Congressional agenda this week: Avoiding a shutdown, searching for DACA fix

Back after a long holiday weekend, lawmakers must reach an agreement on a budget plan before the Friday deadline when...

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 6:27 AM
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 6:27 AM

Back after a long holiday weekend, lawmakers must reach an agreement on a budget plan before the Friday deadline when government funding runs out, but demands from each side of the aisle are impeding progress on negotiations.

For a spending deal, Republicans want to secure a long-term increase in Pentagon funding, while Democrats feel pressure not to agree to such a plan unless it ensures protections for recipients of the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Two former Trump officials are slated to speak with congressional Russia investigators

The House Administration Committee will unveil its sexual harassment legislation

GOP leaders don't anticipate finalizing any deal in time for the deadline and are instead proposing a stopgap-funding bill as the talks continue to avoid a shutdown on Friday. It's unclear if they have the votes to pass such a bill.

Here's what's on the agenda this week on the Hill:

DACA negotiations

There is still no deal on the DACA program -- which is set to expire in March -- after a bipartisan group of six lawmakers met at the White House last week to present their plan. Republicans considered the proposal a non-starter from the beginning, and President Donald Trump, who had previously said he would sign whatever Congress put on his desk, rejected the plan.

The President's "shithole countries" remark on Thursday, which was in reference to one of his key "four pillars" that must be in any final deal, makes DACA negotiations increasingly difficult. These pillars include protection for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, changing rules to family-based immigration laws -- or "chain migration," a decision on a border security element and reforming the diversity lottery program.

Trump's vulgar comments have led the Congressional Black Caucus to work on a censure resolution that would condemn the President's remarks in the Oval Office last week, according to CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond and the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, Rep. Jerry Nadler.

While a spokesperson for the White House did not deny the vulgar comment was made, Trump pushed back in a tweet Friday, saying, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!"

And on Sunday night, Trump told reporters "I am not a racist," while appearing in West Palm Beach, Florida, alongside House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.

Russia

Congress' Russia investigations are marching on as two former Trump officials are expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week despite Republican pressure to wind down their probes.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is likely to appear before the panel as early as Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the matter. The timing of the interview is not related to comments attributed to him in an explosive new book about the White House -- Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" -- where the author claims Bannon called the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer "treasonous." Members of the House Intelligence Committee have said that these alleged comments would help inform their questioning.

RELATED: Bannon expresses regret over response to bombshell book

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is also expected to appear before the committee this week, according to the sources. He denied any wrongdoing in a radio interview Monday and stressed that he will be testifying voluntarily.

Lewandowski told WABC Radio Host Rita Cosby, "I'm not concerned at all because I have nothing to hide. ... I didn't collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election."

Sexual harassment

The House Administration Committee will unveil its sexual harassment legislation this week with the hopes of getting it to a vote in the House this month. The legislation would improve components of the Congressional Accountability Act, a law that established the system critics call outdated that still governs the handling of sexual harassment, discrimination and other workplace-related claims on Capitol Hill.

RELATED: Sexual harassment settlement money back in the spotlight on Capitol Hill

The Senate, which has been working closely with the House on this law, also has a plan in the works.

Earmarks

House Republicans kick off hearings on re-instituting earmarks this week after banning them when they took control of the House in 2011.

Trump suggested last week that earmarks could "get this country really rolling again," but lawmakers are split on whether they reinforce Washington's "swamp" culture or if they are part of Congress' constitutional powers as the branch with the power of the purse.

The House Rules Committee will hold a hearing with lawmakers testifying on both sides of the issue Wednesday and a session with outside experts on Thursday.

Abortion

This week brings tens of thousands of anti-abortion rights activists to Washington for the "March for Life" on the National Mall.

The House is scheduled to vote on legislation called the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act," which requires that if a baby is born through a failed abortion procedure, it must receive the same medical care as a child born any other way.

In case you missed it this weekend

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina stepped down from the House Ethics Committee last week, citing a "challenging workload."

Gowdy, who was named chairman of the House Oversight Committee in June, indicated in his resignation letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that he knew he would not be able to maintain all his committee assignments after his Chairmanship appointment.

In addition to Ethics, Gowdy will continue to serve on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Miscellaneous

The House of Representatives voted last week to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, despite the President's tweeted back-and-forth on Section 702. The Senate will resume consideration of the legislation when it is back in session Tuesday afternoon.

RELATED: What is Section 702 of FISA, anyway?

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct an oversight hearing to examine the Department of Homeland Security; DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will testify.

On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will consider the nominations of Michael K. Atkinson to be Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, and Jason Klitenic to be general counsel, both of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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