This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are regrouping after conservatives tanked the farm bill and raised new questions about House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign MORE's (R-Wis.) ability to manage his caucus.

They’re bracing for a busy week after the dramatic turn of events, which saw conservatives revolting over the farm bill and moderates bucking leadership by backing a discharge petition on immigration.

When, or if, the farm bill is revived will likely depend on if Ryan and his leadership team are able to meet the demands from the House Freedom Caucus, who broke with leadership after they didn't get a vote on a conservative immigration bill spearheaded by Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify Goodlatte: Administration undercut law, Congress by setting refugee cap Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence MORE (R-Va.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHillicon Valley: Manafort to cooperate with Mueller probe | North Korea blasts US over cyber complaint | Lawmakers grill Google over China censorship | Bezos to reveal HQ2 location by year's end Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship MORE (R-Texas) before the farm bill was taken up.

ADVERTISEMENT
The two issues will likely dominate the caucus's weekly closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The failure of the farm bill marked a setback for GOP leadership as well as for the Trump administration; the White House had publicly urged Republicans to back the legislation because of new work requirements for food stamps.

The legislative fiasco brought out the knives against Ryan, who is retiring but insisted he will retain his position as Speaker until the end of the year.

“It’s difficult to close deals when you are a Speaker who’s announced you are leaving in a few months. ... A lot of people are not going to care what you have to say,” a senior GOP source told The Hill late last week.

The House’s farm bill is largely a symbolic win for Republicans and Trump because it’s considered dead on arrival in the Senate, where a bill will need 60 votes including the support of Democrats. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPat Robertson asks followers to help cast 'shield of protection' ahead of hurricane Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act MORE (R-Kan.) is working on his own bill with Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCongress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Trump attacks Dems on farm bill Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (D-Mich.).

The House bill became inextricably linked with immigration after the Freedom Caucus demanded a vote on the conservative measure as moderates neared the 218 signatures needed to force a vote on a separate immigration plan that falls well short of the proposal pushed for by the White House.

Despite leadership offering the group of conservative hard-liners a vote on the immigration measure in June, the members refused to back the legislation.

“It was not fully clear,” Meadows said of the offer from leadership.

Immigration talks are expected to continue as both moderates and conservatives continue to push for action on the floor.

Veterans Affairs

The Senate is poised to take up a House-passed Department of Veterans Affairs reform bill.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins MORE (R-Ky.) teed up the legislation, with an initial vote possible as early as Tuesday.

The sweeping, $52 billion reform bill would overhaul medical care options for veterans, including giving them more access to private doctors and hospitals. Critics argue it goes too far toward privatizing veterans’ health care.

It also includes funding to extend the VA’s choice program — otherwise scheduled to run out of money at the end of the month — for another year.

Senate action comes as Trump gave Congress until the Memorial Day recess to pass the legislation.

“The President encourages members of the Senate to put the needs of our nation’s veterans over partisan politics, and pass this necessary legislation before Memorial Day to ensure that our Nation’s bravest do not have to wait in never-ending lines to receive the care they rightfully deserve,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late last week

With top members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee supporting the legislation — including Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonTrump blasts Tester at Montana rally: 'He loves the swamp' Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash GOP senator warns Trump: Anyone who trash-talks McCain 'deserves a whipping' MORE (R-Ga.), the panel’s chairman, and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterMontana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ Trump Jr. campaign event looks for new venue after Montana restaurant declines to host MORE (Mont.), the top Democrat — it’s expected to easily clear the chamber.

The House is also expected to take up a slate of veterans-related legislation on Monday, including bolstering oversight of the VA’s electronic records plan.

NDAA

The House Rules Committee is expected to meet Monday to debate the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (NDAA). Debate on amendments to the legislation will take place Tuesday.

The $716 billion bill authorizes roughly 16,000 additional active-duty troops while providing a 2.6 percent salary increase, the highest in nine years. It also authorizes more than $25 billion for equipment maintenance and nearly $40 billion for upgrades to aviation.

The bill also allocates funding for two additional Virginia-class submarines and littoral combat ships, 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and the upgrade of thousands of vehicles.

The Senate is expected to bring its defense policy bill to the floor next month. 

Prison reform

A fight over prison reform is coming to a head in the House.

The chamber is expected to vote this week on a prison reform bill considered a key priority for President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE's adviser and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Manafort’s plea deal — the clear winners and losers MORE.

The bill provides funding for programs aimed at reducing the likelihood of inmates committing new crimes once released from prison.  

House Republicans have an ally in GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (Texas), who has urged the chamber to take up prison reform because of engrained opposition from the Trump administration to broader criminal justice legislation.

But the effort faces fierce opposition from other corners of the Senate, where influential members want broader reforms that include changes to mandatory minimum sentencing.

GOP Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley extends deadline for Kavanaugh accuser to decide on testifying Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Kavanaugh accuser seeks additional day to decide on testimony MORE (Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wants any prison reform bill to be paired with sentencing reform.

“[We’re going] to try to convince the White House that we’re right,” Grassley said earlier this month. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the president to have a bipartisan victory and to sign it, and that’s exactly what he needs for the midterm election.”

Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (Ill.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCNN editor: Booker's 'groping incident' 'different' from Kavanaugh allegation Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle MORE (Calif.) joined with Reps. John LewisJohn LewisCongress losing faith in Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi Obama to urge rejection of 'authoritarian politics and policies' in speech Florida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson MORE (Ga.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeePelosi calls on Ryan to bring long-term Violence Against Women Act to floor Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Jackson Lee: Dems must be 'vigilant' in ensuring all Americans have right to vote  MORE (Texas) to send a letter to the House and Senate Democratic colleagues warning that the prison reform bill was a “step backwards.”

"We are unwilling to support flawed prison reform legislation that does not include sentencing reform," the Democratic lawmakers added in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesMeek Mill: I now feel a responsibility to 'help change the world' Connect Beltway to America to get federal criminal justice reform done Dem lawmaker labels Trump the ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave’ MORE (D-N.Y.) hit back at his fellow Democrats for their opposition to the bipartisan prison reform in his own letter late last week.

“We have a Republican President. Republicans control the House of Representatives and the Senate. While the Senate authors of the opposition letter support the all or nothing approach, the Majority Leader apparently does not. Those are the facts,” he said.

Dodd-Frank overhaul

The House is expected to take up a Senate-passed measure exempting dozens of banks from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law this week.

The bipartisan legislation — spearheaded by Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoHillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law Trump authorizes sanctions against foreign governments that interfere in US elections Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Idaho) — aims to mitigate the impact the Obama-era regulatory bill has on small banks and credit unions.

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act is expected to easily make its way through the lower chamber despite some conservatives pushing stronger deregulation.

Under the legislation, banks with less than $250 billion in assets wouldn't be subject to yearly Federal Reserve stress tests or higher capital requirements. The current threshold is set at $50 billion.

The measure also exempts banks that extend 500 or fewer mortgages a year from reporting certain home-loan data to federal regulators in addition to broadening the definition of qualified mortgages.

Nominations

The Senate will work through several of Trump’s nominees this week.

McConnell has teed up a procedural vote on Dana Baiocco’s nomination to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Monday evening, setting up a final vote for Tuesday.

The Senate is also expected to take up Jelena McWilliams’s nomination to be chairperson of the board of directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and James Rudolph Evans to be ambassador to Luxembourg. 

Rachel Roubein, Sylvan Lane and Ellen Mitchell contributed.