EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH ACTIVITY
Budget and Debt Ceiling
With a government shutdown imminent, the Senate passed its modified version of the continuing resolution (CR) on Friday, September 27. The Senate version changed the expiration date from December 15 to November 15 and removed the House Republican language that defunded the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill returned to the House over the weekend, where Republicans further amended the CR. The House changed the expiration date back to December 15 and added a provision to delay implementation of the ACA by a year, returning the bill to the Senate. President Barack Obama said he will veto the latest House CR. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate will reject the bill when it convenes at 2:00 pm today. Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 expires at midnight.
Early Sunday morning, September 29, the House also approved H.R. 2848, the Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act for FY 2014; and H.R. 3210, a bill to continue appropriations for military pay in the event of a government shutdown.
Congress will next have to address the debt ceiling. Last week, Secretary of the Treasury (Treasury) Jacob Lew informed Congress that measures to avoid breaching the debt ceiling will be exhausted by October 17. The Congressional Budget Office reported that Treasury will likely use up its cash balance October 22-31.
On Thursday, September 26, the five permanent members of the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council finalized a resolution that stipulates the Syrian government must abide by the terms or the Security Council will take measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. Such measures could include economic sanctions or military action. The 15-member Security Council approved the legally-binding resolution the next day.
National Security Agency
Last week, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced she will introduce legislation to limit the scope of the National Security Agency (NSA) phone records program, by codifying the standard of “reasonable, articulable suspicion” to query the records, reducing the time records are retained, and requiring expanded reporting to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, among other revisions. The Senate Intelligence Committee could mark up the bill this week.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) are also working on a bill. Chairman Rogers said the bill will “look as close to the federal criminal justice system as we can and still protect sources and methods.”
International Arms Trade Treaty
At the U.N. last week, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. The U.S. Senate has not ratified the treaty and it is not expected to do so. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) warned in a letter to Secretary Kerry the treaty will be rejected.
Navy Yard Tragedy
On September 24, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that shooter Aaron Alexis “held a delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves.” This Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the tragedy and examine government clearances and background checks.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, October 1: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “The Navy Yard Tragedy: Examining Government Clearances and Background Checks.”
- Wednesday, October 2: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness will hold a hearing on “Resetting the Force for the Future: Risks of Sequestration.”
- Thursday, October 3: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Threats to the Homeland.”