Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of May 17, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of May 17, 2021

The House

Last week, the House Republican Conference removed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership post. Rep. Cheney was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

This week, the House is expected to establish a commission on the January 6 attack on the Capitol and to vote on a supplemental spending bill for U.S. Capitol Security. Homeland Security Chairman Bernie Thompson (D-MS) and John Katko (R-NY) reached an agreement on H.R. 3233 to create a 10-person panel to conduct the investigation and make recommendations. Each party’s leadership would make five appointments to the panel; Democrats would appoint the chair and Republicans the vice chair; subpoenas would require bipartisan support. Tuesday morning, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced his opposition to such a commission.

House Democrats’ spending bill, H.R. 3237, would bolster Capitol security and include funds for retractable fencing, body cameras, and a “Quick Reaction Force” for Capitol police. The proposal will total a reported $1.9 billion. However, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he didn’t want to rush such a decision, emphasizing that while security measures must be taken, they must be smart investments and maintain that the Capitol, a symbol of our democracy, remains open and accessible to the public and does not feel like a militarized zone.

Relatedly, the House Administration Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday on changes to the Capitol Police.

House Republicans will introduce legislation this week to authorize the spending of more than $400 billion over five years for surface transportation programs. Alternatively, Democrats plan to use a $500 billion proposal from the last Congress as the groundwork for their surface transportation bill.

Additionally, there are a number of scheduled markups this week. Most notably, the House Homeland Security Committee will consider a pipeline security measure. Further, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the US-Afghanistan relationship following U.S. military withdrawal from the region. The House will also debate bills concerning veterans and the STEM workforce.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee will discuss drug prices with testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee will hold a hearing on automobile technologies.

The Senate

The Senate will resume consideration for a motion to proceed with the Endless Frontier Act. The bipartisan Act went through markup last week. It authorizes the spending of more than $100 billion over five years to increase research and development of technologies and manufacturing of new, innovative technologies. It is also expected to include $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing. The goal is to boost domestic U.S. innovation, creating a foothold in emerging technologies that will allow the U.S. to compete with China’s dominance in those fields.

Additionally, Senate Republicans proposed their response to President Biden’s infrastructure plan last week, and will meet again with President Biden this week on a revised plan as both sides prepare for a bipartisan deal.

The Senate and its subcommittees will hold a number of confirmation hearings this week. Mainly, the Senate Armed Services Committee will consider Army Gen. Paul LaCamera to be commander of the UN Command/Combined Forces Command/US Forces Korea. Additionally, the Senate Intelligence Committee will consider nominees for general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and for Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research.

The Senate will also host hearings on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights related to hospital consolidation; narrowing the tax gap and improving taxpayer services; and to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. Additionally, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on bolstering American Infrastructure.

The Administration

In a large bipartisan effort, 96 lawmakers have asked U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to pursue a trade agreement with Canada over softwood lumber. Lumber costs have been rising, and this issue was discussed in hearings last week when Ms. Tai testified regarding the Administration’s trade agenda.

President Biden announced that the U.S. will send 20 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine abroad by the end of June.

As violence between Israel and Gaza increases, President Biden has called for an end to the attacks but has stopped short of demanding a ceasefire. On Monday, however, 29 Senate Democrats wrote a letter urging an immediate ceasefire.

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.