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Federal Legislative Update: Week of July 12, 2021

Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week while the House is in recess (however, virtual/hybrid House committee hearings/markups will occur this week).

The Senate will consider several of President Joe Biden’s executive nominees, including: Uzra Zeya to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and Julie Su to be Deputy Secretary of Labor. Several Senate committees will also meet to hold nomination hearings and/or advance additional nominees to the Senate floor, including: Alejandra Castillo to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development; Jane Nishida to be Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs of the Environmental Protection Agency; Jeffrey Prieto to be EPA’s General Counsel; Robert Santos to be Director of the Census Bureau; Jennifer Moffitt to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; Diawara Syed to be Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration; and Michael Connor to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

Democrats still need to work out major questions on the strategy for getting President Biden’s sweeping American Jobs and Families Plans through Congress with razor-thin majorities and competing factions. A bipartisan group of 22 senators are still working to turn their Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which would spend $1.2 trillion over eight years, into legislation amid skepticism that they will be able to find a way to convincingly pay for the bill. Meanwhile, Democrats are still haggling over a top-line figure (potentially around $3.5 trillion) for a separate, larger bill that they want to pass under budget reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate. On July 9, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed, in a Dear Colleague letter to the 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus, “for the Senate to consider both the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which is the first step for passing legislation through the reconciliation process” before the Senate is scheduled to leave for its summer recess on August 6. Schumer also wrote that “Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously-scheduled August state work period [August 7—September 12].”

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup of the $95 billion Energy Infrastructure Act, which aims to address policy issues including: energy grid reliability, cybersecurity, the supply chain for critical minerals, carbon capture technology investments, hydrogen and nuclear energy research and development, wildfire management, abandoned mine land reclamation, and western water infrastructure. Parts of the bill are expected to be included within the bipartisan infrastructure package.

The House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor—Health and Human Services—Education; Energy—Water Development; Commerce—Justice—Science; and Transportation—Housing and Urban Development are holding markups of their respective FY 2022 Appropriations bills on Monday. The full House Appropriations Committee will markup these four bills, in addition to the FY 2022 Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations bills, throughout the rest of this week. For the first time since FY 2010, the annual spending bills collectively include thousands of approved “Community Project Funding” requests (i.e., earmarks), which have been posted by the House Appropriations Committee on the same day as each subcommittee markup. Many, if not all, of the Committee’s twelve FY 2022 spending bills will be considered on the House floor during the weeks of July 19 and/or July 26, ahead of the August recess.

Last Week

  • Schumer warns August recess in danger as infrastructure work piles up READ MORE
  • Problem Solvers Caucus backs bipartisan infrastructure deal READ MORE
  • Democrat Jacky Rosen becomes 22nd senator to back bipartisan infrastructure deal READ MORE
  • Bipartisan spending deal meets fresh resistance from key Democrats READ MORE
  • Biden signs sweeping executive order that targets Big Tech and aims to push competition in US economy READ MORE
  • “Please get vaccinated”: Biden delivers remarks on COVID-19 response and vaccination program READ MORE
  • Biden shifts to pitching his American Families Plan, emphasizing Democratic priorities READ MORE
  • Biden Defends Afghan Pullout, Sets Evacuation for Interpreters READ MORE
  • McCarthy expected to appoint Republicans to Jan. 6 select committee READ MORE
  • Biden fires head of Social Security Administration, a Trump holdover who drew the ire of Democrats READ MORE
  • CDC Urges Schools to Welcome Kids Back, Vaccinated or No READ MORE
  • Pfizer, BioNTech to seek authorization for COVID booster shot as Delta variant spreads READ MORE