Becker’s Washington Weekly: July 5, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: July 5, 2021

THE HOUSE & SENATE

Both Chambers of Congress are on recess this week following the July 4th holiday.

It has now been six months since the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and fears of future attacks on both the Capitol and members of Congress remain. In response, D.C. Capitol Police is enhancing security for members who reside outside of the D.C. area, and will open field offices in Florida and California to investigate threats made against members. Capitol Police has improved information-sharing efforts with officers and expanded training measures.

The Problem Solvers Caucus announced its support for the Senate bipartisan infrastructure framework, giving it an added layer of support in the House amid a broader and ongoing surface transportation reauthorization process. The group, comprised of 58 bipartisan representatives, wants a standalone vote on this bill to ensure it is not tied to a Democrat-only reconciliation effort which has threatened to derail the bipartisan framework.

THE ADMINISTRATION

U.S. forces continued their withdrawal from Afghanistan over the weekend by turning over Bagram Air Base to the Afghan government. The move marks the end of 20 years of operations in the region. The Pentagon announced it expects a total U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of August 2021. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) expressed his concern that U.S. troop withdrawal could lead to Afghanistan once again becoming a home for terrorists, particularly fearing the expansion of the Taliban in the country.

Cybersecurity concerns continue to linger after Russia-linked hackers reportedly attacked Kaseya, Ltd’s IT systems last week. Kaseya, a Miami-based firm, creates IT management software used by companies across the world. The hack shut down stores worldwide, but the overall scope of the attack is still unknown. The National Security Council announced there is no critical threat to U.S. infrastructure. The hackers are demanding a $70M ransom be paid in bitcoin to release stolen company and customer data. The U.S. government discourages the payment of ransoms because doing so motivates further cyberattacks.

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland placed a moratorium on federal executions, overturning a Trump-era reversal by then-Attorney General Bill Barr which resulted in 13 executions. Attorney General Garland’s move is reflective of President Biden’s pledge to abolish the death penalty.

As air travel reaches pre-pandemic levels, the U.S. Department of Transportation is set to implement a rule requiring airlines to refund certain passenger fees for undelivered services. Particularly, it will mandate refunds of luggage fees if there are significant delays in delivering luggage to its destination (within 12 hours of arrival for domestic travel and 25 hours for international travel), and of service fees such as those for advanced seat selection, in-flight entertainment, and in-flight Wi-Fi if passengers do not receive those services.

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.