Legislative / Policy Update
Senate. The Senate this week plans to take up the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the deferred maintenance backlog at national parks. Final passage could be complicated by possible amendments.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is looking at offering an amendment that would allow Gulf Coast states to receive more revenue from offshore oil and gas leasing, a proposal opposed by many Democrats. If the bill is opened up to amendments, some Democrats have discussed offering an amendment related to the Interior Department deploying Park Police in Lafayette Square. No decision has been made on the amendment process, and the first step will be cloture vote at 5:30 tonight on whether to proceed to consideration of the measure.
House. The House is not scheduled to be in session until June 30, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he plans to call the House back before then to vote on the Justice in Policing Act that was unveiled this morning. The Judiciary Committee could mark up the legislation as soon as next week, with a possible floor vote the week after that.
Infrastructure. Congressional staff continue to show their creativity in naming pieces of legislation. On June 3, House Democrats unveiled their infrastructure proposal – the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act. The legislation would authorize $494 billion over the next five years to tackle the country’s backlog of roads, bridges, and transit system needs.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plans a June 17 markup session for the bill, which would provide $319 billion for highway investments, $105 billion for transit, $60 billion for rail investments, and $10 billion for vehicle safety investments.
Neither the House proposal nor the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a $287-billion, five-year bill approved last July by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee provides a funding mechanism to pay for spending beyond what is covered by federal gasoline and diesel fuel taxes. The current five-year authorization, known as the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) expires Sept. 30.
FY 2021 Appropriations. House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) told her committee colleagues June 4 that subcommittees and the full committee will mark up FY 2021 spending bills the weeks of July 6 and 13, followed by full House consideration the weeks of July 20 and 27. The specific order of bills, she said, will be sent later this month. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has not announced a schedule for his panel, but action on the first set of bills could begin the week of June 22. Because none of the measures are likely to be enacted before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution in September to keep the government open.
Committee Action of Note:
Elections. Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia will all hold primary elections on Tuesday.
Some of the most competitive primaries tomorrow will take place in Georgia, with three open House seats and a closely watched Senate seat. It’s likely that several races will head into a runoff on August 11 if a candidate does not receive a majority of votes cast. In 2018, Republican Rep. Rob Woodall’s district was the closest House race in the country. Now there is no clear frontrunner on either side of the aisle for this open seat.
On the Senate side, Democrat Jon Ossoff, who narrowly lost the 2017 special election for Rep. Tom Price’s seat, is the clear frontrunner to challenge Republican Senator David Perdue in November. However, with six other Democrats on the ballot, Ossoff faces an uphill battle to win outright.
There is also a race for Georgia’s other Senate seat, but there will be no primary. The seat is now held by Senator Kelly Loeffler (R), who was appointed by the governor to replace Senator Johnny Isakson. On Nov. 3, all candidates for that seat will be on the ballot, and if no candidate receives a majority, there will be a runoff on Jan. 5.
Delegate Count. Former Vice President Joe Biden has formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, according to the Associated Press. After eight primaries were held last week, Biden officially gathered over 1,991 delegates to become the nominee.
Fundraising. President Trump is resuming in-person fundraising this week, according to Politico. The President will be hosting a fundraiser at a private home in Dallas on June 11 and then will host an outdoor fundraiser at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. on June 13. These events will be much smaller than his typical fundraisers with only about 25 attendees. All attendees will be required to test negative for coronavirus the day of the event and will have to pass a health screening with temperature checks upon arrival.