The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House will consider 14 bills under suspension of the rules, including a vote on the Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans (AMERICA) Act (HR 5689), which improves provisions for federal resources’ building capacity and funding for risk-reducing, cost-effective mitigation projects for state, local, other related entities. The House will consider the Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act (HR 5641), which increases, to $1 million, the threshold for eligibility for assistance for what qualifies as a “small project” under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The House may also vote on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 (HR 3807), which provides an additional $42 billion to support restaurants impacted by COVID-19 and $13 billion for other “hard hit” industries.
Following a week-long procedural delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. The committee expects to produce an 11-11 deadlocked vote to move Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor later this evening. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will break the tie by filing a “motion to discharge.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced her intentions to vote for the nominee, making her the first Republican to support Judge Jackson. The Senate expects to take a final vote on the nomination by Thursday or Friday.
While Judge Jackson is the Senate’s top priority of the week, Congress will also work to finalize a COVID-19 relief package. Late last week, lawmakers reported a deal in principle on a $10 billion aid package. Congress hopes to pass the legislation this week, providing near-term assistance for therapeutics, testing supplies, and vaccines, among other supplies. This number is down from $15 billion, as Congress could not agree on how to offset $5 billion in appropriated funds slotted for foreign assistance. On Friday, thirteen House members sent a letter to House leadership urging the inclusion of the $5 billion in international aid in the supplemental bill. A few remaining sticking points include whether to include $1 billion in funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development for global vaccine implementation efforts and a Congressional Budget Office review of the bill to ensure the package is fully paid for.
Senate Democrats hope to rekindle negotiations on the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) remaining a critical voice. Many remain skeptical of the prospects of reviving the BBB Act. However, some lawmakers believe the period following the upcoming two-week spring recess is the ideal time to pivot to President Joe Biden’s social and climate bill. “You either do it before Memorial Day, or you’re not going to do it,” Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said candidly regarding a timeline for action on the measure. Sen. Manchin is on record about potential conversations regarding the BBB Act, saying, “there’s nothing serious.” The Senate will have approximately two months to work out challenges and differences on the bill.
For the remainder of this week, the House will hold several committee hearings, including a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on “FEMA Priorities for 2022 and the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan;” and a Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget With Health & Human Services Secretary Becerra.” Several Senate committees will also hold hearings, including an Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing on “A Review of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Submission for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation;” a Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on “Advancing Public Transportation in Small Cities and Rural Places under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law;” and an Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing to discuss “Implementation of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act: Stakeholders’ needs and experiences.” On Tuesday, the State of California will hold a special primary election for its 22nd Congressional District after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) resigned from Congress on January 1, 2022.
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