Politics

5 Big Things the House Is Not Doing Before August Recess

Appropriations, immigration matters and Russia response among the unaddressed issues

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference with House Republican leaders on July 17. Also appearing are, from left, conference chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate prepares to work into August, the House is set to adjourn Thursday for its annual late summer recess with some unfinished business. 

Some legislative items the House is leaving on the table are must-pass bills with looming deadlines, and others are issues members want to tackle. Here are five things the chamber will not have done before they head home for August recess:

Half of the appropriations bills

The House has passed only half of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2019. With only 11 legislative days in September, it’s unclear whether GOP leaders will come up with a solution for packing in the remaining six that would allow the House to pass all 12 bills before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. 

GOP leaders know they’ll need to use a continuing resolution to keep some agencies funded regardless but are hoping that some bills can be conferenced with the Senate and enacted into law before the end of September. 

Family reunification legislation

House Republicans were initially eager to put forth a legislative solution to the family separation crisis at the border, but they seem to have lost their urgency.

That’s partially because two larger immigration bills that included provisions for keeping families together failed to pass the House in June. President Donald Trump’s executive order attempting to reunify families also took away the immediate need for a legislative solution.

Watch: Odds of a Government Shutdown Tick Up as House Leaves for Recess With Unfinished Business

But a long-term solution does require congressional action, particularly because a federal judge declined the Trump administration’s request to overturn a previous ruling known as the Flores settlement, which prevents accompanied children from being detained for more than 20 days.

Legislation is also needed to provide funding to build housing for holding migrant families as the parents await judicial proceedings for illegal border crossings.

Promised Ag/E-Verify vote

In immigration negotiations last month over the two failed comprehensive bills, GOP leaders promised members a separate vote before the August recess on two issues they left out of those measures. 

The push for a vote on expanding an agriculture guest worker program and requiring employers to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of their employees has since faded, however. 

Some members seem willing to give GOP leaders a pass on following through with the promise since the other immigration bills failed. But several lawmakers with agriculture-heavy districts that rely on foreign labor still want to have a vote on a guest worker program as soon as possible. 

GOP leaders don’t want to bring another immigration bill to the floor that’s going to fail, though, and they say there is not yet enough support to pass E-Verify/guest worker legislation.

Russia response

Trump’s comments following a meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he suggested he had no reason to believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election spurred swift bipartisan rebukes. 

The president walked the comments back a day later, only to send mixed signals later that week about whether Russia was attempting to interfere in the midterm elections this year. 

In the wake of Trump’s messaging mishaps, several lawmakers introduced resolutions to make clear the U.S. stands by the intelligence committee’s conclusions of Russia interference and bills to impose additional Russia sanctions, among other legislation targeting the Kremlin.

None of those measures are scheduled for floor consideration in the House before the recess begins.

Trump on Whether Russia Is Still Targeting the U.S.: ‘No’

TANF overhaul

Authorization for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program expires Sept. 30. The House Ways and Means Committee has reported out a bill to reauthorize, rename and restructure the program, but it’s not going to be on the floor before August. 

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters last month that the bill would be on the floor sometime in July, but on Monday he suggested they were looking at refining it more.

“The clock clicked faster than we were ready,” the Texas Republican said. “So we’ve been — after we passed it out of the committee — just listening to stakeholders, working with the states. They brought forth some ideas as well.”

Discussions on the bill will continue through August, with the hope of having it ready to put on the House floor this fall, Brady said. 

The TANF bill is part of House Republicans’ welfare overhaul push and would follow their effort to strengthen work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as part of the House-passed farm bill.

The House and Senate are in formal conference committee negotiations over the farm bill, the major disagreement being whether the work requirement provisions should stay since they are not in the Senate version.

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