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Legislative Update

Senate. Details were released Sunday night of the emergency national security spending bill. The $118-billion proposal includes funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and border security as well as changes to U.S. immigration and border policy. The first procedural test for the measure will come Wednesday, when the Senate votes on whether to limit debate on the motion to proceed. Given the busy floor schedule this week, Democrats have postponed their annual retreat, which was scheduled for Feb. 7 in Mount Vernon, Va. After finishing business on Friday, the Senate is scheduled to be in recess for two weeks, returning to session on February 26. There is speculation, though, that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could keep the Senate in longer if votes are still being held on the national security spending measure.

House. The House will have a shortened work week, with last votes no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Democrats will travel to the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va. for their Issues Conference that kicks off Wednesday evening and concludes on Friday. On Thursday, President Biden will deliver the keynote address.

Before adjourning for the week, the House plans to vote on a $17.6 billion emergency supplemental bill to aid Israel. The measure does not provide any funds for Ukraine and, unlike an earlier House-passed bill, is not offset. Given pockets of Republican opposition to the measure, Speaker Mike Johnson may try to avoid a floor vote on a rule for consideration (which would likely not be approved if there are Republican defections) and, instead, schedule the proposal for consideration under suspension of the rules, which would require a two-thirds majority to pass. By tradition, the majority party is responsible for approving the rule for debate and the minority party almost never votes for the rule. With a very narrow majority in this Congress, Republicans have seen a number of rule votes fail and have had to pull other measures from consideration, knowing that the rule would fail.

A floor vote on the rule could prove to be a problem for still another proposal – legislation to increase the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). In return for their support last week in passing the $79-billion tax package, Speaker Johnson promised a handful of New York Republicans that he would schedule a floor vote on SALT legislation. The measure would raise the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction to $20,000 for the 2023 tax year for joint filers with adjusted gross income of less than $500,000. Even though the Rules Committee cleared a rule for the SALT bill on Thursday, the measure has not yet been included in this week’s schedule for floor consideration. If the House does consider the matter this week, it appears that the rule will be defeated and there will be no vote on the SALT proposal itself. (The tax package that was approved on Jan. 31 went around the rules process and was passed under suspension, 357-70.)

A Few Dates to Note:

  • Feb. 7 – CBO will release "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2024 to 2034"
  • Feb. 10-25 – Scheduled Senate recess
  • Feb. 17-27 – Scheduled House recess
  • March 1 – Funding expires for programs covered by four appropriations bills (Agriculture/FDA, Military Construction/VA, Energy and Water, and Transportation/HUD)
  • March 7 – President’s State of the Union address
  • March 8 – Authorization expires for FAA programs (The Senate Commerce Committee is tentatively set to mark up its bill on Feb. 8.)
  • March 8 – Funding expires for programs covered by the eight remaining appropriations bills
  • March 11 – President Biden to send Congress his FY 2025 budget proposal
  • March 13-15 – House Republican retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia

Committee Action of Note

Monday, February 5

  • House Rules Committee Meeting to formulate a rule on H.R. 485, “Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act of 2023,” and H. Res. 863, Impeaching Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security

Tuesday, February 6

  • House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittees on Research and Technology and Energy Joint Hearing: “Federal Science Agencies and the Promise of AI in Driving Scientific Discoveries”
  • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Hearing: “Securing Operational Technology: A Deep Dive into the Water Sector”
  • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “The Annual Report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council,” with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Chairperson of the Financial Stability Oversight Council
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing: “The State of American Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration,” with Michael Whitaker, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security Hearing: “Politics Over People: How Biden’s LNG Export Ban Threatens American’s Energy and Economic Security”
  • House Budget Committee Markup of various measures, including H.R. 766, Preventive Health Savings Act, and H.R. 7032, Congressional Budget Office Data Sharing Act
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Markup of various measures, including:
    • H.R. 7151, to amend the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • H.R. 6603, to apply foreign-direct product rules to Iran; and
    • H.R. 7122, to prohibit aid that will benefit Hamas, and for other purposes
  • House Ways and Means Committee Hearing: “Examining Chronic Drug Shortages in the United States”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “Protecting American Health Security: Oversight of Shortcomings in the FDA’s Foreign Drug Inspection Program”

Wednesday, February 7

  • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: “Advancing America’s Interests at the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Meeting”
  • House Administration Committee Hearing: “American Confidence in Elections: Confronting Zuckerbucks, Private Funding of Election Administration”

Thursday, February 8

  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands Field Hearing in Arizona: “Biden’s Border Crisis: The Consequences of Failing to Secure Federal Border Lands”
  • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing: “The Financial Stability Oversight Council Annual Report to Congress,” with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Chairperson of the Financial Stability Oversight Council
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing to examine the Administration’s Pause on LNG Export Approvals and the Department of Energy’s Process for Assessing LNG Export Applications”
  • Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing to receive testimony on Global Security Challenges and U.S. Strategy
  • Senate Finance Committee Hearing: “Artificial Intelligence and Health Care: Promise and Pitfalls”
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing: “Why Does the United States Pay, by Far, the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs?”

Political Update

House Vacancies. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) officially resigned his seat on Friday, Feb. 2, to become the President and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. With Higgins’ resignation, there are now 219 Republicans and 212 Democrats in the House. One of the four vacancies will be filled soon, after the Feb. 13 special election to decide who will succeed Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). As for the Higgins vacancy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) must call a special election within 10 days of his resignation, and party officials will choose the nominees.

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