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Legislative Update

Senate. This week Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans for the Senate to take up legislation he co-sponsored with Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) – the Endless Frontier Act. While the bill’s core purpose is to increase funding for the National Science Foundation, the measure will be broadened considerably on the floor to include proposals aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness with China. Floor consideration could take two weeks, wrapping up before the Senate leaves for the Memorial Day recess that begins May 31. Votes could also occur before the recess on nominations, including that of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

House. Attention in the House will be on two bills related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. One measure is a $1.9 billion supplemental appropriations bill to improve security at the Capitol; the other would establish a 10-person commission to conduct an investigation of the attack and to make recommendations, with a final report due by December 31.

The agreement to establish the commission was hammered out by the chairman and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee – Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), breaking a months-long impasse between the parties as to how the panel should be structured. Under the agreement, the panel will be equally divided between commissioners appointed by the congressional Democratic and Republican leadership. Current government officials are not eligible for appointment.

Budget/Tax Proposals. The Biden administration will release its FY 2022 budget proposal on May 27. At the same time or shortly thereafter, the Treasury Department will issue what’s known as the Green Book, which provides details on the various tax proposals in the President’s budget, including those in the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.

Earmarks. Not only do the House and Senate have different names for their earmarks (Community Project Funding in the House and Congressionally Directed Spending in the Senate), they also differ on the spending accounts eligible for earmark requests. In particular, the Senate does not provide for any directed spending requests in the Defense appropriations bill, and its eligible accounts in other funding bills don’t always match up with accounts selected by the House Appropriations Committee.

According to Roll Call, a Senate aide said that since “defense spending largely goes to for-profit corporations through competitively-bid processes, there is a bipartisan agreement to not accept congressionally directed spending requests in the Defense bill.” Senators can submit their requests between May 28 and July 8.

In addition to appropriations bills, earmarks are also permitted for the surface transportation reauthorization bill. According to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, House members have submitted 2,380 Member Designated Project requests, with three-quarters of those coming from Democrats. Requests came from 213 Democrats and 105 Republicans.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, May 18:
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Hearing: Member Day.
    • House Oversight and Reform Committee Hearing: Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez.
    • House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access: Examining the role of Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions in Small Business Lending.
    • House Agriculture Committee Hearing: Member Day.
    • House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy: Examining Belt and Road: The Lending Practices of the People's Republic of China and Impact on the International Debt Architecture.
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Hearings to examine paid leave for working families, focusing on examining access, options, and impacts.
    • Senate Finance Committee Hearing to examine funding and financing options to bolster American infrastructure.
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security: Hearings to examine protecting kids online, focusing on internet privacy and manipulative marketing.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to examine reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Hearing: Promises and Perils: The Potential of Automobile Technologies.
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Hearing to examine reviving international travel and tourism to create and restore jobs.
  • Wednesday, May 19:
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: Oversight of Prudential Regulators: Ensuring the Safety, Soundness, Diversity, and Accountability of Depository Institution.
    • House Ways and Means Committee Hearing: Leveraging the Tax Code for Infrastructure Investment.
    • Senate Finance Committee Hearing to examine COVID-19 health care flexibilities, focusing on perspectives, experiences, and lessons learned.
    • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing to examine COVID-19, focusing on evaluating the medical supply chain and pandemic response gaps.
    • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights Hearing to examine antitrust applied, focusing on hospital consolidation concerns and solutions.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Business meeting to consider the nominations of Adrianne Todman to be Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Nuria I. Fernandez to be Federal Transit Administrator, Department of Transportation.
  • Thursday, May 20:
    • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Hearing: Powering Up Clean Energy: Investments to Modernize and Expand the Electric Grid.
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security Hearing to examine solving the crisis in the health care workforce.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to examine 21st century communities, focusing on expanding opportunity through infrastructure investments.

Political Update

Latest House Count. With the May 11 swearing-in of Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.) to replace Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), there are now 219 Democrats and 212 Republicans in the House, with four vacancies. Of the four vacancies, three seats were held by Democrats (N.M., Fla., and Ohio) and one by a Republican (Tex.).

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