Outlook: Union Rules, Budget Endgame, and the Slow March to Fast-Track

While the House enjoys recess, the Senate will focus on Iran and a few other items.

The scaffolded US Capitol is seen at sunset on October 28, 2014 in Washington, DC with a compass marker in the walkway looking West. The US Capitol dome will undergo its first comprehensive repairs in more than half a century this autumn, installing a donut-shaped canopy to protect visitors to the historic structure. The two-year, USD 60 million project is aimed at repairing nearly 1,300 cracks that have emerged in the nine-million-pound (4.1-million-kilogram) cast iron dome, according to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) office. Construction on the dome began in 1855. Work symbolically continued through the US Civil War and the structure was eventually completed in 1866.
National Journal
May 3, 2015, 5:14 p.m.

While the Ir­an de­bate will con­tin­ue to make the biggest waves, the Sen­ate will kick off the week on Monday with a vote to over­ride a pres­id­en­tial veto of a law con­cern­ing uni­on elec­tions. Con­gress passed the law dis­ap­prov­ing of a Na­tion­al Labor Re­la­tions Board rule change short­en­ing the length of uni­on elec­tions in March on a 53-47 vote. Giv­en that 67 votes will be needed to over­ride, the Monday even­ing vote is ex­pec­ted to fail.

Also pos­sible this week are votes in the Sen­ate on the con­fer­ence budget res­ol­u­tion, which passed the House last week, and Trade Pro­mo­tion Au­thor­ity. With Ir­an dom­in­at­ing the cal­en­dar, the budget res­ol­u­tion could be brought up as a priv­ileged mo­tion some­time this week. But if the ire of some Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers over the Ir­an bill con­tin­ues to slow the meas­ure, con­sid­er­a­tion of TPA could be pushed in­to next week.


The House is in ap­par­ent agree­ment over a Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency re­form pack­age that eas­ily cleared the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee last week and ap­pears to have Speak­er John Boehner’s bless­ings. But while the lower cham­ber will vote on the USA Free­dom Act next week after it re­turns from re­cess, ques­tions re­main over wheth­er the Sen­ate has any ap­pet­ite for rein­ing in the spy agency’s do­mest­ic-phone-re­cords drag­net. With time run­ning out be­fore the June 1 sun­set of a key Pat­ri­ot Act sur­veil­lance pro­vi­sion, Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley and mem­bers of the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee need to act soon if they want to avoid a stan­doff with their House col­leagues, many of whom say Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell’s push for a clean reau­thor­iz­a­tion of the Pat­ri­ot Act has no chance in their cham­ber.

(RE­LATED: Pres­id­ent Bernie Sanders Would Dis­mantle NSA Spy­ing)

The Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee will also hold a hear­ing on the newly in­tro­duced Pat­ent Act, which would re­form sev­er­al as­pects of the pat­ent-lit­ig­a­tion land­scape in a bid to re­duce so-called pat­ent trolling. Chair­man Grass­ley has said he hopes a markup of the bill can take place be­fore the Me­mori­al Day re­cess.


Ahead of wild­fire sea­son, the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing Tues­day to ex­am­ine the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s role in fight­ing wild­fires and po­ten­tial im­prove­ments to fire op­er­a­tions.

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans will put the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency’s reg­u­la­tions to curb car­bon pol­lu­tion from power plants un­der the mi­cro­scope on Tues­day dur­ing a hear­ing of the En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works Clean Air and Nuc­le­ar Safety Sub­com­mit­tee. West Vir­gin­ia At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Patrick Mor­ri­sey and Ok­lahoma At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Scott Pruitt will testi­fy at the hear­ing, which will fo­cus on the leg­al im­plic­a­tions of the rule.

(RE­LATED: This Isn’t Your Nor­mal Bill to Gut the EPA)


The Sen­ate will vote on the budget agree­ment next week, which in­cludes a re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act and leaves the use of re­con­cili­ation in the hands of the com­mit­tees with jur­is­dic­tion over Obama­care.

The Sen­ate Heath, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on the prom­ise of pre­ci­sion medi­cine. Out­side of Con­gress, the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions will hold a dis­cus­sion on the fu­ture of the Af­ford­able Care Act and its im­plic­a­tions for the U.S.’s com­pet­it­ive­ness.


Pres­id­ent Obama starts his week in New York City Monday, and wraps it up with a vis­it to his 50th and fi­nal state on Fri­day.

The pres­id­ent goes to Leh­man Col­lege in the Bronx Monday to an­nounce the cre­ation of the My Broth­er’s Keep­er Al­li­ance, a non­profit de­signed to pro­mote Obama’s ini­ti­at­ive to ment­or young minor­ity men. Monday af­ter­noon, he will tape an ap­pear­ance on The Late Show With Dav­id Let­ter­man. He’ll wrap up his New York vis­it with fun­draisers for the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee.

(RE­LATED: Con­gress to Obama: 529s Are Here to Stay)

Obama hosts a Cinco de Mayo re­cep­tion at the White House on Tues­day even­ing, and on Thursday morn­ing will hon­or the Air Force Academy’s foot­ball team at the White House for win­ning the Com­mand­er-in-Chief’s Trophy, presen­ted to the best team among the ser­vice academies. He then flies to Port­land, Ore., for a DNC fun­draiser there.

On Fri­day morn­ing, Obama will vis­it Nike headquar­ters out­side Port­land as part of his push for le­gis­la­tion that would give him fast-track au­thor­ity to ne­go­ti­ate trade deals. The pres­id­ent hopes get­ting that bill through Con­gress will make it easi­er to wrap up the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship trade agree­ment among a dozen Pa­cific Rim coun­tries.

Obama ends his week with a com­mence­ment ad­dress at Lake Area Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute in Wa­ter­town, S.D. Obama has pushed the idea of mak­ing com­munity col­leges tu­ition-free for stu­dents all over the coun­try, and the Wa­ter­town school was chosen be­cause it has among the na­tion’s highest com­munity col­lege gradu­ation rates in the na­tion, the White House says.

With his travel to South Dakota, Obama will have vis­ited all 50 states as pres­id­ent.

Caitlin Owens, Dustin Volz and Clare Foran contributed to this article.
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