Washington Weekly
Sep. 15, 2014

Last Week

The Senate cleared a number of judicial and executive branch nominees and spent the remainder of the week debating an amendment to the constitution, which many consider just pre-election messaging. The amendment, which failed to achieve the 60-vote threshold to proceed, would limit contributions to political campaigns: an issue which opponents believe is a direct strike on the first amendment. If passed, the amendment would grant Congress and the states the power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal and state elections. Also, in its own run-up to the midterm elections, the House voted to condemn the president on the administration's "prisoner swap," trading prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for Army Sargent Bowe Bergdahl. Section 1035 of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act requires the President to notify Congress not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of any terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay takes place. In addition, the House passed legislation that would reverse the EPA’s move to reclassify American waterways under the Clean Water Act, by bringing nearly every water way in the nation under federal control.More

This Week

The Senate is expected to continue its midterm election messaging votes by taking up the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to boost pay equity for women by allowing workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination and punishing employers that retaliate against workers sharing wage information. While it waits for the House to send over a Continuing Resolution, the Senate may also vote once more on reforming student loans. The House will also use this week to make its closing arguments to the voters by sending to the Senate a package of jobs bills, as well as legislation preventing IRS employees from using personal email accounts while conducting official business. In addition, the House is expected to pass a clean continuing resolution to keep the government funding, as well as addressing the President’s request for action in the Middle East.More

Item of Interest

Last week OSHA announced a final rule updating the notification process when a death or work-related hospitalization, loss of an eye, or amputation occurs at the workplace. Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule. To learn more, click here.More

Hill Agenda This Week: Fund the Government and Arm Syrian Rebels
National Journal
Come back to Washington from August recess and pass a temporary spending bill to keep government from shutting down Oct. 1, then return home to campaign ahead of the midterm elections. That was all Congress wanted to do in September. Instead, lawmakers eager to go home at the end of this week for the pre-Election Day stretch run must first deal with President Obama's request for authority to arm Syrian rebels. And they will also play host this week to the president of Ukraine, who will be addressing Congress Sept. 18, amid the ongoing incursion of Russian forces into his country's territory.More

Momentum Builds to Allow US Oil Exports
The Hill
For the first time in decades there are calls within the House Republican conference to lift the ban on crude oil exports, signaling what could become a sweeping shift in U.S. policy. In the last month, the Texas congressional delegation — in particular Rep. Joe Barton (R), who heads the House task force studying oil exports — has ramped up pressure to lift the moratorium, which dates back to the 1970s. More

A GOP Senate Could Take on Obamacare — but not Repeal it
A Republican-controlled Senate cannot repeal Obamacare, no matter how fervently GOP candidates pledge to do so on the campaign trail this fall. But if they do win the majority, Senate Republicans could inflict deep and lasting damage to the president's signature law. Republicans are quick to say they are not yet measuring the proverbial drapes. But they are taking the political measurements of repealing large parts of the health law, considering which pieces could be repealed with Democratic support, and how to leverage the annual appropriations and budget process to eliminate funding or large pieces of the law.More

Campaign Money Debate Won't Help Hill's Reputation
Roll Call
It's nothing more than another Senate floor sideshow this week, a stage-managed debate in slow motion where the ultimate outcome is such a decisive and foreordained defeat that almost no one is paying attention. Paying short shrift to the campaign finance constitutional amendment may be understandable, especially in light of the two imminently consequential matters lawmakers must tackle before decamping to campaign: Voting to keep the government open beyond the election and deciding how to take a stand on the coming military intervention in Syria.More