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Congress Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week In Review


The House Natural Resources Committee delayed a markup of a bill that would address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Most of the disagreement is within the Republican conference, though many Democrats also have concerns about the legislation.

House Republicans missed a deadline to adopt a budget for fiscal year 2017, a blow to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who promised to show that GOP lawmakers could handle the government-funding process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is now definitely enough evidence to say that the Zika virus could cause birth defects in infants. On Capitol Hill, House Republicans said they could move on a supplemental funding request to help battle the virus sometime before the end of September, but only if the White House provides more details on its prevention strategy.


The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill under consideration in the Senate will not include a provision to extend tax credits for renewable energy sources. Senate Democrats had threatened to block the measure if it didn’t include the tax credits, but they relented after it became clear the provision is opposed by most Republicans.

Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) bid to replace Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.) as the Senate’s no. 4 Republican ran into a roadblock. Senate Republicans have for the most part rallied to Barasso’s side and largely rejected Lee’s argument that the Wyoming Republican and other leadership figures are term-limited.

Congressional races

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) raised more than $17 million in the first quarter of 2016. The money was distributed to the NRCC, to Ryan’s personal campaign and to other GOP candidates.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) said he will not seek re-election. The 71-year-old House lawmaker was first elected in 2000.

A super PAC backing Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) pulled a gun control-themed ad at the request of the White House, which said the ad is “misleading.”

Presidential campaign

If the presidential election were held today, businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would lose to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to an extensive Morning Consult analysis of 44,000 poll respondents. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the only GOP candidate who could beat Clinton in the general right now.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he does not want, nor would he accept, his party’s nomination for president. Several dozen activists affiliated with the “Democracy Spring” campaign, a weeklong act of civil disobedience to protest the influence of money in politics, protested the speech outside the Republican National Committee building.

Trump is losing out on delegates, in large part due to his campaign’s demonstrated misunderstanding of the rules that govern the Republican nominating process.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attacked Clinton’s judgment and her ties to wealthy donors in last night’s Democratic presidential debate. Clinton responded with criticisms of Sanders’ understanding of certain policy issues.

What’s Ahead


New York holds its Democratic and GOP primary contests on Tuesday.


Both the House and the Senate are in session this week. The Senate votes on Monday at 5:30 p.m. to invoke cloture on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization measure, while the House votes on suspension bills at 6:30 p.m. that day.

House members are attempting to find 218 votes to support legislation that would address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told reporters the bill would be redrafted, but that nothing major would be changed. He said it was possible a markup would take place this week. Otherwise, the chamber will take up four GOP-backed Internal Revenue Service oversight bills in honor of Tax Day recently approved by the House Ways & Means Committee.

The House GOP’s inability to agree on a budget plan means appropriators will have to wait until May 15 before House rules allow them to bring individual spending bills to the floor. GOP leaders could also pursue a deeming resolution that would establish top-line spending limits, much like a budget. But because doing so would require leaning on Democratic votes, there is little interest among Republican lawmakers to pursue that route.

The Senate plans on finishing up a modest reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration early this week. A cloture vote on the underlying bill is scheduled for Monday evening.

Senators have reached an agreement to move ahead on a broad, bipartisan energy bill that has been stalled since February. A series of amendment votes and a vote on final passage are expected to be fast-tracked and take place all in one day, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has filed cloture on the first appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017: the Energy and Water Appropriations Act. That bill is teed up to move to the floor after completion of the FAA and energy bills. McConnell has said he is prepared to spend at least 12 weeks considering appropriations measures.

Mark Your Calendars (All Eastern Times)

House and Senate are back in session
Senate Banking Committee hearing on Iran sanctions 10:00 a.m.
House Appropriations markup of FY17 Agriculture, Energy and Water spending bills 10:30 a.m.
Senate Budget Committee hearing on budget process reform 10:30 a.m.
Joint Economic Committee hearing on the tax code 2:30 p.m.
Brookings Institution event on food insecurity with Agriculture Sec. Vilsack 8:30 a.m.
House Armed Services subcommittee markup of FY17 NDAA 12:00 p.m.
Earth Day
Paris Climate Agreement signing ceremony at United Nations


Morning Consult Congress Top Reads

1) House and Senate Charge Ahead on 2017 Spending Bills
Kellie Mejdrich, Roll Call

2) Ted Cruz, Value Bet
Reid Wilson, Morning Consult

3) Senate reaches deal on long-stalled energy bill
Jordain Carney, The Hill

4) House Republicans Mull Clever New Ways to Cut Spending
Will Dobbs-Allsopp, Morning Consult

5) How the feds uncovered Dennis Hastert’s sordid past
Jason Meisner et al., Chicago Tribune

6) House Republicans deadlocked over spending will miss budget deadline, dealing a blow to Ryan
Kelsey Snell, The Washington Post

7) Clean Energy Tax Credits in Limbo After Talks Melt Down
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

8) Mike Lee to run for a top Senate leadership post
Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

9) The GOP’s budget fail
Jake Sherman and Burgess Everett, Politico           

10) The Coming Week: FAA Bill Lingers, House Ponders Budget and Puerto Rico
Will Dobbs-Allsopp et al., Morning Consult