Iran, defense bills to dominate House in May
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The House plans a national security-focused May with votes in the coming weeks on the annual defense authorization bill, ending bulk data collection and empowering Congress to review the nuclear deal with Iran.



House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a Friday memo to Republicans that votes on those measures are planned for the week of May 12.



The Senate is still debating the legislation allowing Congress to have a say in the international deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program. The upper chamber is currently mired in a fight over whether conservatives can offer an amendment forcing Iran to recognize Israeli statehood — which, if adopted, could scuttle the international negotiations. 

 
"It is essential that we do everything we can to prevent the President from providing across-the-board sanctions relief during the mandated Congressional review period, after which Congress would have the opportunity to offer a strong vote of disapproval in the event that a bad deal is reached," McCarthy wrote in the memo.
 
The 2016 defense authorization (NDAA), which just passed out of the House Armed Services Committee this week, will likely consume hours of floor time during the national security themed week. Members typically consider dozens of amendments to the annual defense authorization, which could include contentious votes on authorizing military force in the Middle East. 
 
Immigration could also mire debate on this year's NDAA. Members adopted amendments during the committee markup to encourage the Secretary of Defense to study how illegal immigrants granted work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could serve in the military.
 
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the most prominent immigration hardliners among House Republicans, promised a "major fight" on the provision now in the defense bill.
 
"It is the wrong policy on the wrong bill at the worst time," King said in a statement this week.
 
The third bill slated for the week of May 12, known as the USA Freedom Act, would effectively end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. It would also extend parts of the Patriot Act, which will expire at the end of this month, through 2019.
 
McCarthy also said the House plans to consider the 2016 appropriations bill to fund legislative branch operations. The chamber passed its first two spending bills this week to fund the Department of Veterans' Affairs and military construction projects, as well as the Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers.
 
Like the first two appropriations bills the House has already taken up, the legislative branch measure is among the easiest of the 12 annual measures to pass.
 
McCarthy gave no timeline for when legislation to give President Obama fast-track authority to sign off on trade deals might hit the floor. Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerPelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats On The Trail: How Trump lost the law and order debate MORE (R-Ohio) said this week that the White House needs to step up its lobbying efforts to convince more Democrats to support the measure — as GOP leaders don't have enough votes on their side to make up the deficit.
 
White House spokesman Josh Earnest fired back on Thursday and questioned by House Republican leaders can't persuade their own members on an issue traditionally supported by their the GOP.
 
And in a departure from recent memos to the House GOP, McCarthy said he is "committed" to returning the anti-abortion and education policy bills that were yanked from the floor in recent months due to the lack of votes to pass them. Other missives to Republicans since then offered no mention of the departed bills' fate. 
 
"Exact timing for consideration of these bills will be relayed as soon as possible," McCarthy said.
 
However, McCarthy still made no reference to third bill pulled in January to enhance border security.
 
McCarthy further noted potential action to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which runs out of money at the end of May. Lawmakers are likely to once again pass a short-term fix, rather than legislation that addresses the trust fund's shortfall  because the gas tax no longer provides enough revenue to cover expenses.
 
Lastly, the House expects to consider a litany of science-themed bills, such as a bill to direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve weather forecasting.
 
The House departed Friday for a weeklong recess and will return on Tuesday, May 12.
 
This story was updated at 4:12 p.m.