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Legislative Update

Senate. Two Senators who have been absent for health reasons are returning this week, while a third will continue to recover at home. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.) will be back in Washington, while Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will be at her home in California. Senator Feinstein has asked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve [on the Judiciary Committee] until I’m able to resume my committee work.” Schumer will bring a resolution to the floor to name a replacement. It appears that there will be Republican objections to moving the resolution by unanimous consent, forcing Schumer to see if he can round up 60 votes for approval. The Senate will also continue to consider nominations and on Wednesday at 3 p.m., Senators will have a classified briefing on the Pentagon documents that were leaked.

House. Among the items on the House agenda this week are a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams and a resolution to disapprove a District of Columbia law overhauling police practices. The White House said today that President Biden would veto both measures if they reached his desk. The House this week could also vote on overriding President Biden’s veto of a resolution to reverse the Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The override effort, however, is expected to fall short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Debt Limit. In a speech today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pledged that the House will vote “in the coming weeks” on a bill that would “lift the debt ceiling into next year,” reportedly until May 2024. According to McCarthy, the spending cuts in the debt limit package would return “the federal government to 2022 spending levels—and then limit… the growth of spending over the next 10 years to 1% annual growth.” McCarthy did not provide details, but there has been speculation that the proposed discretionary spending cuts would not apply to defense and veterans programs.

Other components of the Republican package would “claw back tens of billions of dollars in unspent COVID-related money,” strengthen work requirements for government programs aiding low-income Americans, include most provisions from the House-passed energy and permitting reform legislation (H.R. 1), and include the REINS Act, which would require that major rules from federal agencies be approved by Congress.

Details of the package are still being hammered out, and if the Speaker is able to pass the measure in the House, he intends to use it as a starting point in debt limit negotiations with the White House and Congressional Democrats.

Farm Bill. It’s been five years since Congress last passed a farm bill – a package of agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry programs – and the 2018 reauthorization of those programs is scheduled to expire Sept. 30. House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been laying the groundwork for months on a new farm bill, and activity will pick up this week as Senate Agriculture subcommittees hold the first two of five hearings scheduled over the next three weeks. Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) would like her committee to mark up a bill shortly before or immediately after the August recess.

Whether Congress can approve legislation before Sept. 30 is debatable, with the biggest hurdle to consensus being partisan differences over food assistance programs. The majority of all farm bill spending is for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, which has been authorized in the farm bill since 1973. A number of House Republicans are pushing to strengthen the work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries, and House Speaker McCarthy intends to include language strengthening work requirements for anti-poverty programs as part of his debt limit proposal.

Democrats oppose the new work requirement proposal, and it is unclear how and when the issue will be resolved. If agreement cannot be reached by Sept. 30, lawmakers are expected to pass a short-term extension of current programs.

Committee Action of Note

Monday, April 17

  • House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Hearing: “Investigating the Origins of COVID-19, Part 2: China and the Available Intelligence”

Tuesday, April 18

  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearings on FY 2024 Budget Proposals, including Air Force, Space Force, National Science Foundation
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearings on FY 2024 Budget Proposals, including Housing and Urban Development, Commerce Department, Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Senate Budget Committee Hearing: “A Rigged System: The Cost of Tax Dodging by the Wealthy and Big Corporations”
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing: “Cleaner Vehicles: Good for Consumers and Public Health”
  • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission” with SEC Chairman Gary Gensler
  • House Natural Resources Committee Hearing: “Examining the Implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act and the Growing National Park Service Deferred Maintenance Backlog”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “Insights from the HHS Inspector General on Oversight of Unaccompanied Minors, Grant Management, and CMS”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, And Grid Security Hearing: “American Nuclear Energy Expansion: Powering a Clean and Secure Future”
  • House Small Business Committee Hearing: “Paying Their Fair Share: How Tax Hikes Crush the Competitiveness of Small Business”
  • House Oversight and Accountability Hearing: “Spending on Empty: How the Biden Administration’s Unprecedented Spending Increased Risk of Waste, Fraud and Abuse at the Department of Energy”
  • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: “Countering China’s Trade and Investment Agenda: Opportunities for American Leadership”
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “Great Power Competition in Africa: The Chinese Communist Party”

Wednesday, April 19

  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2024 Budget Proposal for the Food and Drug Administration
  • Senate Finance Committee Hearing: “The President’s FY 2024 IRS Budget and the IRS’s 2023 Filing Season”
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Hearing: “SNAP and Other Nutrition Assistance in the Farm Bill”
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee Hearing: “Protecting American Taxpayers: Highlighting Efforts to Protect Against Federal Waste, Fraud, and Mismanagement”
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearings on FY 2024 Budget Proposals, including Department of the Interior, CDC and NIH, NASA, Border Protection Agency
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing: “Examining Existing Federal Programs to Build a Stringer Health Workforce and Improve Primary Care”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing: “Streamlining Permitting to Expedite Broadband Deployment”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “Who Is Selling Your Data: A Critical Examination Of The Role Of Data Brokers In The Digital Economy”
  • House Agriculture Committee hearing for the purpose of receiving testimony from The Honorable Michael Regan, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “Understanding Stablecoins’ Role in Payments and the Need for Legislation”
  • House Ways and Means Committee Hearing: “The U.S. Tax Code Subsidizing Green Handouts and the Chinese Communist Party”
  • House Ways and Means Committee Markup of H.J. Res. 39, to repeal the Biden administration’s two-year delay on tariffs of imported solar panels from four Asian nations
  • House Armed Services Committee Hearing: “Department of the Army FY 2024 Budget Request”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: “FAA Reauthorization: Examining the Current and Future Challenges Facing the Aerospace Workforce”
  • House Homeland Security Committee Hearing: “A Review of the FY 2024 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security”
  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing: “Examining Biden’s War on Independent Contractors”
  • House Oversight and Accountability Committee Hearing: “Data Breach at the D.C. Health Exchange”
  • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “A Roadmap for Growth: Reforms to Encourage Capital Formation and Investment Opportunities for All Americans”

Thursday, April 20

  • Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing to consider the nomination of Julie Su to serve as Secretary of Labor
  • Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Hearing: “GAO’s 2023 High Risk List: Recommendations for Reducing Waste, Fraud, and Abuse”
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Hearing: “Conservation in the Farm Bill: Making Conservation Programs Work for Farmers and Ranchers”
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2024 Budget Proposal for the Department of Transportation
  • House Administration Committee Hearing: “American Confidence in Elections: Ensuring Every Eligible and Interested American Has the Opportunity to Vote”

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