Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of July 20, 2020

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of July 20, 2020

THE HOUSE

The House is back in session today following a two-week absence. While the House is currently only scheduled to be in session for the next two weeks, Members are being advised that the start of August recess may be delayed by a week as the House has a number of important measures to take up under the health-conscious but much slower voting procedures being used during the pandemic. The House’s top priority will be advancing nearly all of the spending bills needed to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year beginning on October 1, including the proposed $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act.

The next priority for the House will be negotiations on the latest round of pandemic relief legislation, with a focus on economic recovery and addressing the latest surge in positive COVID-19 cases across the country. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are expected to begin discussions with Congressional Republicans and the Administration later this week.

THE SENATE

The Senate also returned to session today following an extended 4th of July vacation and are scheduled to be in session for at least the next three weeks. While the House is working its way through the various appropriations bills on the floor, the Senate will use much of its floor time this week on a batch of executive branch nominations. Behind the scenes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he intends to present a draft COVID-19 relief bill to the Republican Conference at their lunch on Tuesday afternoon and open it up for discussion. McConnell has said for months that he intends to prioritize legal protections for businesses reopening during the pandemic in the next phase of relief legislation. McConnell and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) had been working on just such a provision, and draft language providing businesses liability protection was circulated among Senate Republican offices late last week.

THE ADMINISTRATION

The Administration will also continue to play a leading role in crafting the latest COVID-19 relief legislation. On Monday morning, President Trump hosted McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the Oval Office for a meeting with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to discuss priorities for the legislation. During the meeting, President Trump indicated to reporters that coronavirus press briefings will likely be making a return as early as 5pm on Monday or Tuesday of this week. This evening, Meadows is expected to be on Capitol Hill to meet with his former House Republican colleagues. Mnuchin has said that he and Meadows will also attend tomorrow’s Senate Republican Conference lunch as McConnell unveils his draft legislation to colleagues