Becker’s Washington Weekly: June 21, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: June 21, 2021

Washington Weekly banner, with the federal capital building roof in the background.THE HOUSE

This week, the House will consider three Congressional Review Act resolutions to overturn Trump-era regulations. The resolutions have already passed the Senate and are supported by the White House:

  • S.J. Res 13 will nullify an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rule which provides employers with information to resolve discrimination claims outside court;
  • S.J. Res. 14 will cancel an EPA rule which rolled back Obama-era methane monitoring and leak-repair rules for oil and gas production facilities;
  • S.J. Res. 15 will void a rule from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency which applies federal standards on interest rates over (possibly stricter) state rules.

Appropriations bills are scheduled for markup this week, as are six antitrust bills targeting large tech companies. Centrist Democrats have called on party leadership to delay consideration of the antitrust bills to allow for more research and expert testimony. The House will also vote on H.R. 3684 to authorize $547B over five year for surface transportation infrastructure programs, which would increase funding for passenger rail, public transit, and carbon reduction. This includes earmark requests.

The House will consider additional legislation requiring financial institutions to inquire whether business owners seeking credit self-identify as LGBTQ+, whether to exempt women receiving VA health care services from paying copays for contraceptives, and for changing the burden of proof for workplace age- or disability-related discrimination claims. The House will also examine legislation that would exempt prisoners younger than 22 years old from limiting their ability to challenge prison conditions in federal court.

The House will hold numerous hearings, including:

  • House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus crisis will hear testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell concerning the Fed’s emerging lending programs;
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee will discuss the Biden Administration’s efforts to deepen U.S. engagement in the Caribbean; and
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider President Biden’s FY22 budget requests through agency policies and perspectives.

THE SENATE

Senate Democrats will hold a vote to advance S.1, the For the People Act, a sweeping voting-rights bill which is divided on party lines. The Act aims to expand voting access in response to what Democrats say are restrictive voting-rights bills enacted in Republican-led states in response to former President Trump’s November 2020 defeat.

Though Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) previously signaled he would not support the legislation, he has since negotiated a scaled-down version of the bill to garner enough bipartisan support to surpass a filibuster. Notable Democratic leaders such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Stacey Abrams support Sen. Manchin’s compromise. However, despite Sen. Manchin’s efforts to advance the bill this week, it will likely not survive a Republican filibuster.

Additionally, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up 12 measures this week, one of which is a joint resolution to repeal the 2002 authorizations that allowed military force in Iraq.

The Senate will also hold numerous hearings this week, including:

  • Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to consider D.C. statehood;
  • Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss (1) federal sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine convictions and (2) immigration and citizenship policies for U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families;
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation to evaluate (1) aviation infrastructure and (2) building resilient networks;
  • Senate Armed Services Committee to examine ransomware attacks;
  • Senate Finance Committee to explore the strategic benefits of a multilateral approach trade policy in the Asia-Pacific region;
  • Senate Appropriations Committee to review the Department of Energy’s FY22 budget proposal; and
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee to assess infrastructure needs.

THE ADMINISTRATION

President Biden is set to review a new $579B proposal issued last week by a group of 20 bipartisan Senators, including Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Manchin, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

However, the President opposes paying for the plan by indexing the gas tax to inflation or taxing electric vehicles’ miles travelled. Sen. Sanders, who is the Senate Budget Committee Chairman, also opposes both “pay-fors”, and Sens. Tester and Portman specifically oppose indexing the gas tax to inflation. However, Sen. Portman, the plan’s lead GOP negotiator, supports paying for the plan with unspent COVID-19 relief dollars which Democrats oppose.

Apart from its original proposed tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses, the Administration has also proposed improving IRS tax collection enforcement to fund $700B of the bill. President Biden announced he will respond to the proposal later this week.

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.