White House. President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union message at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday. All lawmakers have been invited to attend, but, as a Covid safety protocol, no guests will be allowed. Lawmakers will be required to submit proof of a negative Covid test within one day of the speech; however, mask wearing will no longer be required in the House chamber, including during the State of the Union, according to a Sunday memo from the Capitol’s attending physician. The White House is also changing its policy. Beginning Tuesday, fully vaccinated White House employees will no longer be required to wear masks at work.
Senate. The Senate this week will continue to consider nominations and is expected to take up legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service.
House. The House will consider numerous bills under suspension of the rules as well as a measure providing health care to veterans who were exposed to burn pits.
Appropriations. The current continuing resolution funding the government runs out on March 11. House Democrats will be in Philadelphia for their issues conference March 9-11. Therefore, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wants the House to vote by March 8 on legislation that will package all 12 FY 2022 appropriations bills into a single omnibus bill. The omnibus could also be a vehicle for additional funding to aid Ukraine and for extra Covid-related spending.
On Friday, the White House asked Congress for $6.4 billion in aid to Ukraine – $3.5 billion in Pentagon funding related to U.S. troop deployments and $2.9 billion as emergency funding for the State Department and USAID for foreign security and humanitarian assistance.
The White House is also asking for $30 billion in supplemental funding for Covid measures – $17.9 billion for vaccines and treatments, $4.9 billion for testing, $3.7 billion to prepare for future variants, $3 billion for Covid-related health care costs for the uninsured, and $500 million to the CDC for surveillance and operations. In addition, the Administration has told lawmakers that another $5 billion is needed for international efforts to fight the pandemic.
Supreme Court. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to be a Supreme Court Justice could begin as soon as the week of March 21, and Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants the Senate to confirm Jackson by April 8.
April 8, the last day of session before the Senate begins a two-week recess, will be 43 days from President Biden’s February 25 announcement of Jackson as his choice for the high court. According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of days from nomination to a final vote for recent nominees is 27 for Amy Coney Barrett, 88 for Brett Kavanaugh, 65 for Neil Gorsuch, 87 for Elena Kagan, 66 for Sonia Sotomayor, 82 for Samuel Alito, 62 for John Roberts, 73 for Stephen Breyer, and 99 for Clarence Thomas. This will be Jackson’s fourth Senate confirmation vote, with the most recent being the 53-44 vote on June 14, 2021 to confirm Jackson as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Committee Action of Note:
Texas Primaries. Voters in Texas will go to the polls Tuesday to select party nominees for statewide offices and the state’s 38 Congressional seats. Most Congressional incumbents appear to have a safe path to re-nomination, but attention is focused on TX-28, where Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is facing a challenge from the left, and TX-03, where Republican Rep. Van Taylor has opposition from the right. Two districts will have new members next year, replacing retiring Reps. Kevin Brady (R) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D).
Senate Retirement. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced Friday that he will resign at the end of the year. Candidates for the remainder of Inhofe’s term, which ends in January 2027, must file by April 15. Primaries will be held June 28, with August run-offs if no candidate receives a majority. The winning candidates for each party will compete in the November general election. Inhofe endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to replace him.