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Legislative Update

House. House members are engaged this week in committee activity and will return to session next week. In the Appropriations subcommittees, four FY 2022 spending bills were marked up today (Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-HUD), with the full committee set to finish work on all four by Friday. For floor consideration, the bills will be grouped into several minibuses. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer envisions floor votes on all or most of the bills before the August recess.

Senate. The Senate returned today from recess and, not surprisingly, has more nominations on its schedule. The real action, though, will be behind the scenes as select groups of Senators work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and an FY 2022 budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. In a July 9 letter to his colleagues, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was his intention that the Senate consider both measures before leaving for the August recess. He also cautioned that “Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously-scheduled August state work period.”

Bipartisan Deal. The 21 Senators – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – who signed on to the bipartisan infrastructure agreement have divided into topic-specific groups and are now working with committee staff and the legislative counsel’s office to turn the agreement into legislative language, which, in turn, will be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office to calculate scores for the various provisions. The Senators plan to meet Tuesday to hammer out details, and White House officials are also expected to be engaged in those talks.

As part of this process, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday will mark up a new version of the Energy Infrastructure Act, legislation by committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that he views as an integral part of the bipartisan package. Last week, news outlets reported that details of the bipartisan proposal could be finalized as soon as the week of July 19, but there is skepticism as to whether everything can be finalized by then. There are also questions as to whether the CBO will score the deal’s pay-fors as raising enough money to offset the cost. This would include the $100 billion assumed from increased IRS tax collections and $58 billion from dynamic scoring, i.e., the economic benefits of infrastructure investment.

Even if supporters round up at least 60 votes in the Senate to pass the deal before the recess, there is still the question of what will happen in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not allow her Members to vote on the bipartisan deal until the Senate has also passed reconciliation legislation. “Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, then we'll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill," Pelosi said June 24.

Budget Resolution/Reconciliation. The first step in the reconciliation process is a budget resolution, and Leader Schumer is working with the Senate Budget Committee to develop a resolution with reconciliation instructions that can win the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. The rumor of the day is that the Budget Committee is looking at a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. It’s questionable, though, whether a package with that price tag will be acceptable to all Democrats, given that Senator Manchin is saying the bill must be totally paid for, and it will be difficult to get 50 votes for $3.5 trillion in offsets.

The Budget Committee could unveil its top-line number for reconciliation by the end of this week. Once Leader Schumer schedules the budget resolution for floor consideration, it’s expected to take about a week to finish debate and vote on amendments during the vote-a-rama.

Competition Order. On July 9, President Biden signed an Executive Order designed “to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation [and] increase competition.” According to a White House fact sheet, the Order “includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across our economy.” The Order itself, though, doesn’t impose new requirements; rather, federal agencies will need to write new rules to implement the various initiatives, and those rules are then likely to face court challenges.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Monday, July 12:
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies markup of FY 2022 Appropriations Bill.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies markup of FY 2022 Appropriations Bill.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies markup of FY 2022 Appropriations Bill.
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies markup of FY2022 Appropriations Bill.
    • House Administration Committee Hearing: The Elections Clause: Constitutional Interpretation and Congressional Exercise.
  • Tuesday, July 13:
    • Senate Finance Committee Business Meeting to consider the nominations of Sarah Bianchi to be Deputy United States Trade Representative (Asia, Africa, Investment, Services, Textiles, and Industrial Competitiveness), with the rank of Ambassador; Jayme White to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative (Western Hemisphere, Europe, the Middle East, Labor, and Environment), with the rank of Ambassador; and Melanie Egorin to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.
    • House Appropriations Full Committee Markup of FY2022 Homeland and Defense Appropriations Bills.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearings to examine the nominations of Arun Venkataraman to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, and Damon Y. Smith to be General Counsel of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
    • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights hearings to examine anti-competitive conduct in prescription drug markets.
  • Wednesday, July 14:
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Business meeting to consider the nominations of Alejandra Y. Castillo to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, and Jane Toshiko Nishida and Jeffrey M. Prieto, both to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; to be immediately followed by a hearing to examine the nomination of Michael Lee Connor to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army, Department of Defense.
    • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2022 for the Department of Labor.
    • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Business meeting to consider an original bill to invest in the energy and outdoor infrastructure of the United States to deploy new and innovative technologies, update existing infrastructure to be reliable and resilient, and secure energy infrastructure against physical and cyber threats.
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Hearing: President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request: Agency Policies and Perspectives (Part II).
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Hearing: Principles for Outbreak Investigation: COVID-19 and Future Infectious Diseases.
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy.
    • Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth Hearings to examine defending and investing in U.S. competitiveness.
    • Joint Economic Committee Hearings to examine how concentrated corporate power undermines shared prosperity.
  • Thursday, July 15:
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearings to examine the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearings to examine the nominations of David Weil to be Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor, and Gwynne A. Wilcox and David M. Prouty, both to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board.
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearings to examine implementing supply chain resiliency.
    • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Hearing: Advancing Environmental Justice Through Climate Action.

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