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Legislative Update

Senate. The Senate will continue to consider nominations, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes there will be bipartisan support for the nominees on the agenda. While several nominees were confirmed last week with bipartisan support, Vice President Harris had to break 48-48 tie votes on two nominees because three Democrats and one Republican were absent. Democrat Jeff Merkley (Ore.) was out of town due to the death of his mother, and Republican Mike Crapo did not vote after being diagnosed with Covid. Democratic Senators John Fetterman (Pa.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) were out last week with health issues and will continue to be away from the Senate this week.

In addition to nominations, the Senate could vote on a House-passed bill that would extend the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority, which is set to lapse after Thursday. It’s also likely that the Senate will vote on a disapproval resolution that would block the District of Columbia from implementing its revised criminal code. The resolution, which was approved last month by the House, is expected to pass the Senate, and President Biden has now said he will sign it, after the Administration had opposed the resolution ahead of the House vote. The chairman of the D.C. Council sent a letter to the Senate this morning asking that the criminal code be withdrawn from review, but it appears there is no legal precedent for doing so. The D.C. Home Rule Act gives Congress the ability to block D.C. laws from being implemented, subject to presidential veto or signature.

House. On Wednesday afternoon, House members will meet in the auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center for a briefing by Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel, who will discuss CBO’s recently released Budget and Economic Outlook: 2023 to 2033. Later in the week, the House plans to vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution that would overturn an Administration rule redefining “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS. Supporters of the disapproval resolution argue that the new WOTUS rule, which expands environmental protection for additional bodies of water, creates an onerous regulatory burden on farmers, property owners, and small businesses. Also on the agenda is a Senate-passed bill requiring the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information on the origins of Covid-19. After Friday’s session, the House will be in recess until March 22. During the break, House Republicans will be in Orlando for their March 19-21 retreat.

FY 2024 Budget. President Biden will travel to a Philadelphia union hall on Thursday to unveil his budget proposal. Once the budget is released, Administration officials will make the trip to Capitol Hill to testify on the budget request. Kicking off the hearings the day after the budget is released is the House Ways and Means Committee, which will hear from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Yellen will appear before the Senate Finance Committee on March 16.

In mid-April, House Republicans are expected to release their budget plan, a proposal that Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said should put the country “on a path to a balanced budget” within 10 years. While the House and Senate will not agree this year on a budget resolution (and the Senate may not even vote on one), there is greater interest than usual in the House Republican proposal given GOP demands for spending cuts as part of a debt limit deal. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget concluded in a January 12 analysis that “in order to achieve balance within a decade, all spending would need to be cut by roughly one-quarter and that the necessary cuts would grow to 85 percent if defense, veterans, Social Security, and Medicare spending were off the table.”

Appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to start marking up the FY 2024 spending bills in May, according to Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine). The first step is to agree on topline spending targets for defense and non-defense, and the two Senators said they are working on it. On the House side, Speaker McCarthy has promised to freeze FY 2024 discretionary spending at FY 2022 levels, which would be about $130 billion less than last year’s spending levels.

Monetary Policy. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jay Powell will testify Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee and Wednesday at the House Financial Services Committee. Powell’s Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress is often referred to as the Humphrey-Hawkins report as it was mandated by a 1978 law authored by Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) and Rep. Augustus (Gus) Hawkins (D-Calif.).

Committee Action of Note

  • Tuesday, March 7
    • Senate Armed Services Hearings to examine the posture of United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2024 and the Future Years Defense Program
    • Senate Finance Committee Hearing: “Tax Policy’s Role in Increasing Affordable Housing Supply for Working Families”
    • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Hearing: “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress” with Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell
    • Senates Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing to examine the air, climate, and environmental impacts of crypto-asset mining, including an original bill entitled, “The Crypto-Asset Environmental Transparency Act”
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearing: “The Federal Debt Limit and its Economic and Financial Consequences”
    • Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Reining in Dominant Digital Platforms: Restoring Competition to Our Digital Markets”
    • House Ways and Means Committee Field Hearing in Yukon, Okla.: “The State of the American Economy: The Heartland”
    • House Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing: “Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA)
    • House Intelligence Permanent Select Committee Markup: H.R. 1376, the COVID-19 Origins Act of 2023
  • Wednesday, March 8
    • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Hearing: “Oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission”
    • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing: “Artificial Intelligence: Risks and Opportunities”
    • Senate Intelligence Select Committee Open and Closed Hearings to examine worldwide threats
    • Senate Budget Committee Hearing: “A Burning Issues: The Economic Costs of Wildfires”
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing: “Defending the Right of Workers to Organize Unions Free from Illegal Corporate Union-Busting”
    • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Hearing: “Implementation and Oversight of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act”
    • Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Platform Accountability: Gonzalez and Reform”
    • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing: “The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Investigating the Origins of COVID-19”
    • House Budget Committee Hearing: “Fiscal State of the Union”
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Hearing: “Innovation Through Collaboration: The Department of Energy’s Role in the U.S. Research Ecosystem”
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: “Pipeline Safety: Reviewing Implementation of the PIPES Act of 2020 and Examining Future Safety Needs”
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “The Federal Reserve’s Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report” with Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell
    • House Agriculture Committee Hearing: “A Review of Title VIII: Forestry Stakeholder Perspectives”
    • House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “During and After the Fall of Kabul: Examining the Administration’s Emergency Evacuation from Afghanistan”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Intellectual Property and Strategic Competition with China: Part I”
    • House Energy and Commerce Committee Markup: H.R. 485, H.R. 498, H.R. 467, H.R. 801, H.R. 501
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology markup of various telecommunications bills
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health markup of various bills
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “Holding the Biden Administration Accountable for Wasteful Spending and Regulatory Overreach”
    • House Small Business Committee Hearing: “Small Business Perspectives on the Impacts of the Biden Administration's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Burning the Midnight Oil: Why Depleting the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is Not a Solution to America’s Energy Problem, Part I”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Advances in AI: Are We Ready For a Tech Revolution?”
    • House Natural Resources Committee Hearing: “Benefits and Access: The Necessity for Multiple Use of Water Resources”
  • Thursday, March 9
    • Senate Armed Services Committee Open and Closed Hearings: “To receive testimony on United States Strategic Command and United States Space Command in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2024 and the Future Years Defense Program”
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing: “Protecting Public Health and the Environment in the Wake of the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment and Chemical Release in East Palestine, Ohio”
    • Senate Aging Special Committee Hearing: “Uplifting Families, Workers, and Older Adults: Supporting Communities of Care”
    • House Homeland Security Hearing: “Confronting Threats Posed by the Chinese Communist Party to the U.S. Homeland”
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “U.S. Public Markets Built for the 21st Century: Exploring Reforms to Make Out Public Markets Attractive for Small and Emerging Companies Raising Capital”
    • House Agriculture Committee Hearing: “Rising Risks: Managing Volatility in Global Commodity Derivatives Markets”
    • House Science, Space and Technology Committee Hearing: “The Federal Aviation Administration’s Flight Plan: Examining the Agency’s Research and Development Programs and Future Plans”
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: “FAA Reauthorization: Securing the Future of General Aviation”
    • House Intelligence Permanent Select Committee Hearing: “Annual World Wide Threats Hearing with Heads of the Intelligence Community”
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “Coincidence or Coordinated? The Administration’s Attack on the Digital Asset Ecosystem”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Inflation: A Preventable Crisis”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Go Viral: Inspectors General on Curing the Disease”
  • Friday, March 10
    • House Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Reining in the Administrative State: Reclaiming Congress’s Legislative Power”
    • House Administration Committee Hearing: ““2022 Midterms Look Back Series: Successes in the 2022 Midterm Elections”
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “How Do We Encourage Greater Flood Insurance Coverage in America?”
    • House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing: “Defending America’s Wireless Leadership”
    • House Ways and Means Committee Meeting: “President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request with Treasury Secretary Yellen”
    • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “The Biden Family Investigation: The Department of Treasury”

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