United States: Fox On The Hill - June 27, 2016

Democrats

Hillary Clinton is said to be getting to the final stages of vetting her Vice Presidential choices. Insiders say the top three candidates are Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Wall Street, however, has balked at the idea of Warren as the Vice Presidential choice and has started to withhold campaign dollars as a sign of its stance.

Republicans

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rolled out the final two parts—taxes and health care—of the House GOP's "Confident America" agenda. The tax portion is focused on providing a platform for fundamental tax reform. This includes establishing three individual income tax brackets and lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from its current 35 percent. The tax plan differs significantly from Donald Trump's plan of a top tax rate of 25 percent for individuals and 15 percent for businesses.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced last week that he would run for a second term in the Senate. His change of heart turns Florida from a solid toss-up Senate race to a race that favors the GOP holding onto the seat.

Financial Services

While testifying before the House Financial Services Committee last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that she is open to working with House Republicans on their efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller banks in return for their increasing their holding capital.

Foreign Relations and ISIS

Last Thursday, the "Brexit" vote occurred, and the British people voted to leave the European Union. The decision led Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the "Remain" campaign, to announce his resignation effective in October. The vote to "leave" was won by a small margin: 52 percent to 48 percent. President Obama announced the decision will not affect the "special relationship" between the United States and the U.K.

Closer to home, the U.S. Treasury Department and the leaders of Puerto Rico are urging the Senate to move quickly on a bill to help Puerto Rice handle its $70 billion in unpayable debt. The deadline for payment is July 1.

Gun Policy

The Senate failed to pass the four gun control measures put on the floor following Senator Chris Murphy's (D-CT) filibuster. Two of the bills were sponsored by Democrats and two were sponsored by Republicans, yet all failed along party line votes.

Following the failed vote, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a bill that may get bipartisan support. The legislation grants the Department of Justice the right to bar people on two federal terrorist lists from buying guns. A bipartisan group of House members introduced companion legislation in the House and demanded that Speaker Ryan bring it to the floor for an immediate vote.

Since the House does not have a filibuster rule, Democrats employed an unorthodox tactic, declaring a sit-in on the House Floor, disrupting the legislative business of the House. The sit-in ended after 25-hours and resulted in the House adjourning a day early for the Independence Day recess period. The House will reconvene on July 5.

Labor

The proposed changes to the overtime rule from the Department of Labor have raised concerns for businesses of all sizes across America. The largest change concerns salaried employees earning under $47,476, who will now be eligible for overtime pay. Currently the salary threshold is $23,660. It is estimated the updates to the rule will allow approximately five million new workers to be eligible for overtime pay. Businesses will be permitted to claim exemption for certain employees if the employee: 1) is paid a fixed salary; 2) is paid a salary that meets a minimum salary; 3) carries out work associated with administrative, executive, outside sales, professional or computer duties. The changes are scheduled to go into effect December 1, 2016.

Telecommunications

The Senate voted down a measure last week that would have granted the Federal Bureau of Investigations the power to access a person's internet browsing history, email account data and other electronic communications without a court order in terrorism and espionage cases. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) proposed the measure.

Trade

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is expected to pass this year during the lame-duck session—following the November election—according to a top Obama economic adviser.

Transportation

House leadership indicated this past week that they are considering a vote on a two-month extension of the Federal Aviation Administration authorities. This will allow members to return to their districts during the regularly scheduled August district work period while staff in Washington, D.C. continue to work on a compromise that would be voted on in September. The current FAA authorization expires on July 15..

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court handed down decisions last week in a number of cases, including a case regarding President Obama's executive actions on immigration. The Court was deadlocked 4-4, which effectively upheld a lower court's ruling that blocked the programs from going into effect and returned the case to the lower court.

In another decision, the Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas' affirmative action plan that takes race into consideration in its admissions decisions.

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