Federal Relations

Congress: Issues to Watch this Week

The House is back in session this week after a weeklong recess period. They will be in session for two weeks before taking another break during the first week in June. The Senate is in this week, but will recess during the week of Memorial Day.

Appropriations:  Appropriators appear to be adhering to their plans to move annual spending bills earlier than normal this year. Several of those measures are advancing this week – in both chambers. On Tuesday in the Senate, subcommittees will consider their Military Construction-VA and Agriculture spending bills with the hopes of moving them to full committee by the end of the week. Both bills have a history of bipartisan support and will be among the first the Senate considers on the floor in late June or early July. Meanwhile, the House will advance their Commerce-Justice-Science bill (HR 4660) for possible floor action by next week. House appropriators also plan to move two domestic spending bills this week: Agriculture and Transportation-HUD.

Sexual Assault Prevention:  Today Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) will hold her first of three roundtable discussions about sexual assaults on college campuses. The hearing will focus on federal reporting laws, including the Clery Act, which requires schools to report on a broad array of crimes that occur on and near campuses, and what is known as the SaVE Act, language included in last year’s Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that requires new training, including bystander intervention, for incoming students and new university employees, along with new reporting on stalking and domestic violence.

McCaskill is teaming up with Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) on the effort to combat sexual assault on college campuses, similar to their successful advocacy for a bill to overhaul the way the military deals with sexual assaults. Subsequent roundtables will focus on Title IX protections, and the campus administrative process and criminal justice system.

FIRST Act:  On Wednesday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will mark up the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2014 (HR 4186), which authorizes spending levels and specifies policy objectives in allocating resources for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Veterans in Higher Education:  On Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee holds a full committee hearing to learn about access and supports for veterans in higher education.