Senate. The Senate voted this evening to confirm Boston mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary. Five other confirmation votes are on the schedule for this week: Shalanda Young to be OMB Deputy Director, Vivek Murthy to be Surgeon General, Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary at HHS, David Turk to be Deputy Secretary of Energy, and Adewale O. Adeyemo to be Treasury Deputy Secretary.
The Senate will also vote on legislation the House approved March 16 to extend the Paycheck Protection Program loan application deadline to May 31 from March 31 and give the SBA an additional month, through June 30, to complete processing loans. The measure has bipartisan support, but Republican Senators are considering modifications to the bill. When the Senate wraps up its work for the week, it will reconvene April 12.
House. The House has no floor votes this week but will hold numerous committee hearings before recessing for the following two weeks.
Earmarks. House Republicans cast secret ballots last Wednesday, March 17, to determine whether they would join Democrats in bringing back earmarks. When the votes were tallied, the 102-84 margin meant Republicans would lift their decade-old ban on participating in the process that Democrats now refer to as “Community Project Funding.” However, some House Republicans remain opposed and will not participate. Given the House Republican decision, Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is giving Members two extra weeks, until the last week in April, to submit their top 10 projects to the Appropriations subcommittees.
Senate Republicans have not yet determined how they will proceed, but Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Appropriations panel, said he is talking to Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) about a bipartisan plan to restore earmarks.
Committee Action of Note:
Special Elections. Louisiana held two House special elections on Saturday, and neither seat will change parties. In LA-05, Republican Julia Letlow won the race to replace her husband Luke, who died before he could be seated. In the LA-02 race to replace Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), who has joined the Biden Administration, no candidate received over 50% of the vote. A runoff will be held on April 24 between the top two vote-getters, Democratic state Senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson.
When Letlow is seated there will be 219 Democrats and 212 Republicans in the House, with four vacancies – three Democrats and one Republican. In addition to Richmond’s seat, the other Democratic vacancies are in the districts of Deb Haaland, who is now the Interior Secretary, and Marcia Fudge, who is now HUD Secretary. In Haaland’s NM-01 district, party leaders will pick their candidates prior to the June 1 special election. In Fudge’s OH-11 district, primaries will not be held until Aug. 3, with the general election on Nov. 2. The one Republican vacancy is in the TX-06 seat that was held by the late Republican Ron Wright, whose widow is one of the candidates to replace him. All 23 candidates of both parties will be on the May 1 ballot, and a runoff will be held at a date to be announced if no one gets a majority of the vote.