• WisPolitics

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

 12:22 PM 

Column: Delegation members play key roles as deadlines loom ahead of Memorial Day recess

This is an excerpt from Nicole Duran's weekly DC Wrap column. Sign up to get the full column in your inbox each week.

Congress faces two major deadlines, with a third lurking around the corner and a fourth, artificial one put into place.

And at the center of the action are Wisconsin delegation members.

Congress has until month's end to reauthorize -- or let expire -- some of the most controversial domestic surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which was enacted in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It has the same scant four legislative days to extend federal highway and transit funding. It has until June 30, which seems like months away in the current congressional time warp, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank or force the more than 80-year-old credit finance institution to shutter

But before that, the Senate now apparently only has until the Memorial Day recess to decide whether to give President Barack Obama so-called "fast-track" authority on trade deals.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned colleagues on Monday that they would have to deal with all but the Ex-Im Bank this week or give up their pending recess, which is scheduled to begin Friday.

"Senators should know that I'm quite serious," McConnell said. "I would advise against making any sort of travel arrangements until the path forward becomes clear." Later he clarified that he meant all three priorities had to be cleared before he would let the Senate adjourn.

Further complicating matters is that House and Senate GOP leaders aren't on the same legislative page. Last week the House overwhelmingly approved Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's tweaks to the domestic surveillance programs that would curtail the National Security Agency's authority to collect telephone "metadata" from Americans' phone records in bulk. But the Senate refused to take up the measure authored by the Menomonee Falls Republican.

McConnell doesn't just want the Senate to consider the USA Freedom Act; he wants lawmakers to approve an outright extension of the surveillance programs, including roving wiretaps, the so-called "lone-wolf" provision and the phone records' dragnet. See more below on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's tentative support for the Sensenbrenner measure.

On the trade front, McConnell wants Congress to approve Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast-track" authority, which allows a president to present a trade deal to Congress for simple up-or-down approval with no opportunity for amendment. A majority of Democrats--with Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, being a notable exception-- oppose doing so. And bipartisan filibuster threats against the legislation abound in the Senate, which last week blocked the bill from coming to the floor.

However, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, TPA's House champion, swears he can find the House votes to pass it if the Senate can.

"We will have the votes," Ryan said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "We're doing very well. We're gaining a lot of steam and momentum."

One proposed amendment to TPA in the Senate would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, which would further jeopardize the underlying bill's chances, especially in the House. There are major divisions within the GOP over allowing the bank to continue operating. Congress used to routinely extend the bank's authority but now many conservative Republicans rail against the government credit agency, saying it picks corporate winners and losers.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is the bank's most powerful opponent. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, a subcommittee chairman, last year was noncommittal about the bank's fate but now backs his chairman and opposes reauthorizing it, according to his office. The only other Wisconsinite on the panel, Milwaukee's Gwen Moore, has sponsored legislation to keep the bank open.

"The moment we let it expire, is the moment we lose thousands of American jobs," said Moore spokesman Eric Harris. "That's a big problem. Democrats are aligned on this."

Less controversial, but nonetheless somewhat problematic for McConnell, is the matter of highway funding. McConnell has proposed only extending contracting authority for another two months. Democrats howl in opposition, but are likely to ultimately go along with it. The House is expected to easily pass its own version of a two-month extension this week.

Read Duran's column for more on this and other DC issues

Back to DC Wrap main page

: See newer blog items : : See older blog items :

DC Wrap site feed


wispolitics.com Social News

Follow Us


WisPolitics coverage of news from the nation's capital.

JR Ross, David Wise

· DC Wrap site feed (RSS)

· Sign up for email delivery of the weekly DC Wrap column


· Tammy Baldwin (D)
· Ron Johnson (R)

· 1st CD: Paul Ryan (R)
· 2nd CD: Mark Pocan (D)
· 3rd CD: Ron Kind (D)
· 4th CD: Gwen Moore (D)
· 5th CD: F. James Sensenbrenner (R)
· 6th CD: Glenn Grothman (R)
· 7th CD: Sean Duffy (R)
· 8th CD: Reid Ribble (R)



· July 2013: Wood's 2001 DC inauguration trip turned into new career
· May 2013: Hard work propels Berens from Doyle to Pelosi to DGA
· March 2013: Riemann uses PR skills, 'lunch-pail work ethic' to boost state interests in D.C.
· Feb. 2013: Stocks seeks to remake NEA as 'more than a traditional labor union'
· Dec. 2012: As modest Kohl bids farewell to Senate, others do the bragging
· Dec. 2012: Wisconsin experience provides guideposts to Priebus at RNC


· May 2009
· June 2009
· July 2009
· August 2009
· September 2009
· October 2009
· November 2009
· December 2009
· January 2010
· February 2010
· March 2010
· April 2010
· May 2010
· June 2010
· July 2010
· August 2010
· September 2010
· October 2010
· November 2010
· December 2010
· January 2011
· February 2011
· March 2011
· April 2011
· May 2011
· June 2011
· July 2011
· August 2011
· September 2011
· October 2011
· November 2011
· December 2011
· January 2012
· February 2012
· March 2012
· April 2012
· May 2012
· June 2012
· July 2012
· August 2012
· September 2012
· October 2012
· November 2012
· December 2012
· January 2013
· February 2013
· March 2013
· April 2013
· May 2013
· June 2013
· July 2013
· August 2013
· September 2013
· October 2013
· November 2013
· December 2013
· January 2014
· February 2014
· March 2014
· April 2014
· May 2014
· June 2014
· July 2014
· August 2014
· September 2014
· October 2014
· November 2014
· December 2014
· January 2015
· February 2015
· March 2015
· April 2015
· May 2015
· June 2015
· July 2015
· September 2015
· October 2015
· November 2015
· December 2015
· January 2016
· February 2016
· March 2016
· April 2016
· May 2016
· June 2016
· July 2016
· August 2016
· September 2016
· October 2016
· November 2016
· December 2016
· January 2017
Copyright ©2012 WisPolitics.com All rights reserved. | WisOpinion.com | WisBusiness.com  |  Website development by wisnet.com LLC  | Website design by Makin’ Hey Communications