Washington Weekly
Nov. 17, 2014

Last Week

The House and Senate returned to Washington and spent much of the week organizing for the upcoming 2015 session. Both bodies to the surprise of many made progress on the Keystone XL pipeline. The House immediately passed legislation approving the project by a vote of 252 - 161, and sent the bill over to the Senate, which will take up the legislation early this week. It may be worth noting that the progress of this issue can be tied to the runoff election in Louisiana, as both lead proponents of the legislation will be squaring off on December 6. Opponents of the legislation and pipeline are touting the President’s ability to approve the project today and using this as a likely reason why he may end up vetoing the legislation, as the stroke of his pen could already accomplish what the legislation is seeking to do. See our letters of support here and here.More

This Week

The Senate is expected to vote on a bill to rein in the government's most controversial domestic-surveillance program. The legislation, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, would effectively end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone metadata. The rest of this week includes House action on three messaging bills tied to the EPA, including one to address so-called "secret science" by blocking regulations unless data is made public. There's also a Senate vote on a House-revised version of a child care and development block-grant bill, and action is expected on executive and judicial nominations.

Lawmakers in both chambers will also continue to focus on ISIS, as they grapple over a potential new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a law that was passed in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and is still in effect, and the Administration's request for an additional $5.6 billion in war funds. Congress also will hold a series of hearings this week on the Ebola outbreak that continues to ravage West Africa.

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Item of Interest

With the House and Senate gearing up to leave town for the Thanksgiving holiday, it should be noted that they are putting off the most controversial legislation until they return in December. Legislation that still must be passed includes funding the government through the next fiscal year, a National Defense Authorization Act, and a moratorium on taxing the use of the Internet. As we’ve said before, we’re hopeful that the Senate will include the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Internet tax moratorium, but more work is needed. The moratorium that passed the House was permanent, but a number of Senators appear philosophically opposed to that moratorium. We continue to pound the payment with our e-fairness colleagues working to soften support in the House for the possibility that one of the must-pass bills that will come from the Senate will include legislation leveling the playing field for e-fairness.More

Urgency Grows for Obama's Regulatory Agenda
The Hill
Time is fast running out on President Barack Obama's regulatory agenda and proponents of stronger health and safety protections are pressing the administration to redouble efforts to cement a host of new rules before it is too late. With a unified Republican Congress soon to be to be sworn in, public interest groups expect the president's last two years in office to be fraught with conflict as the administration tries to secure its legacy.More

The Angst is Rising on Capitol Hill
Politico
Behind the free-flowing wine, the K Street soirées and the massive new majorities, Republican leaders are facing a daunting reality: They are right where they left off. Republican leaders wanted a quick and clean, drama-free lame-duck session to kick off their new majority, but they find themselves heading toward a showdown over how to fund the government. More

EPA Chief Surprised by Resistance to Water Rule
The Hill
Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy said she was surprised by the way that opponents attacked her agency's attempt to redefine its jurisdiction over waterways. In a rule released in March, the EPA proposed a new way to determine whether or not something like a stream or pond is covered under the federal Clean Water Act.More

New House GOP Rules Impact Medals, Gavels — and Paul Ryan?
Roll Call
House Republicans will operate the 114th Congress under essentially the same rules as the 113th — with two exceptions, including one that could have big implications for Rep. Paul D. Ryan. Republicans voted Nov. 14 on conference rules for the 114th, approving a proposal that would allow Congress to hand out more medals and one that would require committee chairmen running for other office to hand over their gavel.More

Here's What House GOP Could do When Obama Issues his Immigration Order
National Journal
When President Barack Obama issues executive orders on immigration, House Republicans will be waiting with repercussions. They're readying for a fight as Obama crafts administrative action that could reportedly defer the deportation of as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants. This would likely count as the "big and bold" move Democrats are urging Obama to take, but many Republicans view this as an overreach of presidential power. It's an action that should have consequences, they say.More