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Federal Legislative Update - Week of October 30th, 2023

Congress is back in session this week, with the House returning Wednesday and the Senate returning today. The government will shut down in 18 days without passage of another short-term spending bill.

After 22 days without a Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) won the election by a vote of 220-209. Speaker Johnson began his Speakership by saying his “first priority” is avoiding a government shutdown. In doing so, the House Leadership canceled the chamber’s originally scheduled two-week recess and will now be in session from Wednesday to Friday this week and Monday to Thursday next week. House Leadership hopes to finish passage of the chamber’s seven remaining FY 2024 Appropriation bills before the November 17 government funding deadline. Last Thursday, the House passedits FY 2024 Energy and Water appropriations bill. The House has passed five funding bills so far, leaving seven appropriations bills for FY 2024 to pass before November 17. If Congress cannot pass all 12 bills by Nov. 17, the Speaker is on record saying he will aim to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government through January 15, 2024.


Today, House Republicans introduced a standalone package which includes $14.3 billion in aid to Israel. House GOP leadership expects to introduce the bill early this week and vote on it Thursday. Speaker Johnson has said the aid package will receive an offset from budget cuts elsewhere, including rescinding $14.3 billion in unobligated funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) originally provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Questions remain if the House would pass legislation pairing funding for both Ukraine and Israel. While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to include aid for Ukraine in a funding package for Israel, his stance places him at odds with Speaker Johnson and some members of his own conference over the strategy. As support wanes among Senate Republicans, Leader McConnell’s approach to the aid package will be one to follow as it may have implications on the passage of short-term government funding legislation as Congress nears the November 17 funding deadline. 


The Senate is still considering its $280 billion FY 2024 Agriculture, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-HUD appropriations “minibus” package, including ten remaining amendments left to vote on. The Senate voted on an amendment from Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) last week to remove Congressionally Directed Spending projects for local and state projects from the minibus spending package. The amendment, which failed 35-62, would have removed $3.8 billion in earmarked dollars from 1,270 projects across the three spending bills. Five Senators who voted for the amendment secured FY24 earmarks for their state during the appropriations process, including Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Kennedy (R-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). After completing the amendment process, including the adoption of 27 amendments, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes the upper chamber will pass the package this week. The Senate may also vote to confirm Jack Lew as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.


The House will consider six suspension bills, all focusing on the war between Israel and Hamas. On Wednesday evening, the lower chamber will consider its versions of the FY24 Legislative BranchInterior-EPA, and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills. The House Republican Conference will vote on Speaker Johnson’s replacement as vice chair of the Conference on November 8. The House will also potentially vote on three resolutions, including an expulsion motion against Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), which requires two-thirds majority support from House members, a censure motion against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and a censure motion against Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Speaker Johnson told the House Republican Conference during a Sunday call that he would rather “beat Democrats on policy.” 


For the remainder of the week, the Senate will hold several hearings, including an Appropriations Committee hearing on “A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request;” an Environment & Public Works hearing on “The Science of Extreme Event Attribution: How Climate Change Is Fueling Severe Weather Events;” and a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on “AI and the Future of Work: Moving Forward Together.” 


Bills and Regulations of Interest to You

H.R. 3032 & S. 3020

Volunteer Driver Tax Appreciation Act

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-8) & Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Legislation would lower the financial burden that those volunteer drivers face by increasing the charitable mileage tax deduction rate for drivers from $0.14 to $0.655 per mile.


S. 3174

Flood Protection and Infrastructure Resilience Act

Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE)

Modifies the Department of Agriculture programs to improve flood protection and infrastructure resiliency. 


S. 3146

Reduce Food Loss and Waste Act

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to establish a voluntary program to reduce food loss and waste. 


H.R. 6107

Urban Canal Modernization Act

Rep. Michael Simpson (R-ID-2)

Allows the Bureau of Reclamation to authorize a 35% non-reimbursable cost share to help repair and rehabilitate “urban canals of concern,” canals through urban areas that would cause significant property damage or possible loss of life if the canal were to fail


H.R. 6098

Energy Choice Act

Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY-23)

Prohibits states or local governments from prohibiting the connection, reconnection, modification, installation, or expansion of an energy service based on the type or source of energy to be delivered.


H.R. 6082 & S. 3153

Emergency Advance Payments Modernization Act

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-2) & Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

Amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to establish a pilot program to increase the allowable amounts of advance payments under the National Flood Insurance Program.


H.R. 6064 & S. 3122

Don’t Develop Obstructive Infrastructure on our Terrain Act

Rep. Michael Simpson (R-ID-2) & Sen. James Risch (R-ID)

Amends the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to provide for the denial of certain applications for solar or wind energy development projects right-of-way applications.


H.R. 6053 & S. 3127

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2023

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA-2) & Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Amends the Solid Waste Disposal Act to reduce the production and use of certain single-use plastic products and packaging, to improve the responsibility of producers in the design, collection, reuse, recycling, and disposal of consumer products and packaging, to prevent pollution from consumer products and packaging from entering into animal and human food chains and waterways.


H.R. 6076 & S. 3156

Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act

Rep. Matt Cartwright (R-PA-8) & Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Establishes the Financing Energy Efficient Manufacturing Program at the Department of Energy to provide financial assistance to promote energy efficiency and onsite renewable technologies in manufacturing facilities.


S. 3117

Helping Open Underutilized Space to Ensure Shelter (HOUSES) Act of 2023

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Amends the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to authorize the sale of certain Federal land to States and units of local government to address housing shortages.