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Federal Legislative Update - Week of November 6, 2023

Congress is back in session this week, with the House and the Senate returning today. The federal government will shut down in 12 days without the passage of another short-term spending bill.

For the House to pass a funding bill to avoid a shutdown beginning on November 18, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and House GOP leadership must act soon. One sticking point among House Republicans is adhering to the 72-hour rule, which allows members three days to consider legislation prior to a vote on the House floor. When considering a stopgap Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government, adhering to the rule may prove critical for the House Republican Conference. The House Republican Conference will meet on Tuesday to discuss options going forward, although House Republicans will very likely wait to place a spending bill on the floor until next week. The Speaker has already indicated that he will likely aim to pass a CR funding the government through mid-January 2024. One option that Speaker Johnson may use is a clean government spending bill. Another potential is a laddered approach to the CR. The laddered CR would extend funding to federal agencies for different periods of time. However, its leading proponent, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), has yet to make clear how long different agencies would receive stopgap funding. The laddered CR has very little potential of passing in the Senate.

Speaker Johnson hopes to pass all twelve FY24 appropriations bills by the Nov. 17 government shutdown deadline. Currently, the House has passed 7 bills. This week, the House will consider its versions of the FY 2024 Transportation-HUD (H.R. 4820) and Financial Services-General Government (H.R. 4664) appropriations bills, with the Transportation-HUD bill facing $26 billion in cuts to the agencies. The White House has already issued veto threats for each of these spending bills. Passing these bills would bring the count to 9, leaving the three most contentious bills, the Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bills for potential consideration during the week of Nov. 13.

Last week, the Senate passed a $280 billion Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD “minibus” by an overwhelming vote of 82-15. Last week, the House also passed its version of the FY 2024 Interior-Environment appropriations bill on a near party-line vote of 213-203. The bill includes a $4 billion or 39% spending cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the potential to curtail improvements to drinking water and reductions to water pollution. The White House has already threatened to veto the House version of the bill. House and Senate leaders will need to bridge the gap on funding discrepancies between their respective sets of FY24 spending bills over the next two months to avoid being forced to pass another CR in January.

The House will consider six suspension bills, including votes on preservations of land and for two national monuments. The House Republican Conference will also vote on Speaker Johnson’s replacement as Vice Chair of the House GOP Conference on November 8, a position vacated by now-Speaker Johnson when he assumed his new role on Oct. 25. The Senate may also vote to confirm Monica Bertagnolli to be Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Kenly Kiya Kato to be a U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California; Julia Kobick to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts; and Ramon Reyes Jr.  to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

For the remainder of the week, the Senate will hold several hearings, including an Appropriations Committee hearing on “A Review of the President’s Supplemental Request for the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security;” an Environment & Public Works hearing on “Understanding Roadway Safety: Examining the Causes of Roadway Safety Challenges and Possible Interventions;” an Environment & Public Works hearing on “Accessing Clean Water Infrastructure Assistance: Small, Rural, Disadvantaged, and Underserved Communities;” and a Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on “Sustainable Tourism for a Thriving Economy.” 

The states of Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia will hold elections on Tuesday. Among the many races voters will consider this week are governorships, key state legislative seats, and policy issues such as abortion, all of which are sure to have a longstanding impact on next year’s 2024 election. Voters in Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district will elect their new member of Congress for the remainder of the 118th Congress. The Democratic nominee, Gabe Amo, who previously served as the former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs from January 2021 to April 2023, is likely to win this race in a district President Biden won by 29 percentage points in 2020. Amo’s victory would give Democrats their 213th seat in the House (as compared to the 221 seats currently held by the House GOP majority).


Bills and Regulations of Interest to You

H.R. 6142

Linking Access to Spur Technology for Agriculture Connectivity in Rural Environments (LAST ACRE) Act

Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN-1)

Amends the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to establish a last acre program.


H.R. 6178

Bidirectional Electric Vehicle Charging Act

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC-3)

Requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a National Electric Vehicle Bidirectional Charging Roadmap.


H.R. 6185

Guaranteeing Reliable Infrastructure Development (GRID) Act

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC-3)

Requires coordination among federal agencies on regulatory actions that affect the reliable operation.


H.R. 6194

Cell Site Simulator Warrant Act

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-36)

Amends title 18, United States Code, to regulate the use of cell-site simulators.


H.R. 6198

Building Up Infrastructure for Local Departments (BUILD) Act

Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH-1)

Supports infrastructure investment in small law enforcement agencies and small fire departments.


H.R. 6199 & S. 3216

Build More Housing Near Transit Act

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-50) & Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Amends title 49, United States Code, to include affordable housing incentives in certain capital investment grants.


H.R. 6202 & S. 3214

Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7) & Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)

Diverts federal funding away from supporting the presence of police in schools and toward evidence-based and trauma informed services that address the needs of marginalized students and improve academic outcomes.


S. 3206

Bill to study barriers to farmers and ranchers

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Provides for a study on the accessibility of substance use disorder treatment and mental health care providers and services for farmers and ranchers.


S. 3208

Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Provides for a biennial budget process and a biennial appropriations process and to enhance oversight and the performance of the Federal Government.


S. 3210

Supplemental Appropriations to Respond to the Attacks on Israel

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS)

Bill would make emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the attacks in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024.