Congress

Hoyer outlines House schedule, legislative agenda for coming work period

Health care, climate change and equal rights will figure prominently

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., outlined the House schedule for legislation for the coming work period. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will vote on at least three of Democrats’ top priorities in May, as the chamber takes up legislation on health care, climate change and equal rights.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday informing Democrats of the planned floor schedule for the four-week legislative work period that will begin next week. Congress will be coming off its two-week Easter recess, with the next district work period occurring the week of Memorial Day.

First up on the upcoming agenda is HR 9, a bill affirming support for the United States staying in the Paris climate agreement despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to exit the pact as soon as eligible.

The week of May 6 the House will consider its latest version of a disaster relief funding package for continued federal assistance to states and U.S. territories ravaged by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters.

Watch: What is congressional recess? Explaining time off in the House and Senate

The $17.2 billion emergency supplemental that House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey introduced earlier this month adds $3 billion to legislation the House passed in January to help provide relief for floods in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South.

Senate Republicans declined to take up the original House bill because of a dispute over funding for Puerto Rico funding and have failed to advance their own version amid Democratic opposition.

“This will be the second disaster relief supplemental passed by the House; it is deeply disappointing that the Senate has failed to take action to provide disaster aid to our fellow Americans across the country,” Hoyer said in his letter.

Hoyer mentioned three other bills he plans to bring to the floor in May, although he did not specify which weeks he would do so. Those are the Equality Act (HR 5), which would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the SECURE Act, which would update retirement account laws to make it easier for individuals to save more, and an extension of the national flood insurance program that is set to expire at the end of May.

Also planned for votes in May once committees have finished marking up bills are several measures — which may be packaged for floor consideration — that would update the 2010 health care law and address prescription drug costs.

Hoyer said it is also possible the House will vote on the Dream and Promise Act (HR 6) in May, pending committee action, and the Consumers First Act. The former is a bill to provide permanent legal status to young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and the latter is a measure to reverse the administration’s efforts to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Other legislative items under discussion in the caucus include the Raise the Wage Act, which would incrementally increase the federal minimum hourly wage to $15 over five years.

The bill currently lacks enough Democratic support to pass the House, but leaders have been working to sway hesitant members. Hoyer said the caucus will continue to discuss the measure with hopes of taking action later this spring.

Most if not all of the bills House Democrats plan to pass in May face little chance of being brought up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Hoyer said he hopes Republicans “will stop blocking progress on the issues Americans have asked us to address,” noting House Democrats will continue to urge the Senate “to meet their responsibilities to their constituents and join us in sending legislation to the president for his signature.”

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