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Road ahead: Will Congress get a disaster relief deal before Memorial Day?

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The big question for the week is whether Congress will actually act on long-awaited disaster relief before lawmakers head out for Memorial Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said such a vote is on the floor agenda for this week, but as senators left Thursday afternoon for the weekend, there was still no final agreement on any bipartisan package.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and McConnell have agreed to huddle this week with President Donald Trump's administration to discuss spending levels for fiscal 2020, as well as debt limit legislation, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations.

McConnell met May 16 with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The meeting broached disaster aid, the debt limit and spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year, according to Alabama GOP Sen. Richard C. Shelby, the Senate Appropriations chairman.

"A lot of the emphasis was on spending caps because we're looking at disaster, we've been playing with that too long, and if we finish this we've got to go to approps, which is much bigger," Shelby said after speaking with McConnell.

 

As for the House floor, the focus this week will be on financial services matters, with the chamber set to vote on legislation from House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters that would reverse the changes made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since Trump took office.

The measure would require consumer complaint data be made publicly available. Trump appointees reduced the size and scope of some public reports.

Democrats have criticized Trump's handling of the CFPB, starting with his appointment of Mulvaney to run it as acting director in November 2017. Taking over from the agency's first director, Obama appointee Richard Cordray, Mulvaney slowed regulatory initiatives and suspended some enforcement.

The bill would reinstitute memoranda of understanding between the bureau and the Department of Education on data sharing and complaint response collaboration terminated in 2017. The bill would reestablish the Office of Students and Young Consumers, which Mulvaney folded into the Office of Financial Education in May 2018.

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