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On the Hill: Federal Spending, Immigration, New Committee Leadership

​As Congress takes a break this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, rumors continue to circulate about the future of an omnibus spending package that would fund the federal government for fiscal year 2015, which began Oct. 1. The government is currently operating under a funding extension through Dec. 11.

Republicans might rethink their strategy on the omnibus bill in light of President Obama’s recent executive order allowing up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary U.S. residency. It is uncertain if the president’s recent immigration action will cause Republicans to seek amendments to the omnibus spending package, scheduled for release Dec. 8. Also unclear is whether Congress will include the president’s funding request of $6.18 billion for Ebola preparedness in a final spending bill.

In committee business, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) won the top Democratic post—ranking member—on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He will replace current ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who will retire at the end of the current term. Pallone now serves as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) will continue as Energy and Commerce chair. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will take over as chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, replacing Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), who will retire at the end of the current term. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) will remain ranking member of Ways and Means.

In the Senate, Committee on Finance leaders Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will remain in place, however the two will swap titles: Hatch will become chair and Wyden will become the ranking member. On the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is expected to serve as the new chair, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is expected to serve as the new ranking member. Alexander is the current ranking member on the HELP committee. The most senior Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), will retire at the end of the current term.

 

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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