The House and Senate are in session this week. Here’s what to expect:
Inside the Beltway
Congress returns from its President’s Day recess with a limited floor agenda this week. Several discussions are occurring outside of the spotlight this week, with the March 23 government-funding deadline eyed as an opportunity for action on issues ranging from immigration to wildfire funding.
Congressional appropriators are working behind closed doors on FY2018 spending bills, which would incorporate the spending cap increases allowed for in the recent budget agreement – an additional $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for non-defense accounts this year. Many groups in the conservation community, including TRCP, have requested increases across the appropriations subcommittees be made proportional to the overall spending increase. Meanwhile, FY2019 spending legislation will start coming together in short order, as House members have until March 16 to submit their appropriations requests.
Two weeks ago, the White House released its FY19 budget request and its $1.5-trillion (or $200-billion) infrastructure plan – both of which received a lackluster response from Congress. The budget proposes severe cuts to domestic spending, choosing not to fully incorporate the spending increases allowed for in the recent budget deal. The infrastructure package is facing resistance based on how it would be paid for, as well as its proposed environmental permit streamlining. Congress may work to find agreeable portions of the package to support legislatively, such as a possible fund to target the maintenance backlogs on public lands, though again spending “pay-fors” could frustrate matters. See TRCP’s blog post reacting to the budget and infrastructure packages.
An infrastructure topic that could see movement this year is a Water Resources Development Act, which sets project and policy priorities at the Army Corps of Engineers. Both chambers are in early stages of compiling legislation, and TRCP and several partner organizations are finalizing a WRDA priority letter to use in Hill advocacy. Committees in both the House and Senate were reportedly slated to hold hearings this week with the Assistant Secretary of the Army R.D. James, though the House-side hearing has been postponed and the Senate hearing is still scant on details. WRDA bills traditionally receive strong bipartisan support.
The Senate Commerce Committee will markup the bipartisan Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) on Wednesday morning. The bill would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to incorporate more accurate catch data into fisheries management, among other provisions supported by many recreational angler organizations. TRCP supports the bill and is submitting testimony for the record this week, while the American Sportfishing Association has a great advocacy toolkit for the bill.
On Tuesday morning, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing examining the state of the nation’s energy infrastructure. TRCP will be especially interested to hear possible comments on land-use planning and habitat mitigation. While a particular bill is not explicitly under consideration, this hearing will likely support the goals of the administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.
On the Floor
The House will vote on a handful of non-controversial bills early in the week, and will not hold votes beyond Tuesday as the late Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor in the Capitol.
The Senate will vote on a number of judicial nominees throughout the week.
Hearings and Markups
House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy; State of the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in 2123 Rayburn at 10 AM
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans; Hearing on Two Coast Barrier Resources Bills
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in 1324 Longworth at 10 AM
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources; Liquefied Natural Gas and U.S. Geopolitics
Tuesday, February 27, 2017 in 1324 Longworth at 2 PM
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; Markup of the Modern Fish Act
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in 106 Dirksen at 10 AM
*Water Infrastructure* – POSTPONED Date TBD
House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment; America’s Water Resources Infrastructure: Projects and Policies
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in 2167 Rayburn at 10 AM
Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power; Hearing on Five Bills
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in 366 Dirksen at 10 AM
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands; Hearing on Four Land Designations Bills
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in 1324 Longworth at 2 PM
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; The Administration’s Framework for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America
Thursday, March 1, 2018 in 406 Dirksen at 10 AM