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Legislative Update

Senate. The Senate is hoping to finish work this week on an FY 2024 appropriations minibus that packages three bills – Agriculture/FDA, Military Construction/VA, and Transportation/HUD. Progress on the bill was delayed last week when Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) blocked consideration of a bipartisan package of amendments. Johnson wants each appropriations bill to be considered separately, not packaged with others, but there is bipartisan opposition to Johnson’s approach as this would add several weeks to floor time consideration. Senate leaders hope a resolution to this hurdle can be reached quickly.

Aside from legislative action, Senators will get a classified briefing Wednesday evening on the war in Ukraine and will have an in-person meeting Thursday morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

House. The House will kick off the week with consideration of bills under suspension of the rules, possibly including a package of healthcare bills. The healthcare legislation deals with, among other things, hospital pricing transparency and billing by pharmacy benefit managers. It also would extend a number of health programs set to expire on Sept. 30, including funding for community health centers. Republican leaders listed the healthcare bill on this week’s suspension calendar, but there is now talk that the bill will be removed from that list. The legislation is opposed by key Democrats, which could prevent the measure from garnering the two-thirds majority needed for passage of bills considered under suspension. Later in the week, under regular order, the House will vote on legislation dealing with the permitting process for the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The real focus this week, though, will be on two government spending bills. The FY 2024 Defense appropriations bill could come to the floor on Wednesday and a Continuing Resolution (CR) could be considered on Thursday. House leaders had planned to pass the Defense bill last week, but when they saw that there was not enough Republican support to pass the rule for floor consideration, they cancelled the vote on the rule. It is not a given that the rule will be approved this time around as the vote on the Defense bill is tied to a deal on the Continuing Resolution that is also in danger of falling short of passage.

The CR, which was unveiled Sunday night, was negotiated by three members each from the Main Street Caucus and the House Freedom Caucus. It would continue government funding for 31 days, through Oct. 31, but at a lower overall funding level than the current level. The CR provides that the FY 2023 spending levels would continue for defense and veterans programs but other programs would be cut by 8%. The proposal does not include President Biden’s request for $20 billion in aid for Ukraine nor the $16 billion for disaster relief but does make $20 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund available to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The CR also would impose new border and immigration restrictions, including provisions curtailing the ability of migrants to claim asylum in the U.S.

There is unified Democratic opposition to this CR proposal, and a number of hard-right Republicans have also voiced their objections, making it unclear as to whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy has the votes to even pass the rule for floor consideration much less the CR itself. What is clear, though, is that this measure will not be approved by the Senate. Consequently, there is still no clear path forward on a CR that can be approved by both chambers in order to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

Agriculture Bills. House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson (R-Pa.) said last week that he would release a draft of his panel’s farm bill after Congress agrees on a CR to keep the government open. The committee would then mark up the legislation, followed by a week’s worth of consideration on the House floor. As for the FY 2024 Agriculture/FDA spending bill that never made it out of the Rules Committee for a House floor vote in July, word is that the Republican leadership now has no plans to take it up. GOP leaders have been unsuccessful in rounding up enough support in their ranks due to disagreements over the total spending level and a provision that would ban mail delivery of abortion pills.

Budget Resolution. House Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) said last week that his panel will mark up an FY 2024 budget resolution this month, and it appears that the markup will be this Wednesday. The resolution will reportedly outline plans to balance the budget in 10 years (or possibly later). Even if the House were to approve the resolution (and there’s no guarantee that there will be a floor vote), the Senate will not consider it and will not take up a resolution of its own.

Committee Action of Note

Tuesday, September 19

  • Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Evading Accountability: Corporate Manipulation of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy”
  • Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care Hearing: “Aging in Place: The Vital Role of Home Health in Access to Care”
  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government: “Review of the FY 2024 Budget for the Federal Communications Commission”
  • Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight: “Advanced Technology: Examining Threats to National Security”
  • House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Hearing: “Chips on the Table: A one year review of the Chips and Science Act”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Hearing: “FEMA: The Current State of Disaster Readiness, Response, and Recovery”
  • House Oversight and Accountability Hearing: “The Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Prescription Drug Markets Part II: Not What the Doctor Ordered”
  • House Ways and Means Committee Hearing: “Reduced Care for Patients: Fallout from Flawed Implementation of Surprise Medical Billing Protections”
  • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Hearing: “Evaluating CISA’s Federal Civilian Executive Branch Cybersecurity Programs”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets Hearing: “Oversight on the SEC’s Division of Investment Management”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “Examining Barriers to Access in Federal Waters: A Closer Look at the Marine Sanctuary and Monument System”
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Hearing: “Examining the Biden Administration’s Mismanagement of the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Program”
  • House Armed Services Committee Hearing: “Defense Cooperation with Taiwan”
  • House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Hearing: “Bidenomics: A Perfect Storm of Spending, Debt, and Inflation”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy Hearing: “A Holistic Review of Regulators: Regulatory Overreach and Economic Consequences”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Hearing: “Use and Regulation of Autonomous and Experimental Maritime Technologies”

Wednesday, September 20

  • Senate Budget Committee Hearing: “Reducing Inequality, Fueling Growth: How Public Investment Promotes Prosperity for All”
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing to consider pending nominations, including Federal Trade Commission nominees
  • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing: “Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services”
  • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy Hearing: “Child Care Since the Pandemic: Macroeconomic Impacts of Public Policy Measures”
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power Hearing to examine Drought Impacts on Drinking Water Access and Water Availability
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions markup of various measures, including the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act
  • House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation Hearing: “Industry Perspectives on Defense Innovation and Deterrence”
  • House Homeland Security Committee Hearing: “The Financial Costs of Mayorkas’ Open Border”
  • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Hearing: “A Bar Too High: Concerns with CEQ’s Proposed Regulatory Hurdle for Federal Contracting”
  • House Financial Services Committee markup of various measures
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: “Oversight of the Department of Transportation’s Policies and Programs”
  • House Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice” with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Hearing: “Mapping America’s Supply Chains: Solutions to Unleash Innovation, Boost Economic Resilience, and Beat China”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “At What Cost: Oversight of How the IRA’s Price Setting Scheme Means Fewer Cures for Patients”
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Hearing: "American Hydropower: Unleashing Reliable, Renewable, Clean Power Across The U.S."
  • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: “Reforming the Generalized System of Preferences to Safeguard U.S. Supply Chains and Combat China”
  • House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hearing: “IP and Strategic Competition with China: Part III – IP Theft, Cybersecurity and AI”

Thursday, September 21

  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing: “Connecting Every American: The Future of Rural Broadband Funding”

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