Federal Legislative Update: Week of February 28, 2022
The House and Senate are in session this week. Congress will focus on an aid package to Ukraine, the confirmation process of President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, President Biden’s State of the Union address, and completion of a Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 omnibus spending package.
The House will consider 8 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2021 (S. 1543), which provides best practices on student suicide awareness and prevention training and helps states and local entities establish and implement a school-based student suicide awareness and prevention training policy. The House will also debate and vote on the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2021 (HR 3967), which ensures care and benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances while serving in the military. Today, the Senate will potentially hold two roll call votes, the first on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the House-passed Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (HR 3755), which ensures national access to an abortion, as the Supreme Court weighs a court case that challenges Roe v. Wade; and the second on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the House-passed Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 (HR 3076), which addresses the finances and operations of the U.S. Postal Service.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union (SOTU) address. Biden’s address marks his first SOTU speech and his second address to a joint session of Congress since taking office on January 20, 2021. White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond said President Biden would use the SOTU address to share accomplishments and challenges from his first year in office. “I think what the president will do is lay out his vision for the next year,” Richmond said. Typically, the White House will release a preview of each President’s address, and many expect that to happen sometime right before the speech. The President’s speech will highlight COVID-19 progress, the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the fight against inflation, America’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, among other legislative items. The White House has told House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) of plans to release the Biden Administration’s FY 2023 budget proposal shortly following the SOTU.
This past Friday, President Biden announced his nomination of 51-year old Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve a lifetime appointment as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Biden Administration moved forward with the decision after considering delaying the announcement given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Judge Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and served as a clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer in 1999-2000, whom she would replace if confirmed to the nation’s highest court. Her confirmation to the D.C. Circuit in June 2021 was approved by a bipartisan vote of 53-44 in the Senate, with three GOP senators, Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voting in support with all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) hopes to begin Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing beginning March 21. “We will begin immediately to move forward on her nomination with the careful, fair, and professional approach she and America are entitled to,” Durbin said in a press release. Senate Democrats have set a goal to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson by April 8, ahead of the chamber’s two-week Spring recess. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) congratulated Judge Jackson on her nomination and called for a “rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson’s nomination as befits a lifetime appointment to our highest Court.”
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth day, the White House has asked Congress for $6.4 billion in assistance to the Ukrainian government. This aid would allocate $3.5 billion in funding for troop deployment and support to NATO allies and $2.9 billion in foreign security and humanitarian assistance. The White House has deployed 12,000 troops to Europe, with an additional deployment of 7,000 to Germany on Thursday. As Congress negotiates an FY22 spending package ahead of the March 11 funding deadline, aid to Ukraine will be a likely addition to the bill. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) shared her support for the Ukrainian aid package. “My colleagues and I are carefully monitoring the situation and stand ready to provide assistance both to our Ukrainian partners and to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe as they confront this crisis,” DeLauro said. The White House has deployed 12,000 troops to Europe, with an additional deployment of 7,000 to Germany on Thursday. The U.S has joined other countries condemning the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has levied heavy sanctions.
For the remainder of this week, several House committee hearings will be held, including an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled “From Recession to Recovery: Examining the Impact of the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds;” a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on “COVID Child Care Challenges: Supporting Families And Caregivers;” and an Agriculture Committee hearing on “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Commodity Group Perspectives on Title 1.” Several Senate committees will also hold several hearings, including: an Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on the “Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by the U.S. Department of Transportation;” and an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to “Review FERC’s recent guidance on natural gas pipelines.” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will also testify before the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees to deliver his Semiannual Monetary Report to Congress.
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