Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of July 19, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of July 19, 2021

The House

The House is prepared to vote on five appropriations “minibus” packages this week, including Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Homeland Security, Legislative Branch, and State and Foreign Operations. The remaining bills are set to be taken up next week, including Agriculture-FDA, Energy and Water, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee will markup 12 bills this week, including paid family and medical leave for federal employees, software development, software engineering, and various cybersecurity and AI measures.

The House Foreign Affairs will also be busy this week. Its Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation will discuss U.S. and European cooperation in China and the Indo-Pacific. The Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee will consider peacebuilding efforts between Israel and Palestine. Additionally, the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy will hold a hearing on recent protests in Cuba calling for the end of its Communist, Authoritarian regime.

Cybersecurity continues to be the subject of several committees. The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will consider the growing threat of ransomware following the onslaught of cyberattacks in recent months. The House Small Business Committee will discuss the effects of cybersecurity issues on small businesses.

Diversity and equity issues are also top subjects for committees. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is holding a hearing on improving diversity and inclusion in the U.S. aviation workforce.  The House Science, Space, and Technology’s Energy Subcommittee will discuss fostering equity in energy Innovation and spectrum needs for observations in Earth and space sciences. The House Financial Services Committee will consider equitable housing infrastructure in America and HUD oversight.

The Senate

Though the White House and a bipartisan Senate cohort agreed to an infrastructure framework some weeks ago, no legislative text has been prepared and some Senators are starting to complain. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said this Sunday that conservatives’ distrust of the IRS has resulted in the removal of increased funding for improved tax collection as a way to pay for the plan. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) signaled that this provision could still be included in the Democrat-only $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan, which will include broader subjects than the largely traditional infrastructure-themed bipartisan framework.

Despite the lack of text, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will hold procedural cloture votes this week to advance both the bipartisan infrastructure and $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposals. Sen. Schumer plans will begin with the bipartisan infrastructure bill to start a 30-hour clock followed by a Wednesday vote. Senators would also vote on a budget resolution on the same day to begin the reconciliation process, which would require only a simple majority to eventually pass a Democrat-only spending bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said there is no way a bipartisan group can meet the Wednesday deadline and hopes Sen. Schumer will delay the cloture vote beyond this week.

Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee will begin closed-door consideration of the annual defense authorization bill. Though President Biden’s proposal calls for a 1.6% budget increase, the budget would actually decrease by 0.4% when adjusted for inflation. Key Republican Senators Jim Inhofe (OK) and Dan Sullivan (AK) want more defense funding. Additionally, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will likely push to include her legislation (S. 1520) to overhaul how the military prosecutes sexual assault, harassment, murder, and other major crimes. While two-thirds of the Senate once supported her bill, it has since stalled following comments by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley signaling that the bills’ changes might be too drastic.

Additionally, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is schedule to markup S.1275 to reauthorize the Family Violence and Prevention Services program through FY2026. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will discuss the effects of climate change, resilience, and reinsurance on 21st century communities.

Like the House, the Senate will also consider cybersecurity threats when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure.

The Administration

President Biden delivered remarks from the White House this week touting the $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending plan as essential to tackling the country’s most pressing economic issues stemming from the pandemic. He emphasized how the plan will create millions of jobs benefitting middle class families. He also tried to quell fears that spending under his Administration is what’s causing increased inflation, and urged Americans that his financial regulators would respond as needed. He also argued that the spending plan will boost productivity and wages to stave off any inflation.

The President also discussed the bipartisan infrastructure framework amidst its ongoing negotiations.

Becker’s Federal Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.