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Federal Legislative Update: Week of June 14, 2021

Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in session, for the first time since May 20. The House will consider 22 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Local Water Protection Act (H.R. 2008), which authorizes $200 million for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for an Environmental Protection Agency program that provides grants to states for mitigating water pollution originating from diffuse sources; and the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R. 468), which allows airports to use federal Airport Improvement Program grants to make incentive payments to contractors that finish construction projects early. The House will spend the remainder of the week voting on the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act (H.R. 1187), which requires publicly traded companies to disclose information on climate risks, political spending, tax jurisdictions, and executive pay raises; and a bill (H.R. 256) which repeals the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that authorized U.S. military operations in Iraq.

The Senate will vote on several of President Joe Biden’s judicial and executive nominees, including Ketanji Brown Jackson to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; Lina Khan to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for a term expiring September 26, 2024; and Kiran Ahuja to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

A group of five Democratic and five Republican senators, led by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rob Portman (R-OH), last Thursday announced an agreement on a “compromise framework” to invest $1.2 trillion in infrastructure over the next eight years (or $974 billion over five years). The package includes more funding than the Republican offers that were unveiled last month, but is still less than the $2.25 trillion President Biden put forward on March 31 as part of his American Jobs Plan proposal. Early schisms emerged even before the group of 10 Senators formally released full details of their proposal. For one thing, the proposal is expected to hew largely to a more traditional definition of infrastructure — a contrast with the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which seek to target some spending at families and schools. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signaled on Sunday that her party is not willing to back down in pursuing those investments as part of either infrastructure reform or another future economic package.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a markup for the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 (S. 2016), which authorizes $78 billion over five years to address key infrastructure and safety priorities broken out as follows: $27.8 billion for multimodal grant programs, $36 billion for rail, $13 billion for safety, and $1 billion for research programs. The bill for the first time authorizes USDOT’s BUILD/RAISE grant program at $1.5 billion annually for each of FYs 2022—2026 and creates a new program to fund big dollar value projects of national significance at $2 billion annually for each of FYs 2022—2026.

House Democrats plan to allow appropriators to get started on fiscal year 2022 spending bills before releasing a full budget resolution, potentially saving that measure to pave a path forward for infrastructure and other legislative priorities. House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) on Friday introduced a resolution (H. Res. 467) to set a $1.506 trillion limit on regular discretionary appropriations for FY 2022. The “deeming resolution” would set top-line spending levels in lieu of a full budget resolution. The $1.506 trillion is roughly $15 billion below what President Biden called for in his proposed FY 2022 budget, which includes $769.6 billion for nondefense discretionary spending and $752.9 billion for defense. The House will pass H. Res. 467 on Monday evening as part of a rule the chamber will adopt for other bills being voted on later this week.

Several Cabinet members this week will testify before various House and Senate committees and subcommittees to discuss President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request to Congress, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

Representative-elect Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), a former White House OMB and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staffer (and current state legislator), will be sworn-in as a member of the House on Monday. Following her swearing-in, the makeup of the House will consist of 220 Democrats, 211 Republicans, and 4 vacancies

Last Week

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