Congress is pressing ahead with its work agenda for the week despite the threat of massive flooding in Washington from Hurricane Florence. With the end of fiscal year 2019 looming, lawmakers don’t have much time to waste. Here are the big legislative items awaiting action when Congress returns Sept. 12:
- IRS Nominee. The Senate is expected to confirm Charles Rettig to be the IRS commissioner.
- Tax Reform 2.0 Markup. House Ways and Means Committee will mark up and vote on a trio of bills under Tax Reform 2.0 on Sept. 13. According to an estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the package of tax cuts would cost $657 billion.
- FY 2019 Appropriations. House and Senate negotiators for the second and third “minibus” spending packages (H.R. 6147 and H.R. 6157) are scheduled to meet on Sept. 13 to iron out differences between their bills. As a refresher, the Senate version of H.R. 6147 covers funding for Financial Services, Interior-EPA, Transportation-HUD, and Agriculture; H.R. 6157 covers funding for Defense and Labor-HHS-Education. The House chamber is also expected to vote on the conference report for first minibus package (H.R. 5895), which covers Energy-Water, Milcon-VA, and Legislative spending. GOP leaders are trying to get as many of these spending bills enacted before Sept. 30. But even if successful, Congress will still have to rely on a continuing resolution or CR to avert a government shutdown. The big question is how long the CR would run. The GOP appears split on the duration of the CR – some prefer to tackle the outstanding spending issues once and for all in December, while others prefer to kick the can down the road to January 2019.
- Water Infrastructure Bill. The House and Senate reached a deal on a water infrastructure bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, on Sept. 10. The legislation would authorize various projects to improve and modernize the country’s water infrastructure. The House is expected to vote on the bill before the end of the week.
- Gag Clauses. The Senate will hold a vote on the Patients Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554) – a bill that would prohibit insurers and prescription benefit managers from using gag clauses that restrict a pharmacy’s ability to proactively inform insurance plan members the difference in drug costs when paying out-of-pocket through an insurance plan versus paying for the drug without using any insurance coverage.
- Farm Bill. Negotiators are talking this week, but an extension is likely. Reauthorization is due Sept. 30.