Becker’s Washington Weekly: March 8, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: March 8, 2021

THE HOUSE
The House is back in session for four days of votes this week. At the top of the agenda will be the $1.9 trillion relief bill which the Senate, after some delay, passed over the weekend. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the bill could pass as early as Tuesday afternoon; it is likely to secure final passage on a strictly party line vote, with no Republicans expected to support it. Barring any last-minute surprises, Democratic Leadership is close to passing the first major piece of legislation – as well as securing the first big political victory – for the Biden Administration. Democrats had set March 14th (the expiration date of unemployment benefits programs) as the deadline to pass the latest relief package and are very close to meeting it.

In addition to voting on the relief bill, there are a number of relevant committee hearings this week including:

  • Small Business Committee hearing titled “The Interaction Between the Paycheck Protection Program and Federal Acquisition Rules: What it Means for Government Contractors” on Tuesday
  • Small Business Committee hearing on “Next Steps for the Paycheck Protection Program” on Wednesday
  • Appropriations Committee hearing on “Innovation and Investment in Water Resources Infrastructure” also on Wednesday
  • Committee on Ways and Means hearing titled “Tax Tools to Help Local Governments” on Thursday

THE SENATE
After a long delay during the “vote-a-rama” late last week, the Senate passed their version of the American Rescue Plan. The delay was caused when Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) signaled he intended to support a Republican amendment to the bill substantially changing a key unemployment insurance provision that was the result of a deal reached between progressive and moderate Democrats. After negotiations, all parties agreed to adjust the per week supplemental unemployment insurance from $400 to $300 through September, rather than August. Though progressive House Democrats will likely be against the change, the bill is still expected to pass.

With the American Rescue Plan passed, the Senate is expected to advance more executive branch nominations this week, including Merrick Garland for Attorney General, Marcia Fudge for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Michael Regan for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Judiciary Committee is also expected to take up the nominations of Lisa Monaco (Deputy Attorney General) and Vanita Gupta (Associate Attorney General) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on Shalanda Young’s nomination to serve as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

THE ADMINISTRATION
As the first major bill of his Administration works its way through the legislative process and his executive nominations advance at a slower than usual pace through the Senate, President Joe Biden and his team are preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of many Americans entering some form of quarantine. (The President will mark the occasion by delivering his first primetime address to the nation on Thursday, March 11th.) Monday afternoon, the President and VA Secretary Denis McDonough visited the Washington, D.C. VA medical facility to oversee vaccinations.

The President, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivered remarks on International Women’s Day, March 8th. Vice President Harris also spoke at the National League of Cities conference Monday afternoon.

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.