FedWeb.com Tip Sheet: Breaking Developments

April 23, 2018 / by Charles S. Konigsberg

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2018 Legislative-Executive Watch List:

  • NAFTA Negotiations:  
    • According to Politico, the White House says it has been leading an "Administration-wide effort of officials going to the Hill and fully briefing all relevant staffers and members in the chances that we will have a NAFTA announcement to make."
    • Press report on negotiations from The Globe and Mail.
    • CRS: NAFTA Renegotiation and Modernization:  "The entry into force of a renegotiated or modernized NAFTA would likely take one of two forms: (1) a renegotiated agreement that would require changes to U.S. law or (2) changes to the agreement that could be made effective by presidential proclamation. If a renegotiated agreement requires changes to U.S. law, the President likely would seek expedited treatment of the implementing legislation under TPA (Trade Promotion Authority), which would require consideration by Congress."
  • Negotiations with North Korea - nonpartisan background: 
  • 2018 Farm Bill / SNAP Cuts Reported by Committee:
  • FY 2019 Budget Resolution Unlikely: 
    • Contrary to previous comments, House Budget Chairman Steve Womack has said his committee will write a 2019 Budget Resolution.  Womack indicated the Resolution will focus on entitlement cuts.
    • However, that could change, because entitlement cuts are likely a non-starter in the Senate where Majority Leader McConnell has downplayed the need for a filibuster-proof Budget Reconciliation bill this year.
    • A Congressional Budget Resolution requires House-Senate concurrence.
    • As for discretionary (non-entitlement) spending levels, a Budget Resolution for FY 2019 is unnecessary because levels for 2019 were set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
  • Making Tax Cuts Permanent is Highly Unlikely:
    • The 2017 tax bill made corporate tax cuts permanent, but individual cuts expire in 2025.
    • While the White House and GOP Leadership have been talking about passing legislation to make the cuts permanent, it is highly unlikely to pass the Senate. Two reasons:
      • A GOP filibuster-proof "Reconciliation Bill" can only be generated by Congress adopting a Budget Resolution for FY'19, which is highly unlikely (see above).
      • Even if a Reconciliation Bill could be advanced, making tax cuts permanent would violate the Senate's Byrd Rule, which prohibits outyear deficit increases.
    • However, a vote on a tax cut extension bill is likely in the House -- and has been promised by Speaker Ryan.
  • FY'18 Rescission Bill Unlikely: 
  • DACA remains an urgent issue...
    • with 700,000 young people protected from deportation only by Federal District Court injunctions temporarily halting the Trump Administration's termination of the program.
    • The political impasse over a legislative solution continues.  Background on DACA.
  • Financial Regulation - House and Senate remain on separate tracks:
    • The financial regulation bill passed by the Senate with bipartisan support raises the SIFI threshold (regulation of systemically important financial institutions) and provides some regulatory relief for small community banks and credit unions, but leaves most of Dodd-Frank (including the CFPB) intact.
    • The House legislation would repeal Dodd-Frank -- an approach that has no chance of passing the Senate.
    • Background
  • Major action on infrastructure has dropped off the 2018 agenda. 
    • The White House planclaiming that $200 billion in federal funds would leverage $1.5 trillion in spending by assuming State, local, and private sector investments that would not otherwise occur, gained little traction on Capitol Hill and the Administration's point person on infrastructure left the White House in early April.
    • Senate Democrats’ "Jobs & Infrastructure Plan" to invest $1 trillion of federal resources in infrastructure -- paid for by rolling back parts of the 2017 tax cuts -- has no support among Republicans.
    • More on Infrastructure...
  • Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform held first hearing:
    • Notable comment from co-chair Nita Lowey (D-NY):  “The root cause of our current situation has much more to do with deep policy disagreements, often over issues that shouldn’t be part of appropriations bills and a lack of political will,” Lowey said. “Procedural reforms alone are insufficient, but perhaps an improved process could facilitate reaching and implementing agreements when there is the will to do so.”
    • Process reforms discussed at the hearing included changes to the debt ceiling, moving the fiscal year to a calendar year, prohibiting filibuster-proof Budget Reconciliation measures from raising deficits, biennial budgeting, and a Joint Budget Resolution requiring the President's signature.  Click here for further details of the hearing.

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About Charles S. Konigsberg and the Federal Budget Group LLC
Charles Konigsberg

Charles Konigsberg, President of the Federal Budget Group and Founder of FedWeb.com, has served as Assistant Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, General Counsel and minority Chief Health Counsel at Senate Finance Committee, Minority Chief Counsel at Senate Rules Committee, Staff Attorney at Senate Budget Committee, Director of Congressional Affairs at the Corporation for National Service, Director of the Bipartisan Debt Reduction Task Force, and is author of a comprehensive, plain English explanation of the Federal budget, America’s Priorities.”.

2018 Congressional Calendar

(Note: House is in recess numerous Mondays and Fridays; check majorityleader.gov)

  • Jan 3: HSE, SEN convene
  • Jan 22-26: HSE recess
  • Feb 1-2: HSE recess
  • Feb 8-9: HSE recess
  • Feb 19-23: Pres Day recess
  • Mar 26-Apr 6: Easter/Passover recess
  • Apr 30-May 4: HSE recess
  • May 28-Jun 1: Mem Day recess
  • Jul 2-6: July 4 recess
  • Jul 30/Aug 6-Sept 3: HSE/SEN Summer recess
  • Sept 10-11: Rosh Hashanah recess
  • Sept 17-21: HSE recess
  • Oct 15-Nov 9: HSE Election recess
  • Oct 29-Nov 12: SEN Election recess
  • Nov 6: ELECTION DAY
  • 19-23: Thanksgiving recess
  • Dec. 13/14: HSE/SEN Target Adjournment
  • CLICK HERE AND PRINT OUR 2018 HOUSE-SENATE CALENDAR