THE DAILY WHIP: WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017

House Meets At:First Vote Predicted:Last Vote Predicted:

10:00 a.m.: Morning Hour
12:00 p.m.: Legislative Business

Fifteen “One Minutes”
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

***MEMBERS ARE ADVISED THAT CLOSE VOTES ARE POSSIBLE THIS WEEK.  ANY EXPECTED ABSENCES SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE WHIP’S OFFICE AT x5-3130.

H.Res. 431 – Rule providing for consideration of both H.R. 23 – Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017 (Rep. Valadao – Natural Resources) and H.R. 2810National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Rep. Thornberry – Armed Services).  The Rules Committee has recommended one Rule which would provide for consideration of two bills.

For H.R. 23, the Rule provides for one hour of general debate, equally divided between the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Natural Resources. The Rule provides for consideration of 6 amendments, each debatable for 10 minutes, equally controlled by the proponent and opponent of the amendment.

For H.R. 2810, the Rule provides for one hour of general debate, equally divided between the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services. The Rule provides for consideration of eighty-eight amendments, each debatable for 10 minutes, equally controlled by the proponent and opponent of the amendment.

The Rule also provides the Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services authority to offer amendments en bloc, consisting of amendments not previously considered. All en bloc amendments are debatable for 20 minutes equally divided between the Chair and Ranking Member of the committee on Armed Services. 

A second Rule providing for additional amendments to H.R. 2810 is expected to be considered on the Floor tomorrow.  

The Rule also self-executes an amendment by Rep. Palazzo of Mississippi which removes language in H.R. 2810 prohibiting funding from being used for a border wall.  Members are urged to VOTE NO.

H.R. 23 – Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017 (Rep. Valadao – Natural Resources)(One hour of debate).  The bill interferes with California’s water management and increases the current water allocations to farmers and communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley at the expense of everyone else, including West Coast salmon fisheries.

After an exceptionally wet winter, California’s historic six-year drought has ended and in April of this year Gov. Brown lifted the drought emergency for most of the state. All major federal reservoirs in California are now well above 100% of their 15-year averages and all federal water users are getting 100% of their water allocations this year.

The bill overturns a historic settlement reached in 2006 between conservation and fishing interests on one side and agriculture interests on the other. The San Joaquin River Settlement ended a 20 year lawsuit requiring State and federal agencies to cooperate in returning water and a self-sustaining salmon population to the San Joaquin River, California’s second longest river. The bill dictates water allocations under certain conditions for agricultural interests and it changes safeguards under the Endangered Species Act that currently protect economically important fisheries. The bill effectively legislates science, rolling back existing biological opinions required under the Endangered Species Act and reverts back to obsolete limits established more than two decades ago. This redistribution of limited water supplies to large industrial farming operations in the San Joaquin Valley could harm the West Coast salmon fishery. 

The bill includes language identical to H.R. 1654, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (Rep. McClintock) which passed the House last month.  That vote can be found here. This provision would alter the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) permitting process to expedite the construction of new dams. It establishes a permitting process which effectively puts the BOR in the driver seat of permitting new dams and has the potential to undermine the work of other federal agencies fulfilling their statutory obligations to assess impacts on water quality via the Clean Water Act or listed species under the Endangered Species Act.  Proponents of this provision argue that “streamlining” the permitting process for new dams will help to create jobs and grow the economy. In reality, the high cost of building a dam, coupled with the limited available funds and permitting issues on the state level, are the primary impediments to building new dams, not federal environmental laws or delays in the federal permitting process. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, not a single dam has been denied construction because of a lack of coordination between Reclamation and other agencies or because of delays associated with environmental review and permitting.

H.R. 23 is opposed by Gov. Brown and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. Previous Congresses have considered similar California water legislation, including: H.R. 2898 from the 114th Congress; H.R. 3964 from the 113th Congress; and H.R. 1837 from the 112th Congress.

The Rule makes in order 6 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes, equally divided between the offeror and an opponent.  The amendment is:

LaMalfa Amendment. Ensures water supply rescheduling provisions apply to equitably to all water districts in region.
Costa Amendment #2. Authorizes the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to conduct geophysical characterization activities of groundwater aquifers and groundwater vulnerability in California, including identifying areas of greatest recharge potential.
Costa Amendment #3. Authorizes the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to develop a study to enhance mountain runoff to Central Valley Project reservoirs from headwaters restoration activities.
Denham Amendment. Sets a timeline for completion of the New Melones Reservoir study, prevents exploitation of water rights, extends the program to protect Anadromous Fish in Stanislaus River for 2 years.
DeSaulnier Amendment. Requires a review of available and new, innovative technologies for capturing municipal wastewater and recycling it for providing drinking water and energy, and a report on the feasibility of expanding the implementation of these technologies and programs among Central Valley Project contractors
Pearce/Torres Amendment. Ensures that the water rights of federally recognized Indian tribes are not affected by this bill.

Bill Text for H.R. 23:
PDF Version

Begin Consideration of H.R. 2810 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Rep. Thornberry – Armed Services) (Subject to a Rule). The bill would provide for the authorization of funding for the Department of Defense and other related agencies, programs, and operations for Fiscal Year 2018. It authorizes approximately $621.5 billion for base budget requirements and an additional $74.6 billion designated for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  However, $10 billion of the $74.6 billion designated as OCO will go to non-OCO base budget activities, manipulating the OCO designation created to account for spending to carry out current conflicts.  Even without this OCO plus-up, the bill authorizes $72 billion above the sequester level Budget Control Act’s cap of $549 billion in defense budget authority for FY2018.

The bill supports a 2.4 percent pay increase for military personnel. It also includes important provisions related to sexual assault in the military and authorizes funding for suicide prevention programs among the Special Operations community.

The legislation maintains the current restriction on domestic transfers of Guantanamo detainees and prevents the use of funds for construction or modification of U.S. facilities to house Guantánamo detainees. The bill provides for $4.65 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative and extends the authorization for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

A full list of the 88 amendments made in order in the first Rule can be found HERE.

Bill Text for H.R. 2810:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 2810:
House Report (HTML Version)

House Report (PDF Version)

Suspensions (4 bills)

  1. H.R. 2430 – FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Rep. Walden – Energy and Commerce)
  2. H.R. 2664 – Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act (Rep. Walberg – Education and the Workforce)
  3. H.R. 2480 – Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (Rep. Hartzler – Judiciary)
  4. H.R. 2200 – Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017, as amended (Rep. Smith (NJ) – Foreign Affairs)

Postponed Vote (1 vote)

  1. H.R. 1492 – Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act of 2017 (Rep. Sessions – Energy and Commerce)

TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK
The GOP Leadership has announced the following schedule for Wednesday, July 13: The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House is expected to continue consideration of H.R. 2810 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Rep. Thornberry – Armed Services) (Subject to a Rule).

 
The Daily Quote

“Senate Republican leaders, facing their restive colleagues after the Fourth of July recess, vowed on Tuesday to press ahead with their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with a new version of their bill on Thursday and a vote next week — regardless of the deep divisions in the party… But pessimism among Republicans still pervaded the Capitol on Tuesday after a week in their home states that did little to resolve the disputes that thwarted a vote last month.  Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said Tuesday that he was ‘very pessimistic’ about passing a bill, while Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said it was ‘very possible, very probable’ that the Senate bill was dead. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said, ‘Minor changes and tweaks will not be sufficient to win my support for the bill.’”

     -    New York Times, 7/11/2017