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Federal Legislative Update - Week of May 21st, 2024

House and Senate Action

Both chambers are in session, though they will adjourn for the Memorial Day recess on Thursday.

 The House will gavel in this afternoon. The chamber has a full slate of bills on the suspension calendar (requires 2/3 majority for passage), including legislation (H.R. 5863) that would provide tax relief to victims of a qualified wildfire or hurricane, as well as losses resulting from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment. It should be noted that the measure was originally included as part of a larger tax package that has been stalled since January. Later in the week, the lower chamber will consider a bill (H.R. 192) that would prohibit individuals who are not U.S. citizens from voting in D.C. elections. The full House agenda is available here.

 Across Capitol Hill, the Senate is expected to vote on a border security and immigration package this week. The measure, which is not expected to advance, mirrors the bipartisan compromise that collapsed earlier this year. Pursuant to the legislation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to close the border to illegal crossings if the daily average of encounters surpasses 5,000 migrants, or if a one-day total surpasses 8,500. However, DHS would have the authority to shut down the border at 4,000 encounters per day. Once the mandatory shutdown is enforced, it would require two weeks of significantly lower illegal crossings in order to reopen the border to crossings, other than asylum appointments, at ports of entry. Notably, the package does not include provisions that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented individuals. It should be noted that a handful of Democrats view the policy changes as too extreme and will therefore oppose consideration of the bill. Many Republicans, on the other hand, do not believe the reforms go far enough and view this effort as a political exercise meant to provide a boost to vulnerable Democrats. The daily Senate schedule can be accessed here.

House Ag Committee to Consider GOP Farm Bill Reauthorization Package

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee will mark up a $1.5 trillion Farm Bill reauthorization package. The legislation, which totals 942 pages and is still in draft form, would fund programs across 12 separate titles for a period of five years. The Republican-authored bill faces stiff opposition from Senate Democrats and the Biden administration due to proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the removal of climate change mitigation requirements for conservation investments. With regard to SNAP, the draft bill would limit future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, which provides the basis for calculating nutrition benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the policy change would reduce SNAP by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. While the legislation is expected to be approved by the House Agriculture Committee, it remains unclear if GOP leaders will have sufficient votes to pass the measure on the floor.

Relevant Hearings and Markups

 House Agriculture – On Thursday morning, lawmakers will meet to consider a Farm Bill reauthorization package. Additional details on the markup, including a livestream of the event, will become available here.

 Senate Environment and Public Works – On Wednesday morning, the panel will consider six bills, including the biennial Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Following the markup, the committee will hold a hearing on efforts to improve reuse and recycling. More info on the hearing can be found here.

 Senate Energy and Natural Resources – On Tuesday morning, the committee will hold a hearing to examine the opportunities, risks, and challenges associated with growth in demand for electric power in the United States. More info on the hearing, including a full witness list, is available here.

 Senate Budget Committee – On Wednesday morning, the panel will hold a hearing entitled, “Droughts, Dollars and Decisions: Water Scarcity in a Changing Climate.” Additional information on the hearing can be found here.

 Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation – This afternoon, the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports, will meet to examine the causes of the roadway safety crisis, including unique risks to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, and how Congress can support a holistic approach to roadway safety. A livestream of the event will be available here, beginning at 2:30pm ET.