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 RyanCruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director Bottom line Ex-Trump chief of staff Priebus mulling Wisconsin governor bid 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 GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Lawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Texas) before the farm bill was taken up.

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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 Roberts joins lobbying firm weeks after Senate retirement Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Window quickly closing for big coronavirus deal MORE (R-Kan.) is working on his own bill with Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCongress holds candlelight vigil for American lives lost to COVID-19 Two men charged with making threatening calls to Michigan officials On The Money: Democrats make historic push for aid, equity for Black farmers | Key players to watch in minimum wage fight 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 McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now 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 IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler leaves door open to 2022 rematch against Warnock Perdue on potential 2022 run: GOP must regain the Senate Bottom line MORE (R-Ga.), the panel’s chairman, and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic Jennifer Palmieri: 'Ever since I was aware of politics, I wanted to be in politics' Democrats in standoff over minimum wage 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 TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE's adviser and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office 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 CornynBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation 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 DurbinDick DurbinPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Democrats ask FBI for plans to address domestic extremism following Capitol attack MORE (Ill.), Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren To unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (Calif.) joined with Reps. John LewisJohn LewisHarris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' MORE (Ga.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip Obama says reparations 'justified' 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 JeffriesHarris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' 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 CrapoBiden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda Becerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation 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.