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Federal Legislative Update: Week of April 19, 2021

Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 23 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 396), which provides recipients of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transit Security Grants additional time to use funds for large capital projects; and the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021 (H.R. 1996), which allows banks and credit unions to provide financial services to state-authorized cannabis businesses without federal penalties. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act (H.R. 1333), which limits the president’s authority to use proclamations to bar entry into the U.S. by any class of noncitizens; the Access to Counsel Act of 2021 (H.R. 1573), which requires DHS to provide access to legal counsel and personal contacts for individuals during screening processes at the U.S. border; and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), which admits the vast majority of the current District of Columbia as the 51st state, to be called the “State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” and provides full voting representation in the House and Senate on behalf of the 712,000 residents of Washington, D.C.

The Senate will consider the nominations of Lisa Monaco to be Deputy Attorney General; current U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler to be a member of the SEC for a term expiring June 5, 2026; and Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General. The Senate will complete consideration and vote this week on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937), which directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to designate an official to speed review of COVID-19-related hate crimes of Asian Americans reported to federal, state or local officials and calls on DOJ to coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of hate crimes and expand public education campaigns to prevent attacks.

The Senate will then begin consideration of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (S. 914), which authorizes the investment of more than $35 billion in water infrastructure projects across the country that “focus on upgrading our aging infrastructure, addressing the threat of climate change, investing in new technologies, and providing assistance for marginalized communities.” The bill includes nearly $30 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF) and an additional $6 billion in grant funding over fiscal years 2022—2026.

Several Cabinet members this week will testify to relevant House Appropriations subcommittees to speak about President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget outline to Congress, including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge.

On Wednesday, the 50-member Senate Republican Conference will formally vote, by secret ballot, on whether to reinstate earmarks (i.e., Community Project Funding requests) and whether a “permanent ban” on earmarks in their conference rules (most recently renewed in May 2019) actually prevents members from requesting home-state projects in annual appropriations bills. A majority of House Republicans and House and Senate Democratic leadership have all come out in favor of bringing back and utilizing earmarks beginning in FY2022.

President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who formerly served as mayors or governors, as outreach continues on his $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan proposal. The group, which included Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Carlos Giménez (R-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Norma Torres (D-CA), and Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Angus King (I-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), discussed “historic investments in the American Jobs Plan including in highways, drinking water systems, broadband and the care economy.” On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on “The American Jobs Plan: Infrastructure, Climate Change, and Investing in Our Nation’s Future,” with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, EPA Administrator Regan, and HUD Secretary Fudge.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders on Tuesday, and Biden will take a virtual tour of a South Carolina electric battery facility. Biden will speak about the pandemic and vaccinations on Wednesday. And on Thursday and Friday, Biden will host the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, along with 40 other world leaders, to coincide with Earth Day on April 22.

Last Week

  • House passes bill to combat gender pay gap READ MORE
  • House passes bill to prevent violence in health care workplaces READ MORE
  • Senate confirms Polly Trottenberg as deputy transportation secretary READ MORE
  • Senate confirms Biden’s pick to lead White House environmental council READ MORE
  • Gary Gensler, outspoken Wall Street critic, confirmed to lead the SEC READ MORE
  • Democrats signal limited patience for GOP opposition to Biden infrastructure package READ MORE
  • Biden insists he’s willing to negotiate with Republicans on infrastructure READ MORE
  • Top Republican Says Senate GOP Could Be Open to Smaller Infrastructure Bill READ MORE
  • Senate Republicans at war over earmarks READ MORE
  • DeFazio: Members may get up to $20M each for earmarks READ MORE
  • The child care industry collapsed during COVID-19, so Biden’s giving it $39B from the stimulus READ MORE
  • White House funnels $1.7 billion to help track and fight coronavirus variants READ MORE
  • Biden signs bill delaying 2% Medicare sequester pay cut until 2022 READ MORE
  • Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees READ MORE
  • Biden prepares sweeping order on climate-related risks READ MORE
  • U.S. seeks to polish tarnished reputation with new climate change pledges READ MORE
  • Sources: Biden picks Tommy Beaudreau for No. 2 Interior spot READ MORE
  • Biden to Make Historic Census Director Pick with Latinx Statistician Rob Santos READ MORE
  • Biden Names N.S.A. Veteran to Be First National Cyber Director READ MORE
  • Biden rolls back Trump’s anti-abortion curbs on family planning funds READ MORE
  • Pause of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine likely to be lifted by Friday, Fauci says READ MORE
  • Annual Covid-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Likely Needed, Pfizer CEO Says READ MORE