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Legislative Update

Senate. The Senate is in recess and will return on Monday, May 10, when it will resume consideration of the nomination of Andrea Palm to be HHS Deputy Secretary.

House. The House is not in session this week but has numerous hearings on the schedule.

House Access. House office buildings and the Capitol have re-opened, but with a multitude of restrictions, for visitors on official business. Visitors will have to be escorted at all times by a Member or staffer, with a maximum of six visitors, socially distanced, in a group at one time. House offices must first provide the Sergeant at Arms’ office with meeting and guest information so that badges can be provided to enable Capitol Police to readily identify visitors.

Prior to a visit, the sponsor of the visitor must attest that each visitor has completed a daily health survey and that the survey was negative prior to the visit. All visitors must wear a surgical mask that completely covers the nose and mouth that “should be worn for the entirety of the visit from start to finish.” Surgical masks will be provided if a visitor does not already have one.

Senate Voting Proposal. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have introduced a resolution to amend Senate rules to allow Senators to vote remotely during a national crisis, such as the Covid pandemic. The proposal provides that if the Majority and Minority Leaders jointly determine that a national crisis exists that makes it infeasible for Senators to vote in person, then Senators could vote remotely for up to 30 days, at which point the Senate would have to vote whether to renew the process. Then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected calls last year for remote voting. The House has been using a proxy voting system since May 2020, allowing Members to designate a colleague to cast their votes.

House Earmarks. The deadline for House Members to submit their requests for community project funding (i.e., earmarks) was April 30, and the House Appropriations Committee today released an online “one-stop” link to individual Members’ requests. Later this week, the committee plans to post a consolidated table showing all of the Member requests in one place. Not all of the requests will be funded, and information as to which requests will be included in the House appropriations measures will be released the same day as the relevant subcommittee markup or 24 hours before full committee consideration if there is no subcommittee markup.

White House Meeting. President Biden plans to host a May 12 meeting with House and Senate leaders from both parties. The President “is eager to talk in-person about how we can partner on the goals of restoring trust in government and ensuring that government delivers for the American people,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, May 4:
    • House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Hearing: “The Urgent Need to Reform the Organ Transplantation System to Secure More Organs for Waiting, Ailing, and Dying Patients.”
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy Hearing: Climate and Energy Science Research at the Department of Energy.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing: “Negotiating a Better Deal: Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs.”
    • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance Hearing: Built to Last: Examining Housing Resilience in the Face of Climate Change.
  • Wednesday, May 5:
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security Hearing: TSA: Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Implications for Budget and Operations.
    • House Ways and Means Committee Markup of the “Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021.”
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy Hearing: "The CLEAN Future Act: Driving Decarbonization of the Transportation Sector."
    • House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Hearing: Lower Drug Costs Now: Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care.
  • Thursday, May 6:
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Hearing: “When Unlimited Potential Meets Limited Resources: The Benefits and Challenges of High-Speed Rail and Emerging Rail Technologies.”
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Hearing: FY 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Energy.
    • House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development Hearing: Growing Jobs through Infrastructure Investment.

Political Update

Texas Special Election. The District 6 seat held by the late Ron Wright (R) will remain in Republican hands. Twenty-three candidates competed in the May 1 special election, with Wright’s widow Susan and State Rep. Jake Ellzey finishing in the top two spots, taking 19.2% and 13.8% of the vote, respectively. Because no candidate garnered over 50%, Wright, who is backed by former President Trump, and Ellzey, who is supported by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, will head to a runoff that is expected to be held in July. Candidates from all parties competed, with the top vote-getting Democrat, Jana Lynne Sanchez, falling 354 votes short of making the runoff.

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