Government affairs

Legislative Updates

What’s on Congress’ agenda until July 16?

With the remaining legislative days that Congress has left in Washington—before members return to their districts to focus on re-election campaigns—there are several “must do” items to accomplish before anyone boards a plane home.

Puerto Rico:  After amassing $72 billion in debt that it is unable to pay back, and constitutionally prohibited from declaring bankruptcy, Puerto Rico turned to Congress for help. In response, House and Senate lawmakers are continuing to work to address how to restructure the U.S. territory’s debt and whether to appoint a financial oversight board. There continue to be concerns regarding such an oversight board and regarding potential legislation’s exemption of thousands of workers from overtime protections, retirees’ pension benefits and the minimum wage.

FAA reauthorization:  The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) funding runs out on July 15, and the House and Senate continue to debate reauthorizing the agency. In April, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a long-term reauthorization measure, while House consideration fizzled out over the issue of privatization of the air traffic control system—a contentious issue that’s not expected to be resolved. Both chambers will continue to try to find a path forward, but the agency is likely to see a short-term funding extension for now.

Zika virus funding:  Nearly four months ago, the Obama administration issued a $1.9 billion Zika virus funding request. In May, the Senate passed a $1.1 billion Zika virus emergency spending measure as part of the military construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. The same day, the House passed legislation to provide $622 million to combat the virus for the remaining three months of Fiscal Year 2016. The House bill pulls funds from other health and foreign-aid spending, while the Senate package has no offsets or expiration date. We can expect more back-and-forth on this issue until an adequate resolution is found.

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