This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination
© Greg Nash

House Democrats are set to move forward with legislation to expand the Civil Rights Act — a top legislative priority that faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The bill, which would expand the 1964 law to ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender, is set to get a vote in the House as soon as Thursday.

House Democrats pledged shortly before last year’s midterm election that they would bring up the legislation if they won back the majority. They also gave the legislation a low bill number, H.R. 5, underscoring its importance to the House Democratic agenda.

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“LGBT Americans and their families deserve to be protected against all forms of discrimination no matter where they live,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote House Democrats seek bipartisan working group on net neutrality Steyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess MORE (D-Md.) said on the floor.  “This legislation would ban discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, education, jury service, credit and financing, and public accommodations.”

The bill is expected to receive broad support from Democrats and centrists. Two Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors — Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (Pa.) and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoAfter National Police Week, clearer heads must prevail in legislation slashing Amtrak security Here are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act MORE (N.Y.) — and with 240 total co-sponsors, it’s all but guaranteed to pass the House this week.

But H.R. 5 has been met with sharp pushback from conservatives including groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, which have slammed the bill.

The Heritage Foundation alleged the measure could “force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms,” “would force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for these therapies against any moral or medical objections” and would "lead to the erasure of women.”

The Business Coalition for the Equality Act — which is made up of roughly 200 companies including Facebook, Google, Hilton and JPMorgan Chase amongst others — have announced their support for the measure.

If the bill, which was first introduced in 2015, was signed into law it would be the first national nondiscrimination law for LGBTQ Americans.

But it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where supporters would face long odds of convincing Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) to bring it up for a vote. Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren vows to fight 'tooth and nail' for LGBTQ protections as president This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (D-Wis.) told NBC News earlier this year that "if you just had an up-or-down vote, we would have sufficient votes in both houses."

In 2013, the chamber, then controlled by Democrats, passed a narrower bill introduced by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump Senators introduce bill to end warrantless searches of electronic devices at border MORE (D-Ore.), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Four Republicans still in the Senate voted for the bill at the time: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse votes to boost retirement savings The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget WANTED: A Republican with courage MORE (Ohio) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (Pa.).

Only one, Collins, has backed the Senate’s version of the Equality Act. The bill has 46 co-sponsors, in addition to Merkley, leaving it short of the 60 votes it would need to defeat a filibuster.

Nominations

The Senate is expected to vote on Trump’s nominee to succeed former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE, who stepped down from his post on Friday.

McConnell is expected to move on Monday to set up a vote on Jeffrey Rosen’s nomination for the No. 2 Justice Department spot, paving the way for the Senate to confirm him by the end of the week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Rosen’s nomination late last week on a 12-10 party-line vote.

Rosen, who was formally nominated in March, currently serves as deputy secretary of Transportation. He also previously worked in the George W. Bush administration and practiced law at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm.

Democrats have raised concerns over Rosen's ascension to the deputy attorney general spot during his confirmation hearing, with questions about his qualifications and his potential role in overseeing probes spawning out of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE's investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Feinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, said shortly before the committee’s vote that she couldn't support Rosen because he would be "learning on the job" and has a "history of partisanship that risks undermining the independence that we have so badly needed."

"We also need someone who's willing to act as an independent voice for the Department of Justice; unfortunately, I am not convinced that Jeffrey Rosen is that person," Feinstein said.

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Senate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Hawaii) said she has "serious concerns" about sending Rosen's nomination to the full Senate, noting his lack of experience in the Justice Department (DOJ).

"Jeffrey Rosen with his lack of experience with the DOJ, but with his experience in Republican politics, is good for Donald Trump but not good for the country," Hirono added.

But Rosen is expected to be confirmed by the Senate later this week. Rosen needs only a simple majority and Republicans hold 53 seats.

In addition to Rosen, the Senate will vote on Michael Truncale's and Wendy Vitter’s nominations to be district judges, Brian Bulatao to be an under secretary of State and Kenneth Lee’s nomination to be a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

Prescription drugs

The lower chamber is slated to take up the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act this week, Hoyer confirmed on Friday.

The legislation is composed of seven bills aimed at lowering drug costs and unwinding the Trump Administration’s moves to unwind ObamaCare.

“The legislation consists of separate bills from the Energy and Commerce Committee to ban junk health plans, bring generic prescription drugs to market more quickly, provide funding for states to establish state-based marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, require and provide funding for outreach and enrollment, and fund the navigator program that assists Americans during the open enrollment period,” Hoyer said on the floor. “All of these bills, obviously, will be directed at trying to reverse some of the steps that have been taken to undermine Americans' access to affordable, quality health care.”

While a number of the bills that are part of the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act passed out of committee with bipartisan support, it’s unlikely it will see much bipartisan support on the floor or action in the Republican-controlled Senate due to certain provisions taking aim at the administration's actions toward the Affordable Care Act.

Tribal bills

House Democrats are slated to place two bills related to Native American land rights on the floor this week after pulling them at the eleventh hour after President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE tweeted encouraging Republicans to vote against one of the measures.

H.R. 312 would end a legal challenge to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s reservation in Massachusetts brought by opponents of its proposed casino.

“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren,” Trump tweeted shortly before the vote was expected to take place, using his derisive nickname for Warren, a Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential candidate. “It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!”

A second bill — spearheaded by Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeEx-GOP lawmaker says Trump 'illegitimate president,' should be impeached Ex-GOP lawmaker pens op-ed calling for Trump to be impeached House panel approves language revoking 2001 war authority as Iran tensions spike MORE (R-Okla.)  — would have affirmed the federal government’s right to place land into a trust for a tribe’s benefit.

The bills are being rescheduled for a vote with a rule, requiring less than a two-thirds majority to send them to the Senate.

Mueller report

House Democrats are continuing negotiations to have special counsel Robert Mueller testify, after they had hoped to have him before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters late last week that they were still negotiating Mueller's appearance, saying "we’re talking with him and the Justice Department.”

“He will come at some point. If it’s necessary, we will subpoena him and he will come,” Nadler said later.

Democrats have been eager to hear from Mueller since he turned over his report on his two-year investigation into Russian meddling and the Trump campaign in late March.

They argue that Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' House Democrats must insist that Robert Mueller testifies publicly Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill MORE has misled them about the findings of Mueller's investigation, increasing the need for the special counsel to testify himself.

Barr has said he wouldn't object to Mueller testifying, but he could face new pressure, as Trump has argued the special counsel shouldn’t appear before Congress.

Mueller is still an employee of the Justice Department, meaning that Barr could instruct him not to testify or otherwise delay his testimony. The House Judiciary Committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on executive privilege and congressional oversight.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-S.C.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has also asked Mueller if he wants to testify about any "misrepresentations" Barr might have made about a phone call they had after the attorney general released a four-page memo detailing the top-line conclusions of the Russia investigation.

Graham and a spokesperson for him said late last week that they hadn't yet heard back from Mueller.

The ongoing talks with Mueller come as Democrats have dug in on their fight with Barr over their demand for the entire Mueller report and the underlying documents.

The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for documents and materials related to Mueller’s investigation into Russia's election interference.

The House Judiciary Committee also voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for not complying with subpoenas for documents related to Mueller's probe.