Congress Returns Amid Intensified Focus on Terror Threats After Paris Attacks
As lawmakers mull the aftermath of the Paris attacks, they’ll keep working on a highway bill and a handful of other measures.
Friday’s terror attacks in Paris will weigh heavily on the minds of lawmakers as Congress returns to Washington to hold a quick one-week session before another break for Thanksgiving.
On Wednesday, the House committees on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs will hold a joint hearing on “The Rise of Radicalism: Growing Terrorist Sanctuaries and the Threat to the U.S. Homeland”—a subject of even greater importance in the wake of Paris. Beyond that, it’s unclear what, if anything, Congress may do to directly address the attacks and their aftermath. On Thursday, a House Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Syrian refugee crisis and its implications for U.S. security.
On the floor, meanwhile, the House is expected to take up a handful of financial services bills. And both chambers may have to pass another short-term highway bill if they are unable to quickly agree on a six-year bill to fund the country’s infrastructure projects.
Here’s what else is on tap:
Republicans on Capitol Hill are taking aim at White House efforts to help craft an international accord on global warming, attacks that come ahead of high-stakes United Nations climate change talks in Paris that—despite heightened security concerns after Friday’s terror attacks— are still scheduled to begin in two weeks.
On Wednesday morning the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee—which is led by James Inhofe, who calls global warming a “hoax”—will hold a hearing on the upcoming U.N. summit. The House Science Committee will hold its own hearing that afternoon titled “The Administration’s Empty Promises for the International Climate Treaty.”
The hearings are part of a wider GOP assault on President Obama’s second-term climate-change agenda. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote “soon” on resolutions to overturn EPA’s carbon emissions rules for power plants, but he did not offer a specific timeline.
The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday morning, examining the agenda of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Chairwoman Mary Jo White will testify. On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on lessons from other countries’ welfare reform experiences.
Reconciliation is sure to be a buzzword around Capitol Hill this week, after, according to the New York Times, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that some elements of the House-passed bill can’t be expedited, and Democrats say that the upper chamber would need 60 votes to repeal both the individual and employer mandates. But Republicans say that’s not exactly the case.
Additionally, the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to serve as the Food and Drug Administration’s commissioner is underway with a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing Tuesday. Later that day, the Senate Finance Committee will have a hearing titled “Physician Owned Distributors: Are They Harmful to Patients and Payers?”
Also on Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hear from FDA and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about their roles in the regulation of diagnostic tests. And as the weather chills—and flu season begins—the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will examine on Thursday how agencies have prepared for the influenza after last year’s vaccine wasn’t an exact match for a common flu strain, causing many to fall ill.
All five members of the Federal Communications Commission will appear before the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee on Tuesday morning for an oversight hearing. Republicans have been furious with the FCC since it enacted expansive net neutrality regulations earlier this year that they claim will stifle investment in the broadband industry. The agency is also preparing for a complex auction of TV airwaves to cellular carriers next year and is examining its regulations of the TV industry.
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a mark-up of nine bills on Wednesday morning, including one that would encourage federal agencies to sell their airwaves to the private sector, and another that would bar companies from using contracts to prevent their customers from criticizing them.
The House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Thursday morning on the potential economic impact of commercial drones. Although other congressional panels have examined the Federal Aviation Administration’s efforts to authorize and regulate commercial drones, the trade subcommittee has jurisdiction over privacy and consumer safety issues.
With the Paris attacks occupying the attention of leaders around the world, President Obama is hopping from summit to summit this week as he spends the week overseas. On Monday, he starts the day in Antalya, Turkey, wrapping up the G-20 summit he began on Sunday. Then it’s off to Manila in the Philippines, where he will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, he goes to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for two summits – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and then the East Asia Summit, two organizations that include 17 countries important to Obama’s vaunted “pivot to Asia.”
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