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Federal Legislative Update: Week of May 24, 2021

Congressional Outlook

The House is in recess while the Senate is in session (however, numerous House committees will hold virtual hearings and markups). Hearings of note include: a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing on “The CLEAN Future Act and Drinking Water: Legislation to Ensure Drinking Water is Safe and Clean”; and a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife hearing on “The Status of Drought Conditions Throughout the Western United States.”

The Senate will complete consideration of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260), which authorizes $200 billion over five years for federal programs to support manufacturing, telecommunications, and research in the U.S., with the aim of increasing competitiveness with, and reducing reliance on, China. The Senate will also vote on several Biden Administration nominations, including: Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. The Senate may also begin consideration of the House-passed National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act (H.R. 3233), which creates a 10-person bipartisan, independent Commission to “investigate and report upon the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex [and] investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures.”

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will markup the $303.5 billion Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, which authorizes U.S. Department of Transportation programs for highways, roads, and bridges for fiscal years (FYs) 2022 through 2026. A detailed section-by-section summary of the legislation is available here. Several other Senate committees have still not yet marked up their respective sections of the upcoming multi-year surface transportation authorization bill, including the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee (responsible for transit provisions); the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee (responsible for rail provisions); and the Senate Finance Committee (responsible for financing provisions). The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will markup its version of the legislation in mid-late June. The current one-year extension of the 2015 FAST Act expires on September 30, 2021.

President Joe Biden will unveil his Administration’s detailed $1.5 trillion FY 2022 budget request to Congress on Friday, seven weeks after the Administration’s initial release of its FY22 budget blueprint on April 9. Several Cabinet members this week will testify to House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees to discuss President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Other FY 2022 budget hearings include officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The House Appropriations Committee is planning a roughly three-week sprint from late June to mid-July to mark up all dozen FY 2022 spending bills. The twelve subcommittees are tentatively scheduled to markup their respective bills between June 24—July 12, with full committee markups held between June 29—July 16. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has said he wants to pass all the spending bills before the August recess, which is currently slated to begin in the House after votes on Friday, July 30. That may require the use of packaging several bills together to save time, a tactic that has been employed frequently in recent years. House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) said last week that House Democrats will likely ditch a traditional budget resolution for FY 2022, instead adopting a stripped-down shell blueprint to allow the use of budget reconciliation as well as a “deeming” resolution to set a topline discretionary appropriations cap for House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to divvy up among the dozen subcommittees

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