Washington, DC/Administration/Congress/Election 2016 Updates

Election 2016

According to FiveThirtyEight modeling based on current polling, Clinton has lost some of her lead over Trump and is projected to receive 47.0% of the popular vote with Donald Trump receiving 43.2% and Libertarian Gary Johnson, 8.5%. On Wednesday evening, both candidates attended a “Commander-in-Chief Forum” televised by NBC and hosted by Matt Lauer.

Milcon-VA Zika Appropriations Bill

The Senate for third time failed to advance $1.1b plan to address Zika virus. ATuesday procedural vote on H.R. 2577 to pass the bill with no amendments was 52-46, with 60 needed to advance. Senate Democrats continue to object to $750m in spending rescissions and language disqualifying Planned Parenthood from receiving public-health grants to treat women infected with the virus.

Stopgap Funding Bill

House Speaker Paul Ryan is scheduling special meeting of all House Republicans Friday to discuss continuing resolution, how long it would last and what would be included in stopgap spending measure.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is “hopeful” deal can be struck on stopgap spending and Zika funding, he tells reporters. Reid says he’s “willing to be patient” on continuing resolution, “but not on Zika” Democrats remain opposed to House-passed Zika funding bill and have already compromised on Zika funding, he says. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he hopes to have floor action in the Sept. 12 week on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until Dec. 9.

“I hope to be able to turn to it next week,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol after a weekly gathering of Senate Republicans. “That will depend on whether we can reach agreement with Senate Democrats and the White House on some of the matters that are in dispute.” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was hopeful a CR could be worked out with Republicans quickly. “They can’t close the government down,” Reid said. However, while he said Democrats were willing to be patient on some issues, that did not apply to funding to fight the spread of the Zika virus. “Zika is a disaster for America and the world,” he said.

Defense Policy Talks Progress

The leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees will meetThursday to try and iron out differences on the 2017 defense authorization measure, which would reauthorize national defense programs of the Pentagon and Energy Department for fiscal 2017

The House version, H.R. 4909, would use $18 billion from the overseas contingency fund (OCO), not subject to budget caps, to increase funding for high-profile aircraft and ship programs. That means that the war fund would run out in the spring. The Senate bill, S. 2943, doesn’t use the same funding mechanism. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain of Arizona supports more funding for high-profile programs. He wasn’t able to get an amendment adopted to add $18 billion to the war-fighting fund when the Senate considered the defense authorization bill.

Authorizing total defense funding for fiscal year 2017 remains the thorniest issue for the conferees — and the quickest way to a presidential veto. That also means that defense authorizers may have to wait for the defense spending bill to be resolved before they’re able to strike a final deal on the policy bill. While the House defense appropriations bill, H.R. 5293, also taps into war funds to fund high-profile weapons programs, the Senate Appropriations-approved version, S. 3000, found $15 billion in savings to boost the same programs without tapping into the war funds.

Senators Seek Smooth Ride for WRDA Water Bill

As lawmakers wrestle over a short-term government funding measure and money to fight the Zika virus, in the Senate at least, they’re coming together over legislation to authorize Army Corps of Engineers projects and other water infrastructure improvements.

With the Senate yesterday adopting the motion to proceed to the waterways measure by voice vote, Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is predicting the chamber will pass the bill next week and said tomorrow would be the deadline for filing amendments. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said his party would allow the bill to proceed and that he’d heard that that seven or eight amendments had been proposed.

House to Vote on 9/11 Lawsuit Bill Opposed by Saudi Arabia

The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote this week on Senate-passed legislation that would allow families of the Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for liability in the attacks. Representative Peter King of New York, the House sponsor of the measure, said in an interview that the House is likely to vote on Friday and send the measure to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Saudi Arabia objects to the bill, S. 2040, and the White House has said it’s “strongly opposed.” A White House official said Wednesday that Obama’s opposition to the bill remains steadfast even as it appears to being moving toward passage. If the House passes the measure by an overwhelming margin and Obama vetoes it, it could set up the first successful veto override of his administration. The White House has said it opposes the bill because of potential threats against U.S. servicemembers and diplomats abroad if the international principle of sovereign immunity is weakened.

John Zang Contributed to this report

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