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Legislative Update

Senate. In addition to considering nominations, the Senate is planning to pass the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was crafted by a House-Senate conference committee. With the Senate scheduled to adjourn Dec. 15 for the rest of the year, there is also the possibility that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could try again to bring up legislation providing emergency aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, but the bill’s fate is currently resting on the outcome of negotiations over proposals to strengthen U.S.-Mexico border policy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will meet tomorrow with President Biden, will address a meeting of all Senators at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and will also meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson.

House. The House is planning to pass the NDAA conference report over the objections of a number of Republicans who oppose the bill’s clean extension of provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The NDAA measure provides an extension until April 19 of the FISA Section 702 program, which expires at the end of this year, but hardline conservatives believe an extension should only come with significant reforms. Given this opposition in his party ranks, Speaker Johnson plans to avoid a floor vote on a rule for the NDAA bill and instead pass it under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. In a Dear Colleague letter on Dec. 7, Johnson pledged that the House would vote this week on two competing FISA reform bills – one from the Intelligence Committee and one from the Judiciary Committee. The measure that gets the most votes will be considered the House position.

Three other bills on the suspension calendar are also of note. One would extend through March 8 FAA programs that must be reauthorized by Dec. 31. Assuming House passage, the Senate is expected to approve the bill later this week. Also being considered under suspension is legislation that would ban the importation of Russian uranium and the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act that packages various healthcare proposals. Under regular order, the House could vote Wednesday on a resolution to formalize the impeachment inquiry of President Biden. The House is planning to adjourn Thursday and reconvene Jan. 9.

Committee Action of Note

Tuesday, December 12

  • House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party: Business Meeting
  • House Rules Committee Markup of H. Res. 918, directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House to impeach Joe Biden
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Institutions Hearing: “Restricting Rogue-State Revenue: Strengthening Energy Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and Venezuela
  • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Hearing: “Considering DHS’s and CISA’s Role in Securing Artificial Intelligence”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “The Mineral Supply Chain and the New Space Race”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Hearing to consider pending measures, including:
    • H.R. 5482, “Energy Poverty Prevention and Accountability Act of 2023;” and
    • H.R. 6474, to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to expedite geothermal exploration and development in previously studied or developed areas
  • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability Meeting: “Reviewing the Bureau of Industry and Security, Part II: U.S. Export Controls in an Era of Strategic Competition”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets Hearing: “Examining the Agenda of Regulators, SROs, and Standards-Setters for Accounting, Auditing”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Hearing: “Left in the Dark: Examining the Biden Administration’s Efforts to Eliminate the Pacific Northwest’s Clean Energy Production”
  • House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Hearing: “F-35 Acquisition Program Update”
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Markup of health related bills
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining Hearing to receive testimony on pending legislation:
    • S. 1281, to amend the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 to provide for security of tenure for use of mining claims for ancillary activities (Cortez Masto, “Mining Regulatory Clarity Act of 2023”); and
    • S. 1742, to modify the requirements applicable to locatable minerals on public domain land (Heinrich, “Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act of 2023”)

Wednesday, December 13

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing: “Leveraging Agency Expertise to Foster American AI Leadership and Innovation”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Hearing: “Oversight of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Modal Perspectives”
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Markup of 12 various measures, including:
    • H.R. 5613, to require a review of whether individuals or entities subject to the imposition of certain sanctions through inclusion on certain sanctions lists should also be subject to the imposition of other sanctions and included on other sanctions lists
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Hearing: “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Stakeholder Priorities”

Thursday, December 14

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Markup to consider pending measures, including S. 1521, to amend the Federal Power Act to modernize and improve the licensing of non-Federal hydropower projects
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing: “What is Fueling the Diabetes Epidemic?”

Political Update

House Special Elections

  • NY-3. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has set Feb. 13 as the date for a special election to replace Rep. George Santos (R), who was expelled from the House on Dec. 1. Local Democratic leaders announced on Dec. 7 that former Rep. Tom Suozzi would be their nominee. Republican leaders have not yet announced their candidate.
  • CA-20. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) said last week he would retire by the end of the year but did not set a date to step down from his House seat. Once McCarthy formally leaves Congress, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will have 14 days to declare a special election, which would take place between 126 and 140 days after his declaration. A primary would be held nine or 10 weeks before the special general election. Observers believe that a primary date would be sometime between late March and mid-April, with the special election possibly in May. 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.
  • NY-26. Rep. Brian Higgins (D) will resign in early February to become president and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. As with Santos’ seat, Gov. Hochul 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.
  • OH-6. Rep. Bill Johnson (R) will resign in late February or early March to become president of Youngstown State University. It will be up to Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to schedule a special primary and a special election. Attention will be focused on the Republican primary as the head of the Mahoning County Democratic Party says “the seat is not winnable” for a Democrat. When former Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) left her House seat in March 2021 to become HUD Secretary, Gov. DeWine set the special election for Nov. 2, after an Aug. 3 primary.

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