Washington Weekly
Jun. 15, 2015

Last Week

The Senate spent much of the week debating the National Defense Authorization Act. Much of the action however took place in the House. Following a difficult passage in the Senate, the House finally took up legislation approving trade legislation. Because of the Senate’s agreement, the legislation voted on in the House included not just provisions enabling President Obama to formally negotiate a trade deal with other nations, known as "Fast-Track Authority," but also funding and programs known as Trade Adjustment Assistance or TAA. TAA is widely popular among Democrats, but because it was tied to the fast-track authority, the House voted TAA down, (but did manage to approve the fast-track authority), with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi leading the opposition against the president's top priority. To see how your representative voted, click here.More

This Week

The Senate wraps up its work on the National Defense Authorization Act. 60 votes will be required to end debate on amendments, which could come as early as tomorrow. The House may vote on legislation directing the President to remove military personnel from Iraq in the fight against ISIS, but will be assuredly vetoed by the Commander in Chief. The House is also scheduled to bring a number of healthcare related items to the floor, as the Supreme Court keeps all of Washington waiting on its looming decision on the law. The measures slated for the floor include repealing the medical device tax, eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from terminating Medicare Advantage contracts that do not have minimum quality ratings. It is likely that they also revisit a vote on trade.More

Item of Interest

As mentioned, it would not be a June without millions of court watchers awaiting decisions impacting the lives of nearly each of us as the Supreme Court wraps up its term for 2014. One of the biggest that may have gotten your attention is a lawsuit the hinges on about five simple words. Known as King v. Burwell, specifically it could determine whether those who receive federal tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act provided that the plan that they are "enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State." It's well known that a number of states, particularly those led by a Republican governor or legislature have not established a state exchange. So it is questionable that those receiving the subsidy are legally permitted to do so. What is most important is neither the House or Senate, nor the White House have a back-up plans. If the subsidies are deemed null and void, millions of Americans could be faced with large health care bills in the near future. We'll be sure to bring you updates on the all the action expected to take place in July as a result of this decision. To see a number of predictions from industry experts, read what insurance brokers are saying here.More

Congress Poised to Renew Battle Over Online Sales Tax Legislation
National Journal
The debate over Internet taxes has resumed in Congress, and it's as messy as ever. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, is preparing to introduce online sales tax legislation June 15 that would expand the power of states to collect taxes from purchases made from out-of-state Internet vendors such as eBay.More

House GOP has 'Options' on Trade
The Hill
House Republicans have made no decisions on how to move a trade package forward following a colossal defeat on the floor at the end of last week. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., repeatedly dodged questions June 15 about the GOP's next steps, even as he said time is running out.More

President Gets Weekend to Swing Democrats on Trade Deal
Roll Call
The House will take a second crack at passing Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation early next week, after giving President Barack Obama and pro-trade Democrats the weekend to flip some of the party's 144 "no's." Republicans say this is Democrats' last chance to pass TAA, which provides resources for retraining programs for U.S. workers displaced by international trade agreements, and which Democrats have typically supported.More

Supreme Court Races the Clock on Gay Marriage, 'Obamacare' and More
USA Today
The future of same-sex marriage and President Barack Obama's health care law hang in the balance as the Supreme Court's 2014 term draws rapidly to a close. But those aren't the only big issues on the justices' plate. Free speech and fair elections. Religious liberty and racial discrimination. Clean air and capital punishment. All await rulings over the next three weeks as the court completes action on 20 cases remaining this term. The next decisions will come June 15.More