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Legislative Update

Senate. The Senate will continue to consider nominations. A small group of Senators, including Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), has been working over the holiday break on a proposal to revise U.S. immigration and border policy, with the goal of attaching the policy changes to a supplemental appropriations bill for Ukraine and Israel. Senator Lankford said he’s hopeful a deal can be unveiled this week, and Senate Republicans are reportedly planning to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue.

House. On Jan. 6, Speaker Mike Johnson invited President Biden to deliver his State of the Union address on March 7, and the President accepted. The House will begin legislative business on Wednesday, including a vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution dealing with domestic sourcing requirements for electric vehicle chargers. The resolution would strike a waiver that the Administration granted from Buy America requirements for EV charger materials. The resolution, which was approved by the Senate 50-48 in November, is expected to be vetoed if it clears the House.

FY 2024 Spending. The top-line spending agreement for FY 2024 that was announced Sunday night is a major breakthrough toward enacting appropriations bills, but many lawmakers are skeptical that the spending measures can be enacted before the upcoming Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 deadlines. Even though Speaker Johnson has vowed that the House will not pass any more short-term continuing resolutions, it may be that more CRs, possibly through March 1, are needed to keep the government open.

The Jan. 7 agreement largely adheres to the numbers that were part of the debt limit agreement from May, with a top-line number of $1.59 trillion that includes $886 billion for defense. The parties differ, though, on their portrayals of the spending for non-defense programs. Republicans point to a non-defense number of $704 billion; Democrats say they secured $773 billion for non-defense, which includes an additional $69 billion, the same amount that was included in a side agreement to the debt limit deal.

House and Senate appropriators must now apportion the top-line spending amounts among the 12 individual appropriations bills, craft legislation that comports to those numbers, and see if their legislative efforts will pass both chambers. First on the agenda are the four appropriations bills that have a Jan. 19 deadline – Agriculture/FDA, Military Construction/VA, Energy and Water, and Transportation/HUD. Members of the House Freedom Caucus have already announced their opposition to the top-line number, so passing appropriations bills with only Republican votes does not appear to be an option. Consequently, the measures are likely to be cleared in the House under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority.

The current party breakdown in the House is 220 Rs/213Ds with two vacancies (Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy and George Santos). House Majority Leader Steve Scalise is undergoing a stem cell transplant and will be absent from the House until sometime in February. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) will resign his seat on Jan. 21.

Committee Action of Note

Wednesday, January 10

  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Hearing: “Protecting Clean American Energy Production and Jobs by Stopping EPA’s Overreach”
  • House Homeland Security Committee Hearing: “Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas’ Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets Hearing: “Examining the DOL Fiduciary Rule: Implications for Retirement Savings and Access”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Hearing: “Regulatory Whiplash: Examining the Impact of FSOC’s Ever-Changing Designation Framework on Innovation”

Thursday, January 11

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing to examine Federal Electric Vehicle Incentives, including the Federal Government’s Role in Fostering Reliable and Resilient Electric Vehicle Supply Chains
  • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing: “Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: Public Awareness and Legislative Solutions”
  • House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Hearing: “The Impact of Illegal Immigration on Social Services”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing: “Examining the Biden Administration’s Limits on Access to the OCS: Impacts on Consumers, States, and Operators”
  • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Hearing: “Exploitation and Enforcement Part II: Improving Enforcement in Countering Uyghur Forced Labor”
  • House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Hearing: “Lowering Costs and Increasing Access to Health Care with Employer-Driven Innovation”

Political Update

House Special Elections

  • NY-3. On Feb. 13, voters will elect a replacement for Rep. George Santos (R), who was expelled from the House on Dec. 1. The nominees, chosen by party leaders, are former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip, a Republican member of the Nassau County Legislature. The race is rated as a toss-up.
  • OH-6. Rep. Bill Johnson (R) will resign Jan. 21 to become president of Youngstown State University. A special primary will be held March 19, followed by a special general election on June 11. The filing deadline for the special election is Jan. 19. The seat is expected to remain in Republican hands.
  • CA-20. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) resigned Dec. 31, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) today scheduled a special primary election for March 19 and a special election on May 21. California does not hold party primaries; rather, the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, would advance to the special general election. If a candidate were to win a majority of votes in the primary, he or she would be declared the winner, and there would be no need for a special general election. The seat is expected to remain Republican.
  • NY-26. Rep. Brian Higgins (D) will resign in early February to become president and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) must call a special election within 10 days of being notified of a vacancy and the election must take place between 70 and 80 days from that announcement. There will be no primary as party leaders will choose their nominees.

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