This Week in Congress

Before getting to this week’s schedule, here’s a look at what happened last Friday.

The House passed H.R. 4863, legislation reauthorizing the Export Finance Agency (previously known as the Export-Import Bank), by a vote of  235-184. Thirteen Republicans voted for it, while four Democrats voted against it.

You can see the vote here.

This week, the House is in session from Monday through Thursday.

The big vote of the week was a “continuing resolution” extending government funding through December 20. This sets up a showdown over the budget right before Christmas. Historically, these showdowns just before the holidays are disastrous for supporters of limited government, as legislators are anxious to go home for the holidays, so they will vote for whatever spending bill is placed before them—usually without even reading it.

As discussed here, the bill also extends the USA Freedom Act until March 15, 2020.

The bill also repealed a 2015 rescission of transportation funds, increasing spending by $76 billion dollars.

Since the bill text was unveiled on Monday, the House had to waive the rule requiring bills be  available online three days before being voted on. House leadership tried to avoid having a roll-call vote on the rule by getting unanimous consent to move to the bill. Thankfully, Representative Chip Roy (TX-21) objected, forcing a vote on the rule.

You can see the roll-call vote on the rule here.

The continuing resolution passed by a vote of 231-192. Ten Democrats voted against it and twelve Republicans voted for it. You can see that vote here.

The only other rule bill currently scheduled for consideration is H.R. 1309, which requires health care facilities to set up plans to protect workers from violence and gives the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) authority to enforce the rules.

The House also considered suspension bills, including

  1. H.R. 4634—Reauthorizes the terrorism insurance program that was supposed to be temporary when it was created in 2001 (after 9-11). For more details on the program see here. The bill passed by a vote of 385-22. You can see that vote here.

  2. H.R. 3702- Creates a new federal disaster relief program. This allows Housing and Urban Development to provide disaster relief to states and local governments. It would cost $7 million to implement and would duplicate the work of the Disaster Relief Fund, which currently has a balance of over $41 billion in the reserves. The bill passed by a vote of 290-118. You can see the vote here.

  3. H.R. 5084—Requires publicly-traded corporations to include information on the diversity of their board of directors and executive officers in their filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also establishes a diversity task force-study on how to best increase diversity of corporate boards and management. It passed by a vote of 281-135. You can see that vote here.

  4. H.R. 737—Makes it a federal crime to steal or possess shark fins.

  5. H.R. 825—Extends the North American Wetlands Conversion program and authorizes spending $300 million on the program over four years

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