Federal Relations

January 6, 2015

Welcome 114th Congress! Oh, and it’s Snowing!

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Photo of White House covered in snow earlier this morning, taken by Peter Alexander of NBC.

The 114th Congress convenes today under a blanket of snow in Washington, DC. While the snow is expected to taper off by midday, disagreements over budget priorities that have stymied Congress in recent years won’t go away so soon and are likely to lead to the first vetoes of appropriations bills in nearly a decade. This is largely due to the change in leadership as Republicans regain control of both the House and Senate for the first time in eight years. But today they will work through the usual ceremonial chores of swearing in new members while trying to unify support for GOP leadership and their legislative agenda.

As they do at the beginning of each Congress, House lawmakers will vote today on procedural parameters for the next two years, adopting a rules package Republicans are using to advance their desires for tax scoring. House GOP leaders have proposed a controversial “dynamic scoring” mandate that would require congressional budget analyst to account for overall economic impacts of tax or spending changes when considering major legislation. This will have a huge impact on any tax reform legislation proposed this Congress, as well as any bill that requires new funding.

Quickly after the controversial rules vote, the House will consider legislation that would exempt veterans from the employee quota used to determine which companies are required to provide health care to their workers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This bill is intended to both erode part of the 2010 health care law and open jobs for veterans. The legislation is expected to receive wildly bipartisan support, as it did last spring when it passed the House 406-1 before floundering in the Senate.

It is shaping up to be a busy and controversial session of Congress. With both chambers under Republican control, we are likely to see many more bills move through the legislative process than in previous years. However, much of that legislation will be ripe for a veto by the President.