Federal Legislative Update: Week of May 31, 2022
Congress is out of session following Memorial Day.
Even with Congress out, the House Judiciary Committee will hold an emergency hearing on Thursday to mark up a gun-control bill called the Protecting Our Kids Act. The package will consider a wide range of gun-control measures, including raising the lawful age of purchasing a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old, creating limits and regulations to bump stocks, placing higher penalties for gun trafficking, and other methods to lower gun violence. While the House will bring the omnibus bill for a vote early next week, the Senate will not receive enough votes to reach the 60-vote threshold. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) sighted his optimism about passing gun legislation following the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings. “There is more interest in talking about finding a path forward this time than I have ever seen,” Murphy said in an interview. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) directed Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to work on a legislative proposal with the White House and Senate Democrats on a potential compromise. Sens. Murphy and Cornyn will work on a narrower package, including “red flag” laws and the expansion of background checks. Many believe there is growing openness from Senate Republicans to support “red flag” laws, but limited confidence exists around background checks.
Today, President Joe Biden will meet with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as inflation continues to impact the country. Many continue to speculate on what is to blame for inflation. Some point to delays in the supply chain emerging due to the pandemic. At the same time, others criticized the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package for pushing too much money into the economy as the primary source of inflation. President Biden published an op-ed laying out a three-step plan. First, Biden calls for the Federal Reserve to serve as the lead in fighting inflation, the second revolves around making goods more affordable, and the third part comes through what the President calls “common-sense reforms to the tax code.” The plan will need Congress’ support for most of the actions. As noted previously, Congress has a limited amount of time to implement any legislative priorities with the mid-terms in November.
When Congress returns on June 6, most of the attention will remain on gun control and abortion rights. Congress will also focus on finalizing a conference report reconciling differences between the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USCIA) of 2021 (S. 1260) and the House-passed America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) remarked on her hopes to pass a final version by the July 4 Independence Day Holiday. States across the country will continue primary elections before the November mid-term elections. Finally, Member offices are posting their selected Congressionally Directed Spending/Community Project Funding requests for Fiscal Year 2023.
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