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Daily Policy Note for December 15, 2014

Weekly GOP Address

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) Delivers GOP Address On Republican Solutions For Working Families: In the Weekly Republican Address, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina looks ahead to the start of the 114th Congress when both houses of Congress will be controlled by Republicans. Scott says Republicans must work to regain the trust of the American people and that the best way to do that is through an agenda that focuses on jobs and the economy.

GOP Committee News

HELP: Alexander Opposes Obama Nominee for Surgeon General: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said he opposes President Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, citing the nominee’s lack of public health and management experience as well as his advocacy for gun control legislation that would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Inhofe: Inhofe Praises Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for 53rd Consecutive Year: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today praised the Senate passage of H.R. 3979, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2015. Inhofe coauthored the legislation with SASC Chairman Carl Levin, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA-25), and HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA-9) It now awaits to be signed into law by the president.

Today’s Headlines

Wall Street Journal: Senate Weekend Work Sped a Slew of Nominations, Including Vivek Murthy: As Senate Republicans and Democrats sparred in a 10-hour session Saturday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) took the opportunity to advance a long list of presidential nominees toward confirmation later this week, including the Obama administration’s once-threatened nominee for U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy.

Second Opinion

US News: Medicaid Wrapped In an Obamacare Bow: It’s time to shop for Christmas gifts, and it’s also time to shop for health insurance. It’s open enrollment again for Obamacare, this time for 2015 coverage. Analysts will carefully count the new enrollments, and the number will become another talking point for proponents of the law who promised that it would significantly expand private health insurance coverage.

New Polling Numbers

Gallup: 2014 U.S. Approval of Congress Remains Near All-Time Low: Americans' job approval rating for Congress averaged 15% in 2014, close to the record-low yearly average of 14% found last year. The highest yearly average was measured in 2001, at 56%. Yearly averages haven't exceeded 20% in the past five years, as well as in six of the past seven years.

Red Tape Review

Wall Street Journal: Internet Tax Reprieve: A legislative hostage has been released—at least until next October. Buried inside Congress’s omnibus spending bill is an extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act through the end of the 2015 fiscal year. Most gratifying for consumers is that this ban on Internet access taxes has not been bundled with a separate plan to boost sales tax collections for goods purchased online.


@SenatorWicker: The spending bill passed tonight holds the Admin more accountable & makes smart choices about using taxpayer dollars:

@JohnCornyn: A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress - …

Floor Schedule for Monday, December 15, 2014

Today, the Senate is in session.

The Senate will next convene at 10:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

Following the Leaders’ remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the following:

  1. Executive Calendar #681, Vivek Hallegere Murthy, of Massachusetts, to be Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the Public Health Service, and to be Surgeon General of the Public Health Service for a term of four years;
  2. Executive Calendar #979, Daniel Santos, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board for a term expiring October 18, 2017;
  3. Executive Calendar #635, Frank A. Rose, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance);
  4. Executive Calendar #1084, Sarah R. Saldana, of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security; and
  5. Executive Calendar #1150, Antony Blinken, of New York, to be Deputy Secretary of State.

5:30 p.m.

There will be up to four VOTES on:

  1. Cloture on Executive Calendar #681 (Murthy);
  2. If cloture is invoked, confirmation of Executive Calendar #681;
  3. Cloture on Executive Calendar #979 (Santos); and
  4. Cloture on Executive Calendar #635 (Rose).

Key House Action

Today, the House is in session.

House Passes Responsible Spending Bill, Sets Up Challenge on Immigration: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after the House passed responsible legislation to keep the government running “With a bipartisan vote, the House has passed a responsible bill to keep the government running and address the American people’s priorities.  This measure puts us on track to save taxpayers more than $2.1 trillion while protecting jobs and supporting our national defense.   In addition, by the House’s action, we are setting up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration next month, when there will be new Republican majorities in both chambers.  The Senate should act on this bipartisan legislation in short order.”