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Legislative / Policy Update

Senate Floor. The Senate voted Monday evening to begin consideration of a package of over 50 energy bills designed to increase energy efficiency, address electric grid security, and spur development of energy storage, carbon capture, and new nuclear technologies. While the various bills have bipartisan support, the debate on the floor will focus more on what is not in the package than what is in it.

Senators from both sides of the aisle have amendments they want to offer, with Democrats looking to offer amendments that would, among other things, provide for voluntary building performance measures and add to the bill a package of clean energy tax incentives for electric vehicles, battery storage, and renewable energy. Both of these proposals could be deal killers. Home builders oppose the building code amendment, and adding tax incentives to Senate legislation that is not a revenue bill would add a layer of parliamentary complications to its consideration by the House.

Negotiations are ongoing as to which amendments will be allowed, and Senate staff note that if certain amendments are not allowed, a cloture vote Wednesday or Thursday to limit debate on the bill could fail, stalling action on the measure.

House Floor. The focus in the House this week will be on legislation that has not yet been written. House and Senate appropriations leaders, in consultation with party leaders, are working to draft an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will provide funds to combat the coronavirus. Negotiators are hoping to reach an agreement today, with possible consideration by the full House on Wednesday or Thursday.

In other House news, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announced last week that House Democrats will hold their annual Issues Conference April 1-3 in Philadelphia.

Coronavirus Package. The emergency spending package could provide as much as $8 billion to fight the coronavirus. In a Feb. 29 letter to her House colleagues, Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote that “any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding, not stolen from other accounts. This package must also ensure that the President cannot use these new funds for anything other than fighting coronavirus and infectious diseases. The supplemental must also ensure that vaccines are affordable and available to all who need them, that SBA loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak and that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.” Following expected House passage this week, the Senate will take up the bill next week.

Committee Action of Note

March 3

  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security: Review of the FY2021 Budget Request for the Transportation Security Administration.
  • House Ways and Means Hearing: The Proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Hearing: Member Day
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing: "The Airline Passenger Experience: What It Is and What It Can Be."
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on MilCon-VA Hearing: Military Privatized Housing.
  • House Armed Services Committee Hearing: The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Army (Rescheduled).

March 4

  • House Armed Services Committee Hearing: The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Air Force.
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Hearing: "Funding a Robust Freight and Passenger Rail Network."
  • House Agriculture Committee Hearing: "The State of the Rural Economy with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue."
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy Hearing: The Traffickers' Roadmap: How Bad Actors Exploit Financial Systems to Facilitate the Illicit Trade in People, Animals, Drugs, and Weapons.
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance Hearing: Drivers of Discrimination: An Examination of Unfair Premiums, Practices, and Policies in the Auto Insurance Industry.

March 5

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing on the Energy Outlook of the U.S. from the Perspective of the International Energy Agency.

Political Update

Democratic Presidential Delegates. Voters in 14 states and one territory will vote tomorrow to award 34% of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Led by California with 415 delegates, Texas with 228, and North Carolina with 110, a total of 1,357 delegates are at stake in the Super Tuesday primaries. Next on the calendar are March 10 primaries that account for 352 delegates, including 125 in Michigan. On March 17, 577 delegates are at stake, including 219 in Florida, 155 in Illinois, and 136 in Ohio.

Race for the White House. With the departure from the race of Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer, President Trump at 73 is now the youngest male candidate running for President, followed by Joe Biden at 77; Mike Bloomberg, 78; and Bernie Sanders, 78. The two women still in the race, with today’s announcement that Amy Klobuchar has dropped out, are Elizabeth Warren, 70, and Tulsi Gabbard, 38. Klobuchar and Buttigieg will join Biden tonight in Dallas to announce their support for the former vice president.

Congressional Races to Watch. On Super Tuesday, several House incumbents are facing challenges or attempting comebacks. In Texas’s 12th District, Rep. Kay Granger (R), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, is facing a well-funded challenge from the right by Chris Putnam, who is backed by the Club for Growth. In the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) is being challenged from the left by immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while Cisneros is supported by labor unions. In the 17th District, former Rep. Pete Sessions (R), who lost a 2018 re-election race for his Dallas-based 32nd District seat, is now vying for a seat in the Waco area that is held by retiring Rep. Bill Flores (R). Flores has endorsed Waco businesswoman Renee Swann.

In California, the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election in November. In the Republican-leaning 50th District, former Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who retired from his seat representing the 49th District, is seeking the seat that was held by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R), who resigned in January after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds. In the 16th District, Rep. Jim Costa (D) is facing opposition from Esmeralda Soria (D), a Fresno councilwoman.

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