. But because it breaks existing budget caps, the giant funding bill is essentially dead on arrival in the Senate, since Democrats oppose it and their votes would be needed for it to advance there.
Talks over a major tax overhaul will continue as Republicans in the House and Senate work with the White House to craft a deal to lower rates and reduce loopholes. Negotiators say they are making progress but there is no evidence they are close to announcing a deal.
A bipartisan group of senators will continue trying to come to an agreement on a bill to stabilize insurance markets by approving subsidies that help lower-income Americans buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said last week he hopes to reach an agreement in about 10 days. The effort comes after Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare over the summer.
The Senate health committee has two hearings – one Tuesday and one Thursday – related to its market stabilization legislation. One will deal with state flexibility and the other healthcare stakeholders.
Investigators from the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate judiciary committee will continue their respective probes of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related issues.
The Senate judiciary committee will also hold a hearing Wednesday examining possible reforms to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the nation’s guest worker programs with a variety of expert witnesses from the government, labor unions, business groups, and elsewhere. Trump announced his plans to end the program last week, giving Congress a six-month window to save the program.
The Senate will be in session Monday at 3 p.m. After observing a moment of silence in honor of the victims of 9/11, senators at 5:30 p.m. will cast a procedural vote related to the defense bill.
The House homeland security committee has a hearing examining terrorist threats around the 16th anniversary of 9/11.
The House was originally scheduled to be in Monday for votes, but due to Hurricane Irma, House votes were postponed until Tuesday, according to a notice from the House Majority Leader.
The House foreign affairs committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on North Korea sanctions and diplomacy.