DC Digest – July 25, 2017

In Today’s Issue:
  • GI Bill Expands
  • Senate GOP Healthcare Bill Proceeds
  • Budget and Appropriations Update
  • DHS H-1B Premium Processing 
  • Countdown Clock

GI BILL EXPANSION

The House yesterday, July 24, passed bipartisan legislation that would expand the education benefits offered to veterans under the GI Bill.

Lawmakers voted 405-0 to pass legislation that would eliminate, for new enlistees, the current 15-year time limit veterans have to use their educational assistance under the GI Bill.

The bill would expand funding for veterans to enroll in non-traditional education providers like coding boot camps. It would also boost veterans’ educational assistance for National Guard and Reserve troops and for the dependents of fallen troops.

GI ‘Forever’ Bill

SENATE GOP HEALTH BILL ADVANCES TO FLOOR

Senate Republicans voted today, July 25, to advance to floor debate their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote. Two GOP senators — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — sided with Democrats in opposition.

The next step is floor debate on the legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act even though there aren’t any guarantees the votes are there to eventually pass it — and it’s unclear what a final bill will look like.

BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE

This week, appropriators will continue to work on a $789 billion spending package, which contains four appropriations measures, including both the FY18 energy and water and defense bills. The package could be on the House floor as early as July 26, setting the stage for floor debate. Several legislators warned, however, the measure could be ignored by the Senate, forcing another short-term stopgap measure in September to avoid a government shutdown.

The House Budget Committee approved its FY18 budget resolution last week, which sets FY18 non-defense and defense discretionary spending levels and includes instructions for tax reform. Under the plan “Building a Better America” defense spending would steadily increase over a ten-year period while non-defense discretionary spending would decline to $424 billion – a 23.5 percent decrease from the current spending level.

DHS LIFTS BAN ON PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR H-1B VISAS  

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced yesterday, July 24, it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions, including requests from universities and nonprofit organizations that conduct research or are affiliated with an institution of higher education.

COUNTDOWN CLOCK

There are 3 legislative days to go in the House and 13 in the Senate until the August recess.