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MAY 9, 2016 UPDATE

[New information bolded and italicized]

The Senate and House return to session this week. Pending in the Senate is the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy & Water appropriations bill. The bill got hung up in late April when the Senate twice failed to invoke cloture on the bill because of Democratic objections to the Cotton (R-AR) amendment to ban the U.S. purchase of heavy water from Iran. The Senate is expected to take a third cloture vote today. The Senate Armed Services Committee begins markup this week of the annual defense authorization bill. The full House is expected to take up the same bill the week of May 16. Lastly, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee is scheduled to take up the fiscal defense appropriations bill this week.

KEY FISCAL YEAR 2017 NATIONAL SECURITY BILLS

FISCAL YEAR 2017 ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Both Energy & Water bills advanced from their respective chambers’ Appropriations Committees. The bill contains funding for, among other things, nuclear warheads, non-proliferation funding and the Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) facility in South Carolina.

Before the recess, full Senate consideration bogged down because of Democratic objections to a Cotton (R-AR) amendment to bar the U.S. purchase of heavy water from Iran. The amendment was designed to undermine the spirit of the Iran nuclear agreement. Two cloture motions won 50 and 52 votes, short of the 60 votes needed to shut off debate. The bill returns to the Senate floor when the Senate resumes business, and a third cloture vote is expected May 9.

The House is likely to take up floor debate on the bill later this month.

FISCAL YEAR 2017 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL

On February 9, the Executive Branch submitted its Fiscal Year 2017 request. The total budget for national defense comes to $609.8, with $523.9 billions for the Defense Department base budget, $58.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, $19.3 billion for Department of Energy nuclear work and $7.8 billion for defense related spending. Nuclear weapons funding is up and nuclear non-proliferation funding is down. Click here for a comprehensive analysis of the budget.

The House Armed Services Committee completed markup of the Fiscal Year 2017 defense authorization bill early in the morning of April 28, approving the bill by a 60-2 vote.  The $610 billion bill has drawn ire from the Pentagon, White House, and Senate by funding operations overseas for only seven months, instead moving $18 billion to weaponry and other programs that the Pentagon did not request. Noteworthy amendments: a Rep. Aguilar (D-Calif.) amendment  requiring the Congressional Budget Office to provide a 30-year cost estimate for the nuclear arsenal was rejected 26-36, a Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D – Calif.) amendment adding $20 million to research and development for nuclear nonproliferation programs was adopted by voice vote, and an amendment offered by Rep. Hunter (R-Calif.) requiring women to register for the draft was approved by a 32-30 vote despite Hunter’s own opposition to the amendment.

The bill is scheduled for the House floor the week of May 16. 

The Senate Armed Services Subcommittees markups are scheduled to begin May 9, with full committee markup slated to begin on May 11.

FISCAL YEARS 2016 AND 2017 STATE DEPARTMENT AUTHORIZATION BILL

On April 28, in something of a surprise and for the first time since 2002, the Senate approved the Fiscal Year 2016 State Department authorization bill the day it was reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee. The measure would reauthorize a number of State Department activities and update embassy security policies. The Foreign Relations Committee also hopes to advance the Fiscal Year 2017 authorization bill later this year.

FISCAL YEAR 2017 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

The House Defense Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark-up its annual bill on May 11, with full committee markup the week of May 16.The Senate Defense Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark-up its annual bill in May.

FISCAL YEAR 2017 BUDGET RESOLUTION

On March 16, the House Budget Committee voted to report out a fiscal 2017 budget resolution 20-16, with two Republicans, Reps. Dave Brat (VA) and Marlin Stutzman (IN), and all 14 Democrats voting no. The committee used $74 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) war account to increase overall defense spending above the President Obama’s budget request and sidestep budget resolution caps. The committee approved $574 billion for base Pentagon operations, including $23 billion in the OCO. A full House vote has been put off until the next recess that ends April 12.

The budget resolutions in both the Senate and House may be dead, with appropriations committees authorized to prepare their bills in the absence of this resolution.

IRAN

It took several tries, but the House finally passed H.R. 3662, a bill to place additional sanctions on Iran with the intent of disrupting the Iran nuclear agreement. The vote was 246 – 181 in favor, with 243 Republicans unanimously for the measure (3 absentees) and three Democrats voting yes. The bill is unlikely to be passed by the Senate, and even if it did, the President has his veto pen waiting.

NORTH KOREA

On February 11, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to expand and tighten enforcement of sanctions on North Korea. The vote was 96 -0. This measure, along with potential new United Nations sanctions, are designed to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The House in turn approved the Senate measure 408 – 2.

FISCAL YEAR 2017 STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS APPROPRIATIONS BILL

No scheduled markups yet.

U.S. TROOPS IN AND AROUND IRAQ AND SYRIA: AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE

There has been almost no movement toward Senate or House consideration of an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) in and around Iraq and Syria.

CONGRESSIONAL RECESS SCHEDULE IN 2016

Friday, April 29 – Monday, May 9: House and Senate recess
Friday, May 27 – Monday June 6: House and Senate recess
Friday, June 24 – Tuesday, July 5: House recess
Thursday, June 30 – Wednesday, July 6: Senate recess
Friday, July 15 – Tuesday, September 6: House and Senate summer recess
All of August: Senate and House summer recess
Friday, September 30 – Monday, November 14: House recess
All of October: House recess
Friday, October 7 – Monday, November 14: Senate recess
Thursday, November 17 – Monday, November 28: House and Senate recess
Friday, December 16: Target congressional sine die adjournment
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