Window on Washington – Vol. 5, Issue 31 | JD Supra

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Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. The House is in recess for the rest of August, though the Senate is in session this week. Senate committees will hold a handful of hearings, including to consider numerous nominations and to examine the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Chuck Leader (D-NY) plans to hold votes on the bipartisan infrastructure deal and on the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. While the Senate is set to start their August recess on the 9th, if more floor time is needed for these votes, the Senate may delay the start of their summer recess and stay in session for an extra week.

FY22 Budget and Appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee will markup three bills this week: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA), Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (Ag), and Energy and Water Development (EW). The Committee has not yet released the draft bill text and report language for any of the bills, but they will do so over the course of today and into the rest of the week. Floor votes on these bills and markups on the remaining Senate appropriations bills will not occur until after the Senate returns from their August recess. The House will also continue working on their remaining appropriations bills after recess.

Infrastructure Package. The bipartisan group of senators involved in the infrastructure negotiations released the bill text late last night. Senator Schumer offered the bipartisan infrastructure deal, named the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” as a substitute amendment to H.R. 3684, the House-passed surface transportation bill. The bipartisan legislation calls for $550 billion in new spending for a range of physical infrastructure needs, including highways, rail, broadband, and the electric grid. The measure provides $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects, $39 billion for public transit, $66 billion for rail, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for drinking water and wastewater, and billions for airports, ports, and electric vehicle charging stations. There are also provisions around climate change, cybersecurity, revenue, and multiple authorizations. With the base bill text now finalized, the Senate will debate and vote on amendments this week.

While the Senate hopes to wrap up their votes on the bipartisan deal in the coming days before shifting gears to vote on the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, House members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus reiterated that their votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill are not guaranteed until both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the reconciliation bill are sent to the House. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has also insisted that the House will not consider the bipartisan legislation until the Senate also passes the larger reconciliation package that includes the Democratic-only priorities. With a slim Democratic majority in the House and the unlikelihood of Republican support for the reconciliation package, House Democrats will need to be on the same page before the infrastructure package is ready for a vote in their Chamber. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has also expressed there are changes he would like to see incorporated into the bipartisan deal.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital

CONGRESS

Budget & Appropriations

House Democrats Pass Earmark-Packed $600B Spending Bundle: The seven-bill “minibus,” which passed last Thursday in a 219-208 vote, would increase budgets at the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Small Business Administration, military construction activities at the Department of Defense, and more. The House also passed two bills last Wednesday that would provide about $67 billion for the State Department, foreign aid programs, and the Legislative Branch, largely along party lines. (Politico)

Commerce, Justice, Science Bill Vote Delayed: Concerns from Democrats in swing districts about policy provisions about new restrictions on federal grants for police departments derailed the House’s consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, which was originally scheduled to be voted on last week. The House will resume its consideration of the bill after they return from August recess. (Clark Hill Insight)

Schumer Says He Has Votes for Moving $3.5 Trillion Package: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said last Thursday that all 50 Democrats will vote to move forward on the party’s $3.5 trillion social spending proposal. While all 50 Democratic senators support beginning the process of passing the $3.5 trillion bill, the final price tag on the bill is not yet clear. (Politico)

Health

Mask Mandates Return to The Capitol, White House: Mask mandates returned to the House and the White House, while the Senate was strongly encouraged to use high-quality face coverings as well to help slow down the delta variant of COVID-19. Attending Physician Brian Monahan’s messages to the House and Senate made the same substantive point, that the new guidance last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding indoor mask use by fully vaccinated individuals in areas where the virus is spreading has led him to recommend that Congress follow suit. (Roll Call)

Education

Pelosi Rebuffs Schumer’s Push to Get Biden to Cancel Student Debt: Last Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected efforts by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other progressives to persuade President Joe Biden to unilaterally cancel large amounts of student loan debt, exacerbating a growing rift in the Democratic Party over the issue. Pelosi said that Biden lacks the executive authority to cancel student loan debt and also questioned the wisdom and fairness of such a policy, which has been a major priority for the left in recent years. (Politico)

Banking & Housing

AOC, Administration Spar on Eviction Moratorium: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) yesterday said Democrats cannot blame Republicans for the expiration of the eviction moratorium. “The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. … We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” the progressive New York Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This Court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking Congress to extend the moratorium.” (Politico)

Crypto/Blockchain

New Infrastructure Bill Looks to Raise $30B Through Crypto Taxes: The draft language could mean a number of individuals interacting with crypto may have to start reporting their transactions. (Coindesk)

Senator Warren Urges ‘Coordinated and Holistic’ Response to ‘Dangers’ of Crypto: Longtime crypto skeptic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is urging the government yet again to form a regulatory strategy to “mitigate the growing risks that cryptocurrencies pose to the financial system.” (Coindesk)

Tax Reform

Elizabeth Warren Makes Fresh Push for Wealth Tax: A wealth tax, one of the most hotly debated tax proposals, has grown in popularity with populist and progressive politicians as a means to combat economic inequality. (CNBC)

Transportation

Susan Collins Says Infrastructure Bill Has Enough Republican Support to Pass in Senate: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) predicted yesterday that the bipartisan infrastructure package will have enough Republican support to pass the chamber this week. (Politico)

T&I Chair DeFazio…

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