Federal Legislative Update - April 24th, 2023
Congress is in session this week, featuring a busy week in the House as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hopes to garner enough support to pass his party’s proposal to prevent a federal default.
Speaker McCarthy introduced the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, the bill serving as the House Republican plan to address the debt limit issue. Core to the proposal is the suspension of the current debt ceiling of $31.4 through either March 31, 2024, or a $1.5 trillion increase (whichever comes first.) The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has yet to score the bill after the Speaker said the plan would save $4.5 trillion over the next decade. Speaker McCarthy’s plan alleges to save $3.2 trillion by returning to Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 discretionary spending levels, then growing 1 percent annually over a decade. The plan also would repeal energy tax credits and rescind unused COVID relief funds estimating savings of $300 billion. A similar proposal failed as a Senate amendment to the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S. 870) vote last week. This proposal, which many cite as “clawback,” would rescind unobligated funds from local communities made available by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2). After newly available tax revenue data from the Treasury Department, an updated estimate on the debt limit deadline will release this week or next. The updated estimate could provide additional clarity after the estimates have ranged from July to September.
Most importantly, House Republican leadership worked over the weekend to ensure full support from the Republican Conference. With a slim majority, the Speaker can only lose four votes from Republicans, as no House Democrats will support the measure. The House Freedom Caucus is currently asking for work requirements for food stamp recipients to begin in 2024 instead of 2025, increasing the required hours. On voting timing, the House Rules Committee will mark up the bill starting Tuesday afternoon and benefit for potential passage with the House remaining in session until Friday. In a television interview, the Speaker said, “We will hold a vote this week and we will pass it.”
On Wednesday, the upper chamber will vote on the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2023 (S. 326) to direct the VA to study the effects of cannabis use on veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain. A potential vote is scheduled for S.J. Res. 11, nullifying the Environmental Protection Agency rule relating to Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards (88 Fed. Reg. 4296). The rule modifies emission standards to reduce air pollution, including ozone and particulate matter, from heavy-duty engines and vehicles. The Senate will also vote on several Biden Administration nominees, including Joshua Jacobs, to be Under Secretary for Benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs
House and Senate appropriators and authorizing committees continue to hold FY 2024 budget oversight hearings with the heads of federal departments and agencies this week, including the Departments of Commerce, Veterans Affairs, and the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Forest Service, the US Geological Survey, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit will hold a hearing on “Producer Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill,” the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a nomination hearing for “Julie Su to be Secretary of Labor,” and the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on “The Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program: FEMA’s Perspective.”
Bills and Regulations of Interest to You
The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2023
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
Establishes a pilot grant program to improve recycling accessibility, and for other purposes.
Recycling and Composting Accountability Act
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
Requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out certain activities to improve recycling and composting programs in the United States, and for other purposes.
Rural Decentralized Water Systems Reauthorization Act
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) & Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL-7)
Amends the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to modify provisions relating to rural decentralized water systems grants.
The Climate Change Relief for Urban Areas Act of 2023
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-30)
Prioritizes urban and community forestry assistance for areas with low tree equity scores, to establish a grant program to enhance public elementary and secondary school rooftop gardens, and for other purposes.