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Federal Legislative Update - March 13, 2023

The Senate is in session starting Tuesday. The House is in recess until Wednesday, March 22.

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget summaries. The $6.9 trillion budget request includes a 6.5% increase in nondefense discretionary spending and a 3% increase in total defense spending. Today, the Biden Administration began releasing agency-level budget details, which serves as an unofficial start to the fiscal year appropriations process. Congress, as always, acknowledges the president’s budget and proceeds on its own path to passing FY 2024 spending legislation. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) pledged to Republicans that the chamber would bring up the 12 appropriations bills individually in the 118th Congress while agreeing to an open amendment process. The individual passage of each spending bill will make for a complicated path to completing the appropriations process and heightens the potential for a continuing resolution at the end of Fiscal Year 2023 on September 30. As for a House Republican version similar to the president’s budget, House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) mentioned that his party is in “no rush” to present their budget proposal, and the expectation is an early to mid-May release.

After Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on Friday, Congress received a briefing from the Treasury Department regarding how best to contain the fallout from the bank's failure. The collapse marks the most significant failure of a bank since the 2008 financial crisis. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) will file cloture on a bill to repeal the authorizations for the use of military force against Iraq (S. 316). The bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) would end the authorized use of military force or AUMF as commonly referred to ends the 1991 and 2002 Iraq authorizations. Many are unsure of the bill’s path in the House following the vote in the Senate, but the bill could join the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as an amendment. The Senate will also vote on Brent Neiman's nomination as Deputy Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Finance and Development.

House Republicans have identified a large energy package titled the Lower Energy Costs Act (H.R. 1) as one of their top legislative priorities. The bill's contents include proposals aimed at streamlining the country’s approval process for energy and mining permitting processes and ensuring minerals for advanced technology come from the U.S. The bill will receive a formal introduction next week, and a vote on the bill should occur during the last week of March. Upon the House’s return next week, Republicans will continue investigations into the Biden Administration, led by Rep. James Comer (Ky.), the Chair of the House Oversight Committee. At the start of the 118th Congress, Republicans highlighted an approach to oversight and investigations calling to account various events and leadership within the Biden Administration. Thus far, the probes have included Covid-19, the migrant crisis at the border, oversight of the Office of Personnel Management, and pandemic spending. House Republicans will continue investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Ukraine aid, and the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

For the remainder of this week, the Senate will hold several committee hearings, including an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the “Implementing IIJA: Perspectives on The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act;” a Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on “Local Views on Public Transportation, Transit Infrastructure and Operations, and Federal Transit Programs;” a Budget Committee hearing on “The President's Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Proposal” with testimony from Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young; and a Finance Committee hearing on “The President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget” with testimony from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.