This week: Flint aid, immigration top agenda

A package to provide assistance to the city of Flint, Mich., after residents suffered from water contamination and the fate of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will be the focus of this week in Congress.

Senators are expressing hope that they'll be able to revive a long-stalled energy bill and deal on aid to Flint, Mich., this week. 

But hurdles remain in bringing the bills back onto the Senate floor. Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonMore automakers admit to equipping new cars with defective airbags GOP warming up to Cuba travel How the new aviation law will affect your travel MORE (D-Fla.) put a hold on the package over concerns about a GOP-push for an amendment to expand an offshore drilling revenue-sharing program.

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“They’re trying to start the process of drilling off of Florida,” Nelson told reporters late last week. “For 40 years, I’ve fought to keep rigs off of the state of Florida and I will not let that happen here to satisfy Sen. [Bill] Cassidy.” 

Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, is offering the amendment.

Unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellProgressive group changes tone on Kaine Trump hits Kaine on TPP: He supports a 'job killer' Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) files cloture on the two bills, supporters will need unanimous consent to bring the measures up on the Senate floor. 

Nelson, who is supportive of the energy bill, is one of two senators who have a hold.

Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeObama signs opioid bill Thiel said to explain support for Trump in convention speech Convention erupts at Cruz snub MORE (R-Utah) is also blocking the Flint aid deal, though Sens. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowDems to GOP: Admit Trump is 'unfit' to be president Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency GMO labeling bill good for both environment and the poor MORE (D-Mich.) and Gary Peters (D-Mitch.) expressed optimism that they would quickly be able to find an agreement. 

Immigration

The House will take a step toward inserting itself in the debate over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration before the Supreme Court.

Lawmakers are expected to vote either Wednesday or Thursday on a resolution authorizing the Speaker to file an amicus brief on behalf of the full House in the case before the Supreme Court regarding the legality of President Obama’s 2014 actions to shield up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Democrats filed their own brief last week in support of the executive actions, arguing that any brief that House Republicans submit wouldn’t speak for them.

Twenty-six states are challenging the executive actions, which have been frozen for more than a year after a federal judge put them on hold.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the case on April 18 and issue a ruling by the end of June.

However, the Supreme Court is operating with only eight justices after Antonin Scalia died in February. It’s possible the Supreme Court wouldn’t be able to break a tie along party lines, which would result in deferring to the lower court’s decision or another round after Scalia’s replacement is confirmed. 

Budget

House Republicans are still trying to find a way forward on passing a budget resolution this year. 

The Senate Budget Committee announced last week that it will postpone consideration of a budget amid the divisions in the House. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) maintained that the upper chamber will adhere to the spending limits outlined in last year’s budget deal despite resistance from House conservatives.

GOP members of the House Budget Committee are expected to meet Monday evening to discuss their options. If they can reach an agreement, the panel could consider a budget resolution as soon as Wednesday to send it to the House floor for a vote next week.

In the meantime, the House Ways and Means Committee plans to mark up a “budget savings” package this week that it says will reduce the deficit by $16 billion in two years by targeting overpayments in government programs like the healthcare law.

Education secretary

The Senate will take up President Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Education. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a vote for Monday evening on John King's nomination to be Education secretary. 

King has been the department's acting secretary since Arne DuncanArne DuncanIn search of the surest Common Core exit route The opt-out movement and the coddling epidemic Senate approves Obama education chief MORE stepped down last year. 

The White House initially indicated it wouldn't formally nominate King to avoid an election-year fight, but Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Overnight Healthcare: Mysterious new Zika case | Mental health bill in doubt | Teletraining to fight opioids Hopes dim for mental health deal MORE (R-Tenn.)—who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee—said he promised to give the president's nominee a "fair" hearing. 

The HELP Committee approved King in a 16-6 vote late week, with Alexander voting in favor of his nomination. But he still faces opposition from lawmakers in both parties this week.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who had a hold on his nomination, will likely vote against Obama's pick during Monday's vote, according to his office. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren to go on attack for Clinton Sanders wanted Elizabeth Warren as Clinton's VP Warren hammers Trump at Latino event MORE (D-Mass.) suggested she would vote against him unless she received "more direct answers" on how he would bolster protections for students who borrow money to pay for college. 

GMOs 

The Senate could also wade into a fight over legislation to block states from issuing their own mandatory labeling laws on genetically modified foods (GMOs). 

Senators could take up the legislation this week, after it passed earlier this month out of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. 

The legislation—from Sen. Pat RobertsPat RobertsMeet the rising GOP star who already enrages the left Senators ask IRS to issue guidance to help startups GOP makes new push on wildfire bills MORE (R-Kansas)—would also establish a voluntary federal standard. 

Senate Democrats also introduced their own rival bill earlier this month that would require manufacturers to disclose if a product includes GMOs.

Meanwhile, the House passed its own bill last year despite fierce pushback from consumer groups and Democrats. 

No vote or floor time for Roberts' legislation has been scheduled, but Republicans will need the support of at least six Democrats to get it passed. 

- Sarah Ferris contributed.

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