This week in Congress: Republicans take key steps on tax reform

Sanders vows to oppose Trump tax cut for rich
Sanders vows to oppose Trump tax cut for rich


    Sanders vows to oppose Trump tax cut for rich


Sanders vows to oppose Trump tax cut for rich 02:50

Story highlights

  • The budget resolutions expected to pass soon will play a key role in tax reform
  • There could also soon be a bipartisan deal in getting money for Obamacare

(CNN)Tax reform and health care will dominate the legislative action on Capitol Hill this week while lawmakers also track the federal response to Puerto Rico, the Equifax scandal, private plane travel by members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet and the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in last year's election.

Both chambers are working to pass budget resolutions that will lay the groundwork to pass tax reform in the Senate with just 51 votes. The House should pass its version of the bill by Thursday while the Senate budget committee plans to markup its version Wednesday and Thursday. Action on the tax bill itself is still weeks, if not months, away although negotiations over the provisions and details will pick up.
    The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate health committee are aiming to cut a deal sometime Monday on legislation to shore up Obamacare's individual markets by providing subsidies to health insurance companies that are used to lower out-of-pocket expenses for lower-income Americans. If they can reach an agreement, they hope to convince House and Senate bipartisan leaders and Trump to back the proposal, which is toxic to many Republicans because they see it as fixing Obamacare when they really want to repeal it. It remains highly unclear if this legislation will advance, but this will be a critical week to see if it can.
    The federal response to Puerto Rico will continue to be a major focus, and several lawmakers were scheduled to visit the island over the weekend. But the spending panels do not expect to get a detailed request from the Trump administration on how much money it will need in an emergency funding bill.
    Lawmakers will continue to press the administration about Trump Cabinet members using expensive private planes. The issue goes beyond just the actions of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was engulfed in the scandal last week and resigned Friday.
    The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee will hold a news conference Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. ET "on the status of the Committee's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections." No word yet what the panel's leaders, Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and top Democrat Mark Warner, of Virginia, will announce.
    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the House will vote on the "pain capable act" which bars abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The measure is expected to pass on a party-line vote.
    On immigration, House Democrats are continuing to press for the House vote on the Dream Act and could try to use procedural votes to continue to make the point that children of undocumented workers continue to face uncertainty since Trump announced he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy put into place by the Obama administration.
    The Senate convenes Monday at 3 p.m. ET, with a vote at 5:30 p.m. ET on Ajit Pai to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
    Senate Democrats are bracing for Republicans to advance a measure using the Congressional Review Act to repeal a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that blocked forced arbitration by financial firms. Republicans have not scheduled a vote yet, but it could come this week. Democrats are hopeful to peel off at least three Republicans because the CRA can't be filibustered and therefore can pass with 50 votes and a tie-breaking vote by the vice president.
    Wednesday night is "pet night" on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers, staff and advocates gathering to highlight the human health and therapeutic benefits of pet ownership.

    Key hearings

    AFGHANISTAN -- Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford will appear before the Senate armed services committee Tuesday to discuss the political and security situation in Afghanistan.
    DACA -- The Senate judiciary committee will hold an oversight hearing Tuesday to examine the administration's decision to end the DACA program.
    THREE EQUIFAX HEARINGS - The House energy and commerce committee will hold a hearing on the data breach at Equifax on Tuesday, and former CEO Richard Smith was invited to testify. The Senate banking committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine the Equifax security breach -- their announcement says that Smith will be there. Also, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will follow that afternoon with another hearing on Equifax, focusing on continuing to monitor data-broker cybersecurity.
    ROBO CALLS -- And, finally, the Senate aging committee will hold a hearing looking into ways to combat robocalls.