WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jan 2-6, 2017)
Lawmakers return on Tuesday for what promises to be a very busy 115th Congress, which will run from 2017-2018.
Since the House never officially adjourned “sine die” in 2016, the first order of business on January 3rd will be to gavel in and immediately adjourn the 114th Congress. It will then immediately gavel in the new 115th Congress, elect its Speaker, and administer the oath of office. See What Happens on the First Day of the New Congress?
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” — U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3
The Rules of the New Congress
The first vote in the House is always on adopting the rules for the new Congress, traditionally bill number “H.R. 5.” Read the bill text for the Rules of the 115th Congress and the Section-by-section summary.
One notable change to the House rules this year is the potential for members to be charged fines for streaming video from the House Floor, as Democrats did during their “sit-in” calling for a vote on gun violence-related bills last year. Read more from Bloomberg.
First votes in the House
After adopting new rules and sending a message to the president that the House is ready to do business, it will take its first votes. (These do not yet have bill numbers because the numbers cannot be assigned until after the new Congress convenes.)
Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ryan Costello
Biological Implant Tracking and Veteran Safety Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Phil Roe
Reading of the Constitution
On Wednesday, House members will take part in the traditional reading of the Constitution.
We could all use a refresher! Give it another read.
Counting Electoral Votes
On Friday, the House and Senate come together in a joint session to count the electoral votes for the president and vice president. Vice President Joe Biden, as President of the Senate, will be the presiding officer. Two “tellers” will open, present and record votes from the states in alphabetical order. The President of the Senate will then announce the results.
Additional votes in the House this week
Several bills are on the House calendar this week, though the language and bill numbers are not available until the new Congress begins. Below is some information about previous versions of the bills on the docket.
H.J. Res ___ – Approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield
Sponsor: Rep. Phil Roe
H.R. ___ – Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Walberg
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would require the federal government to create a central database for financial data and performance metrics for every federal program above $1 million, requiring every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs.
H.R.____ – Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. John Duncan
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would require an organization that raises funds for a Presidential library to disclose sources and amounts over $200 or more in a calendar quarter while the President is in office, as well as during the period before the federal government takes possession of the library or the President leaves office, whichever is later.
H.R. ___- Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. William Clay
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would require agency subcommittees to meet publicly and provide advance notice of their sessions, post meeting minutes and other records online and clarify ethics rules.
H.R. ___ – GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Buddy Carter
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill clarifies that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is permitted to access to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) database in its work to audit federal programs. The NDNH was created by Congress in 1996 primarily to assist state-level agencies enforce child support laws. Several other federal and state agencies have been given access to the database, including: Unemployment Insurance, SNAP, EITC, and student loans.
H.R. ____ – Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency tasked with protecting federal employees, former employees, and applicants for employment from prohibited personnel practices which include but are not limited to discrimination, nepotism, and whistleblower retaliation. It would also clarify penalties for violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits most Executive branch employees from engaging in certain forms of political activity.
H.R. ___ – Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Darrell Issa
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would make it easier for a new Congress to disapprove multiple rules issued in the final months of an outgoing President’s administration. Currently, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn a single final rule through a joint resolution of disapproval. The bill would amend the CRA to allow a disapproval resolution to contain more than one rule.
H.R. ___ – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Doug Collins
If like a previous bill with the same name, the bill would require Congress to vote to approve any major rule before it can take effect. The bill provides for an expedited procedure for a resolution of approval to be considered in each chamber.
- Possible Consideration of a Resolution Relating to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (Israel)