Washington Weekly
Jun. 9, 2014

Last Week

The House was in recess. The Senate cleared more than a dozen nominees for the federal courts, along with the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. More

This Week

The House returns to continue taking up FY 2015 appropriations, focusing on the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, commonly known as the THUD bill. In addition, both sides will dig into the recent prisoner swap with the Senate bringing in the Deputy Defense Secretary to testify on Tuesday and the House hearing from the Secretary of Defense on Wednesday. The Senate may move on student loan legislation, which the President waded into this weekend with an endorsement of capping student loans based on what a graduate earns. The Senate bill would allow college graduates with high outstanding student-loan rates to refinance at 3.86 percent, the level set for some government-backed loans. In addition, the Senate is likely to hotline a compromised bill by Sens. McCain and Sanders regarding the VA crisis. If passed, it would give the VA Secretary expanded authority to fire executives, to hire more doctors, and to allow some veterans to seek healthcare outside the VAs. More

Item of Interest

This week hundreds of small-business owners from across the country will be traveling to Washington as part of the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. We are excited that ASA President John Strong and Lee Plasier of Plumbing and Heating Wholesale Inc. will be traveling to Washington to stand up for Marketplace Fairness and for leveling the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and their Internet competitors.More

Weakest Link in EPA's Climate Rule?
The Hill
A key concession touted by vulnerable Democrats in the administration's new carbon pollution standards may provide the greatest legal threat to the controversial new rules, the cornerstone of President Obama's climate change agenda.More

Pressure Mounts Over VA, Prisoner Swap, and Highway Funding
Congress heads into more turbulence this week with controversies over the Veterans Affairs Department, the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, and a looming highway-funding crisis all coming to the fore.More

House GOP Unveils Energy Spending Bill
House Republicans proposed a $34 billion energy and water budget Monday that restores almost $1 billion in White House cuts from the Army Corps of Engineers and instead takes money from renewable energy programs prized by President Obama. While many Democrats would agree that Obama went too far in in his cuts from the Corps, the tradeoff is a graphic illustration of the choices forced this summer by the strict spending caps agreed to last December.More

North Carolina is Ground Zero for Unemployment Extension Fallout
Roll Call
With Congress showing few signs of passing an unemployment extension in 2014, North Carolina's tossup Senate race will be a key test of the issue's political potency. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger, state Speaker Thom Tillis, have taken sharply different stands on unemployment benefits, and the issue could cut both ways.More