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Federal Legislative Update: Week of September 13, 2021

Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session while the House is in recess this week. However, several House committees are holding virtual/hybrid markups and hearings.

The Senate will consider several judicial and executive nominations made by President Joe Biden, including: James Kvaal to be Under Secretary of Education; David Estudillo to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Washington; Angel Kelley to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts; and Veronica Rossman to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit. The Senate will also consider the motion to invoke cloture on a new compromise version of the For the People Act of 2021 (S. 2093), which makes changes to voting and campaign finance rules, including addressing a national requirement for voter identification, partisan gerrymandering, and the disclosure of “dark” campaign money. The bill is unlikely to overcome a 60-vote filibuster. Several Senate committees will also meet to advance executive nominations to the full Senate, including the Environment and Public Works Committee’s consideration of former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (responsible for overseeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

Eight House committees will complete markups of their parts of congressional Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, which incorporates large swaths of President Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans unveiled earlier this year. On Monday, the House Agriculture; Judiciary; Energy and Commerce; Financial Services; and Veterans Affairs Committees will hold their markups. On Tuesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Homeland Security Committees will hold their markups. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will complete its markup “to combat the climate crisis, create jobs, encourage economic and affordable housing development, extend tax cuts for workers and families, lower health care costs, and reinstate key tools to help states and localities finance investments, as well as measures on funding these priorities.” Five House committees have already completed their markups: Oversight and Reform; Natural Resources; Small Business; Science, Space and Technology; and Education and Labor. The House committees face a Wednesday, September 15 deadline to markup their sections and send them to the House Budget Committee for a final markup. The earliest the House will consider the legislation is during the week of September 20, however, this timeline could easily slip to the week of September 27 or early October.

During the week of September 20, the House will vote on the $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (H.R. 4350), which the House Armed Services Committee approved by a vote of 57-2 on September 2. The annual NDAA authorizes the appropriation of budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD), in addition to containing provisions governing the number of military personnel, rates of their compensation, DoD organization, weapons acquisition policy, and other aspects of U.S. national security policy. The FY22 bill includes $549 million in dedicated funding for the cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at DoD sites, where the chemicals are used in firefighting foams.

The House and Senate will also need to pass a short-term spending bill (i.e., Continuing Resolution [CR]) by Thursday, September 30 to temporarily fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown beginning the first day of Fiscal Year 2022 on October 1. The House will likely vote on the CR during the week of September 20, and the CR will likely last through either December 3 or 10, 2021. Additional items that will very likely be part of the CR include: a suspension or increase of the federal debt limit; a short-term extension of the federal surface transportation programs included in the 2015 FAST Act; a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); a short-term extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant authorization and other related programs; and emergency supplemental appropriations to address Hurricane Ida and other storms and natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. In a blog post last week, White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young wrote that the Biden Administration is requesting the short-term CR include over $30 billion in emergency funds for disaster relief and aid for Afghan refugees, in addition to funding “anomalies,” or deviations from simple extensions of funding provided in appropriations last year for FY 2021.

Last Week

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