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McCarthy Outlines Busy, Maybe Tense, April Work Period

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a two-week respite, April is shaping up to be a month of long nights, nods to the GOP base and divisions on both sides of the aisle.  

That's according to a memo sent to members Thursday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.  First on the docket, just in time for Tax Day on April 15, are a series of Republican-sponsored bills "aimed at getting the government off the backs of taxpayers and reforming the institutions that serve them." Also, several measures "to begin the process of restoring trust in the [Internal Revenue Service]," which came under fire in 2013 for stymieing applications of certain conservative outside groups seeking tax-exempt status. Democrats will slam the bills as symbolic messaging gambits; Republicans will be content to pass them all on party-line votes and hope the new GOP-controlled Senate will move them through its pipeline.  

At the end of April, the House will tackle the first two of the 12 annual appropriations bills, setting the gears in motion for Congress's perennial quest to fund government operations through "regular order," rather than being forced to bundle line items together in an omnibus.  

The chamber will take up the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Energy and Water Development bills under "open rules," which means members can offer and force floor votes on countless amendments. McCarthy warned colleagues to prepare for late-night debate during the consideration of both bills.  

In the middle of the month is when things could get sticky.  

The week of April 20, House is due to debate cybersecurity legislation, which typically sounds alarm bells for libertarian Republicans and some progressive Democrats. The two measures likely to come up aren't the most controversial bills. One, the "Protecting Cyber Networks Act," won unanimous voice vote approval from the House Intelligence Committee in March, a positive sign for winning bipartisan support on the floor. The Homeland Security Committee could also prepare for floor consideration its own cybersecurity bill, the details of which panel Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, outlined last month.  

Both bills aim to strengthen protections and streamline the process by which cyber threats are shared between different channels, but lawmakers sensitive to the integrity of civil liberties might argue that it doesn't protect consumers enough.  

Certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act are also due to expire at the end of May, and McCarthy signaled in his memo that Congress could begin to tackle them before April clocks out. Renewing the expiring language, McCarthy wrote to members, is "necessary to maintain the U.S. Intelligence Community’s ability to monitor the communications and activities of foreign terrorists who seek to attack the homeland."  

Consideration of the Patriot Act is where truly disparate bipartisan coalitions could form, with Democrats and Republicans increasingly troubled by the post-Sept. 11, 2001 law and later amendments, particularly in the wake of the revelations made public by Edward Snowden.  

McCarthy also gives shout-outs to the possibility of a budget resolution conference report, and throws his support behind the Benghazi Committee probing of ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's private emails.  

Read the full memo below:

MEMORANDUM TO:                         House Republicans FROM:                  Kevin McCarthy DATE:                    April 9, 2015 SUBJECT:             April Agenda “Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.” – Ronald Reagan  If your conversations with constituents are like mine, I bet you’ve heard at least one of the following refrains this year: “Take responsibility”  “Lead the way” “Get things done” Americans want results. That’s why we should all be encouraged by the way we finished March. We accomplished two major goals and in so doing, set the tone for the remainder of this Congress. Number one, we passed a budget. As I have said before, our budget represents our vision for the future. We envision a more efficient, more accountable government that lives within its means. We envision a stronger America that provides freedom and security, both at home and abroad. And we envision a nation that values hard work and gives everyone the opportunity to live out their American dream. This is the vision I believe we are all striving towards each day and I am more confident than ever in our ability to make it a reality. We also repealed the flawed SGR physician payment system—once and for all—while ensuring much needed fiscal stability to the Medicare program. For too long, this problem had been kicked down the road with one “fix” after another. By addressing it head on, however, we have removed another burdensome legislative cliff from the docket and secured the most significant entitlement reforms in nearly two decades. Looking ahead to April, we will build on this momentum and continue delivering results on behalf of the American people. April 13th – 16th | Tax Freedom and Financial Independence Growing a healthy economy with consumer choice and a fair tax code With April 15th right around the corner, nobody needs to remind the American people that it’s tax season. Under our current tax system, nobody is getting a fair shake. Whether it’s families struggling with the hours required by compliance, the cost of hiring professional help, or a heavy tax burden, our tax system is costing hardworking taxpayers more and more every year. House Republicans remain committed to the ultimate goal of a simpler, fairer tax code. Meanwhile, the IRS has maliciously targeted individuals and groups simply because of their personal beliefs. The current system is unfair and America is fed up.   We must also remained focused on stemming the growing avalanche of Washington red tape and regulatory overreach that harms consumers and taxpayers, reduces their choices and makes it harder for them to achieve financial independence. Consumers and taxpayers now have fewer community financial institutions to help them achieve financial independence. Without these institutions, it is harder to buy a car so they can drive to work, send a child to college, or start a small business. We will begin this month with a series of bills aimed at getting the government off the backs of taxpayers and reforming the institutions that serve them. First up will be a series of bills to promote a healthier economy, preserve consumer choice and help our fellow Americans achieve the dream of financial independence:  H.R. 299, Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act of 2015 (Stivers) H.R. 601, Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act (Luetkemeyer) H.R. 1195, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act (Pittenger) H.R. 1259, Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act (Barr) H.R. 1265, Bureau Advisory Commission Transparency Act (Duffy) H.R. 1367, Applying the Expedited Funds Availability Act to American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands (Radewagen) H.R. 1480, SAFE Act Confidentiality and Privilege Enhancement Act (Dold) H.R. 650, Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2015 (Fincher) H.R. 685, Mortgage Choice Act of 2015 (Huizenga) The House will also hold the IRS accountable and ensure fairness for all. Since the allegations of the IRS targeting conservatives for their political beliefs were confirmed, Americans have lost faith in the ability of the IRS to fairly administer our tax laws. The Department of Justice's recent decision to exonerate Lois Lerner and the Inspector General’s easy recovery of emails the IRS Commissioner testified under oath were irretrievably lost demonstrate that the Administration is unwilling to fix what's wrong at the IRS. The following bills will begin the process of restoring trust in the IRS, increasing transparency, fairness, and accountability: H.R. 1058, Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2015 (Roskam) H.R. 1152, Prohibiting officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service from using personal email accounts to conduct official business (Marchant) H.R. 1026, Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act (M. Kelly) H.R. 1314, Providing for a right to an administrative appeal relating to adverse determinations of tax-exempt status of certain organizations (Meehan) H.R. 1295, Improving the process for making determinations with respect to whether organizations are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(4) of such Code (Holding) H.R. 709, Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act (Renacci) H.R. 1104, Fair Treatment for All Donations Act (Roskam) H.R. 1563, Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015 (Chaffetz) H.R. 1562, Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2015 (Chaffetz) Our constituents make sacrifices every day to provide for themselves and their families. We owe it to them to create a simpler, fairer tax code that respects their hard work and doesn’t give the federal government one dollar more than it needs. That’s why we will finish the week with two bills that make sure Americans keep more of their hard earned money: H.R. 1105, Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015 (K. Brady) H.R. 622, Permanent State & Local Tax Deduction (K. Brady) April 21st - 23rd | Cybersecurity  Balancing the public's right to privacy and the government's responsibility to keep us safe  Cyber-attacks and cyber espionage represent increasingly dangerous and consequential threats facing the United States. As our reliance on information technology steadily grows, our digital infrastructure remains vulnerable to the mounting intrusions by independent cybercriminals and state-sponsored operations. This puts almost all aspects of American life at risk. Under constant attack, U.S. computer networks have already sustained numerous high-level security breaches, including the hack of Sony Pictures last fall. These intrusions have cost American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, while giving foreign entities access to sensitive intellectual property and military information. The House Republican majority has led the way on cybersecurity for years, only to see common-sense legislative solutions get stuck in Harry Reid’s Senate. With recent high profile data breaches, the White House and Senate Democrats are finally getting on board with much of what the House has already called for – giving us opportunities to work with our partners across the aisle on strong, bipartisan legislation. To address this growing threat, several committees are working on legislation to secure cyber networks and prevent data breaches. These bills will facilitate greater information-sharing about cyber-threat information between the private sector and government while protecting civil liberties and promoting best practices. These reforms are critical to protecting our national computer networks and ensuring that America can meet the growing cyber challenges that are likely to arise in the coming years. April 28th – May 1st | Appropriations  A government that is efficient, effective, accountable. and lives within its means  Having passed a budget, we now turn to the task of considering appropriations bills. The “power of the purse” is one of Congress’ most fundamental responsibilities and our appropriations process has been instrumental in curbing wasteful Washington spending in recent years. We will continue to force Washington to live within its means through the appropriations process this year. In accordance with House Republicans’ commitments, we will operate under an open process on the Floor. The first two appropriations bills we will consider will be: Military Construction / Veterans Affairs (Dent) Energy and Water Development (Simpson) (Remember that it is possible that the House may hold recorded votes past 7:00 p.m. during consideration of appropriation bills) We also continue to work toward completion of a budget conference report and will bring it to the floor when the conference committee has completed its work. Additionally, as the threat to our homeland from foreign terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda – or from foreign fighter flows to and from Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen – continues to grow, the House may consider reauthorization of key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act in April.  These provisions, which expire at the end of May, are necessary to maintain the U.S. Intelligence Community’s ability to monitor the communications and activities of foreign terrorists who seek to attack the homeland.  Oversight | Searching for the Truth Last week, Chairman Trey Gowdy sent a letter requesting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi for a transcribed interview relating to her use of a private email account and server during her tenure at the State Department. This comes on the heels of revelations that Secretary Clinton deleted 55,000 emails and that her private server has since been wiped clean.  I join Chairman Gowdy in urging the review of her private server by an independent, third-party arbiter. Many questions remain unanswered and I applaud the Select Committee’s continued diligent efforts to find the truth. As you can see, we will have a busy month and must never forget that we are here to serve the American people. Every one of the bills we will consider this month will continue the House’s mission to increase freedom for our constituents, promote opportunity for the American people, and hold government in Washington accountable. By pulling Washington back, we can again give the American people space to live their lives and achieve prosperity. Finally, in celebration of this week’s return of America’s pastime, let’s see who can be the first to correctly answer this month’s trivia question:  Who was the first U.S. President to throw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game?  
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