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 RyanTrump doubles down on Neil Cavuto attacks: 'Will he get the same treatment as' Shep Smith? Trump lashes out at Fox News coverage: 'I won every one of my debates' On The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare 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 GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars 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 RobertsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Kobach says he discussed his Senate bid with Trump Republicans expect Trump to withdraw controversial Fed nominee MORE (R-Kan.) is working on his own bill with Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOn The Money: GAO to investigate Trump aid for farmers | Bloomberg calls for bolstering Dodd-Frank | Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes GAO launches investigation into Trump aid for farmers Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength 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 McConnellTop GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Everytown plans ad blitz on anniversary of House background check bill Kentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems 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 IsaksonProgressive group backs Senate candidates in Georgia, Iowa Overnight Health Care: Trump budget calls for cutting Medicaid, ACA by T | Trump proposes removing FDA authority over tobacco | Lawmakers frustrated by lack of emergency funds for coronavirus Anti-abortion group backs Loeffler's election campaign after opposing her Senate appointment MORE (R-Ga.), the panel’s chairman, and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senator: 'The ultimate of ironies' for Trump to hit Romney for invoking his faith Committee on Veterans Affairs sends important message during tense Senate time Democrats cry foul over Schiff backlash 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 TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE's adviser and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Democrats duke it out during Nevada debate Blagojevich heaps praise on Trump after release from prison The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms 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 CornynOcasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony 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 GrassleyErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law 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 DurbinOvernight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (Ill.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dem anxiety grows ahead of Super Tuesday House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHouse to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (Calif.) joined with Reps. John LewisJohn LewisObama sends birthday wishes to John Lewis: 'Thanks for making good trouble' Minnesota congressman diagnosed with cancer House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum MORE (Ga.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber No experience required: US hiring immigration judges who don't have any immigration law experience Trump administration restricts travel from Nigeria and five other countries 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 JeffriesLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts On The Money: Fed chief warns Congress on deficits | Trump blames Powell after Dow dips slightly | Trump withdraws nomination of former US attorney for Treasury post Jeffries: Trump budget is a 'declaration of war on the American dream' 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 CrapoErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire On The Money: Economy grows 2.3 percent in 2019, slowest year under Trump | How coronavirus could impact the US economy | Farm bankruptcies jump | Pelosi not ready to back UK trade deal 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.