Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of September 12, 2022

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of September 12, 2022

The House

All of D.C. is back in action this week with the House returning to session following its August and Labor Day recesses. House members have been scrambling to put together text for a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running through September 30 to avoid a shutdown.

One issue that could derail the process is opposition from progressives over attaching a provision easing energy permitting to the stopgap. While these Members haven’t threatened to vote against the bill, the risk of defecting votes could jeopardize the bill’s passage given Democrats’ narrow margins in the House.

House lawmakers also have a busy legislative schedule apart from the appropriations bill, and will hold floor votes this week on over a dozen bills including those that would protect federal civilian servants from political influence, expand educational and vocational benefits at the VA, and create a Transportation Department grant program to incorporate drones in critical infrastructure projects and workforce training programs.

The House will hold a number of hearings this week, including the following:

  • The House Small Business Committee will discuss the impact of a right to repair on entrepreneurs.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee will discuss the future of U.S.-Taiwan trade.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee will discuss ways to secure industrial control systems against cyberattacks.

The Senate

The Senate is also in session this week, and has a number of nominations and bills to take up, namely the Chamber’s version of the government funding bill which has caused some friction within the Democratic caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to attach language easing energy permitting to the Senate’s stopgap funding measure – something President Biden had approved. However, that deal cost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) to withdraw his support for the bill which will require Democrats to pick up an extra Republican vote to cover the deficit and pass the bill.

In the meantime, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading the charge to pass a marriage equality bill and codify it into federal statutory law with the help of at least 10 Republicans. At issue is whether the trio can get the bill passed as a standalone to avoid attaching it to the stopgap funding measure which is likely to expire in mid-December. The earliest Leader Schumer could invoke cloture on the measure is the end of this week.

The Senate will also hold a number of hearings this week:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from a Twitter whistleblower on data security risks at the company.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing to examine the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak.
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will examine social media’s impact on homeland security.

The Administration

President Biden has a busy week of travel ahead of him, beginning with his Monday trip to Boston’s Logan Airport to discuss the continuing rollout of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He’ll also speak at the Kennedy Library about the Administration’s revived Cancer Moonshot initiative. At the end of the week, he’ll travel with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II which will be held on September 19.

The Biden Administration is also taking steps to curb U.S. entanglements with certain Chinese manufacturing. First, President Biden is set to sign an executive order aiming to help expand U.S. biomanufacturing to help create drugs, human tissue, biofuels, etc. Second, the Commerce Department is set to publish new rules imposing restrictions on U.S. exportations of AI-based semiconductors to China.