Washington Weekly
May. 18, 2015

Last week

The Senate spent the week focusing on international trade, starting off as an initial defeat for the president. Requiring 60 votes to begin debate, Senate Democrats effectively filibustered the bill, preventing it from advancing, all but Delaware Sen. Tom Carper voted in favor of beginning debate. After meeting with the president and receiving concessions such as worker retraining, Senate Democrats voted to move forward on the pact. The House spent much of the week focusing on the National Defense Authorization Act, which is the vehicle that sets defense and national security policy. In addition the House passed legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks as well as tightening legislation that regulated the National Security Agency's monitoring of foreign telephone calls.More

This week

The Senate will be busy trying to wrap up the trade legislation, while also meeting two looming deadline: the Patriot Act (which passed the House last week) and temporarily extending highway funding while long-term solutions get worked out. Because there is no pressing deadline on trade, it's possible that they hit the pause button to address the expiring Patriot Act and NSA surveillance. The House is expected to take up a two-month extension of the highway bill tomorrow, as well as federal appropriations for the legislative branch, as well as permanent renewal of the R&D tax credit and a number of energy, and science and technology programs needing reauthorization. More

Item of Interest

Last week, a pair of ASA members took to the pages of their local newspapers to spur Congress to do something about the un-level playing field between brick and mortar businesses and online sellers. The leaders in Congress have rather simple tests for advancing an issue, if they hear about it from their rank-and-file members. It is business owners like Plumbing & Heating Wholesale Inc.’s Mike Plasier and George T Sanders' Reed White and other members of ASA that are bringing this issue to their rank-and-file members of Congress to help get this onto Congress' agenda of must-pass items. Read their articles here and here.More

Washington's New Odd Couple: McConnell and Obama
The Hill
Washington's new odd couple is President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The longtime adversaries — McConnell memorably said his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president — are suddenly cooperating on trade legislation and saying nice things about one another. It's a marriage of convenience more than a new era, but the two leaders suddenly find themselves with common interests.More

Democrats Face Risky Votes Ahead of Memorial Day Recess
Roll Call
House Democrats have some tough decisions to make before Congress breaks for a weeklong Memorial Day recess. Walking a fine line between practicality and messaging, rank-and-file members are weighing their options for having the most impact on two legislative agenda items: a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund and the fiscal 2016 Legislative Branch appropriations bill.More

The Senate is about to Decide the Future of NSA Spying
National Journal
That's the question the Senate is asking itself as it enters its last legislative week before key provisions that authorize some of the government's sweeping domestic surveillance powers are due to lapse at the end of May. And if May 17 is any indication, the answer is clear: No, not a chance.More

GOP: Business Lobby Blowing it on Trade
Top House Republicans believe the business community is blowing its chance to clinch a trade deal. Unlike unions, they say, big business advocates aren't flooding Capitol phone lines. They're not winning over skeptical Republicans. And they haven't made much headway with business-friendly Democrats who are considering voting for the package, either. More