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Legislative Update

Senate. The Senate will begin the week by considering additional nominations, an ongoing process some have dubbed the nom-a-rama, and then is expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also eyeing the NDAA as a vehicle to carry the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a wide-ranging proposal designed to bolster competitiveness with China. Among other things, USICA would increase research and development in emerging technologies and strengthen the U.S supply chain.

USICA was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in June, 68-32, but the House has taken a different approach. Because the NDAA is viewed as legislation that must be enacted this year, adding USICA to the NDAA bill will force the House to find common ground with the Senate as part of the conference committee negotiations that will take place once the Senate passes the NDAA. The House passed its version of NDAA in September.

House. The House will vote on a number of non-controversial bills under suspension of the rules as Members await a vote at the end of the week on the Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation bill.

Reconciliation. The Congressional Budget Office said this afternoon that it plans to release a complete cost estimate of the BBB by the end of the day on Friday, Nov. 19. CBO has already provided estimates for a number of the individual titles of the bill, but it won’t be until Friday that the estimates for one of the more controversial sections of the bill, the drug pricing provisions, will be released. House leadership has not yet announced when the House will vote on the bill.

Assuming the reconciliation measure does pass the House, it’s also unclear when the Senate will take up the bill. In a letter to his colleagues on Sunday, Majority Leader Schumer said his office is working with the Senate parliamentarian and House and Senate committees on the so-called “privilege scrub,” a process that is necessary to ensure that the House bill meets all the requirements to be a reconciliation bill and maintain its status as “privileged” legislation in the Senate. Schumer hopes the scrubbing can be finished this week and that a separate process will begin this week to ensure that provisions comport with the Byrd rule.

One provision that will no doubt be debated during Byrd Bath discussions with the parliamentarian is the House’s drug pricing proposal, in particular the language that would set inflation caps on prescription drug prices for both Medicare and private insurance plans. If the cost of a drug rises faster than inflation, the House bill provides that the manufacturer would have to pay a rebate to the government or face a penalty. In addition to the privilege scrub and the Byrd Bath, Schumer will also be negotiating with individual Senators to see what changes will be needed to the House bill to win their support.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, November 16:
    • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Hearing: "Plugging in Public Lands: Transmission Infrastructure for Renewable Energy."
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Hearing: “Rebuilding Coast Guard Infrastructure to Sustain and Enhance Mission Capability.”
    • House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit: “A Look at the Renewable Economy in Rural America.”
    • Senate Finance Committee Hearing to examine the nominations of Lisa Wang to be an Assistant Secretary and Maria Lago to be Under Secretary for International Trade, both of the Department of Commerce.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change: “Securing America’s Future: Supply Chain Solutions for a Clean Energy Economy.”
    • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security: “On the Frontlines in Turbulent Times: Workforce Perspectives on the State of Transportation Security.”
    • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy Hearing: “The Biden Administration’s Policy Priorities for Latin America and the Caribbean.”
  • Wednesday, November 17:
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Business meeting to consider the nominations of Alanna McCargo to be President, Government National Mortgage Association, and James Arthur Jemison II and Elizabeth de Leon Bhargava, both to be an Assistant Secretary, all of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Arun Venkataraman to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service.
    • House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Hearing: “Trade Policy and Priorities.”
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy Hearing: “Fostering a New Era of Fusion Energy Research and Technology Development.”
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Business Meeting to consider legislation and the nominations of Laurie E. Locascio to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, Max Vekich to be a Federal Maritime Commissioner, and Christopher A. Coes to be an Assistant Secretary of Transportation, to be immediately followed by a hearing to examine the nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission, Alvaro M. Bedoya to be a Federal Trade Commissioner, and Jainey Kumar Bavishi to be Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Arun Venkataraman to be Assistant Secretary and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, both of the Department of Commerce.
    • House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Hearing: “Examining the Implementation of COVID-19 Education Funds.”
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Hearing: “U.S. Role in Global COVID-19 Vaccine Equity.”
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: “Industry and Labor Perspectives: A Further Look at North American Supply Chain Challenges.”
    • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Governmental Operations and Border Management hearing to examine security, trade, and travel flows at the Southwest border ports of entry, focusing on the Federal government perspective.
    • Joint Economic Committee Hearing to examine cryptocurrency, focusing on digital assets and the role of government.
  • Thursday, November 18:
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology Hearing: Weathering the Storm: Reauthorizing the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearing to examine the nomination of Saule T. Omarova to be Comptroller of the Currency.
    • Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues Hearing to examine vaccine diplomacy in Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the importance of U.S. engagement.

Political Update

Senate Races. With his announcement today that he will not seek re-election in 2022, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joins five others who plan to retire from the upper body. The five, all Republicans, are Senators Richard Burr (N.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and Roy Blunt (Mo.). The only two Senators who have not announced their re-election plans are Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). In other election news, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced Nov. 9 that he would seek a fourth term as governor and not challenge Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan next year.

Florida House Race. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a healthcare executive, is likely to take a seat in Congress next year as the Representative from Florida’s 20th Congressional District. In the Democratic primary for the seat held by the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D), Cherfilus-McCormick came out five votes ahead of Dale Holness in a field of 11 candidates. The general election will be Jan. 11.

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