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Legislative Update

Senate. This week the Senate will vote on the nominations of Polly Trottenberg to be Deputy Transportation Secretary, Wendy Sherman to serve as Deputy Secretary of State, and Brenda Mallory to chair the Council on Environmental Quality. The Senate is also expected to vote to confirm Gary Gensler to serve a partial term, through June 5, at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Senate Banking Committee on March 10 approved Gensler, who has been nominated to chair the SEC, to serve both the unexpired term of former Chair Jay Clayton and a subsequent term ending on June 5, 2026, but this week’s floor vote is only for the unexpired term.

On the legislative front, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will ask the Senate to proceed to consideration of the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would bolster the Department of Justice’s ability to address Covid-19 hate crimes, including those targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

House. The House will consider numerous bills under suspension, including a vote Tuesday on legislation to waive for the rest of the year a 2% cut in Medicare reimbursements to providers. The Senate approved the measure 90-2 before it left for the two-week recess. Other legislation on this week’s agenda includes the Paycheck Fairness Act that would make it mandatory for women to be paid the same as men for the same jobs and would also prohibit employers from asking for an applicant’s salary history.

The House will also vote on the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act that directs OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers in the health care and social services industries to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans to protect nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders, and others.

President’s Budget. On Friday, April 9, the White House released the outlines of its request for discretionary spending in FY 2022, the first time in a decade that discretionary spending has not been subject to caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The discretionary proposal calls for a nearly 16% increase in nondefense spending, compared to a 1.7% hike on the defense side, short of the 3-to-5% increase some Republicans have called for.

A more detailed, formal budget request, which will also contain revenue proposals and mandatory spending programs, is expected to be released in late April or early May. In the meantime, Cabinet officials will be on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the discretionary request before appropriators. This includes the secretaries of HHS, Transportation, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs as well as the director of the National Science Foundation.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, April 13:
    • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Defense hearing to examine DoD innovation and research.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to examine the legacy of racial discrimination in housing.
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing to examine the 2021 filing season and 21st century IRS.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing to examine the student debt burden and its impact on racial justice, borrowers, and the economy.
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion hearing to examine the state of travel and tourism during COVID-19.
    • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing to review the President’s FY 2022 funding request for the National Science Foundation with testimony from the NSF Director.
  • Wednesday, April 14:
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Hearing: The U.S. Department of Agriculture – the Year Ahead with testimony from Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on the National Science Foundation's FY 2022 Budget Request with testimony from NSF Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan.
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: Build Back Better: Investing in Equitable and Affordable Housing Infrastructure (H.R.235, H.R.816, H.R.1728).
    • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy Hearing: Renewing the United States’ Commitment to Addressing the Root Causes of Migration from Central America.
    • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine preparedness for COVID-19, focusing on the initial pandemic response and lessons learned.
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee business meeting to consider S.914, to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reauthorize programs under those Acts; to be immediately followed by a hearing to examine the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, focusing on lessons learned from the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program and other user-based revenue solutions, and how funding uncertainty affects the highway programs.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing: An Epidemic within a Pandemic: Understanding Substance Use and Misuse in America.
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Members’ Day Hearing.
    • Joint Economic Committee hearing to examine vaccinations and economic recovery.
  • Thursday, April 15:
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing to examine the nominations of Andrea Palm to be HHS Deputy Secretary and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies FY2022 Budget Hearing: Department of Veterans Affairs with testimony from VA Secretary Denis R McDonough.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies FY2022 Budget Request Hearing: Department of Health and Human Services with testimony from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies FY2022 Budget Request Hearing: Department of Transportation with testimony from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Hearing: Increasing Risks of Climate Change and NOAA's Role in Providing Climate Services.
    • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Hearing: Banking Innovation or Regulatory Evasion? Exploring Trends in Financial Institution Charters.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to examine public transportation infrastructure investment and FAST Act Reauthorization.
    • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the leading role of the Department of Energy in American energy innovation and how its research, development, demonstration, and deployment programs may be enhanced to further boost the economic competitiveness of the United States.
    • House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions hearing: Meeting the Moment: Improving Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Care.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing: The CLEAN Future Act and Environmental Justice: Protecting Frontline Communities.
    • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets hearing: The End of LIBOR: Transitioning to an Alternative Interest Rate Calculation for Mortgages, Student Loans, Business Borrowing, and Other Financial Products.

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