Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of December 16, 2019

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of December 16, 2019

THE HOUSE

The House formally returns on Tuesday with a full plate ahead of what is expected to be the final legislative work week of 2019. On the impeachment front, the House Rules Committee is expected to meet on Tuesday to set the guidelines for floor debate on Articles of Impeachment. A final floor vote is likely to occur in the House on Wednesday before impeachment moves to the Senate.

Congressional Appropriators, who announced a deal in principle last week, are scrambling to put the finishing touches on a spending package to fund the government and avoid a shutdown that could begin on December 20. The House is hoping to release bill text on the legislation on Monday in hopes of passing it the next day. The bill must pass by the end of the day Tuesday if there is to be any hope of the Senate taking up the measure in time to avoid a shutdown.

President Trump’s long-awaited major trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is expected to pass this week as well if all goes according to plan. Obstacles remain, however; a recently added provision that would put U.S. inspectors on the ground in Mexico to ensure labor provisions are upheld has greatly perturbed Mexican officials.

THE SENATE

The Senate returned to session on Monday and is expected to take up the conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the evening before proceeding to a cloture vote, moving the bill one step closer to President Trump’s desk for signing.

Multiple Senate committees are also expected to vote to proceed with several nominations. On Tuesday, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is expected to vote on Paul Ray’s nomination to serve as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on Lanny Erdos’ nomination to serve as Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement at the Interior Department. On Wednesday, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will vote on Jovita Carranza’s nomination to serve as the new Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

While his House counterparts may be rushing to pass the USMCA before the end of the year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in no such rush. McConnell has indicated that any floor action on USMCA would take place next year, after impeachment proceedings have wrapped up.

THE ADMINISTRATION

Despite the looming threat of impeachment in the House, President Donald Trump will be keeping busy this week. Monday afternoon the President participated in a governors’ roundtable discussion on regulatory innovation at the White House. Following the roundtable, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended a Christmas reception. Wednesday evening, the President is expected to travel to Battle Creek, Michigan for a campaign rally.

Meanwhile, many of President Trump’s top cabinet officials and advisers are on the move this week. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump will travel to Qatar for the Doha Forum. Also on Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper traveled to Belgium, Luxembourg. On Wednesday, he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expected to hold a second round of talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. U.S. Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation Jeffrey Eberhardt will spend the week in the United Kingdom discussing disarmament diplomacy at a nuclear nonproliferation conference.

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