The House and Senate are in session. The two chambers will continue to work on outstanding legislative items before Election Day, which is just 50 days away.
This week, the House will consider 26 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act (S 3157), which would require the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study of the factors affecting employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with professional credentials obtained in foreign countries. The House also will vote on the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022 (HR 1456), which authorizes $861 million for the Peace Corps for fiscal 2023 and 2024 and benefits and would expand protections for volunteers. The Senate will continue voting on court nominations.
Congress now only has two weeks to finalize a stopgap government funding package, known as a continuing resolution (CR). Funds for the federal government expire on September 30 at midnight. Many expect an introduction of the stopgap legislation sometime this week. The main legislative items that may accompany the CR are permitting reform and various types of relief aid.
The first issue, permitting reform, was a critical component of the negotiations on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) between Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Sen. Manchin agreed to support the IRA, providing social and climate funding and policy changes in exchange for permitting reform in the weeks following. Following the passage of the climate and health care legislation, the issue of overhauling permitting faces significant pushback from progressives within the Democratic party in both the House and Senate. Sen. Manchin said last week on the prospects of passing the permitting reform legislation that his fellow West Virginia Senator, Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), who is working with the Republican Conference on the issue, would need to convince 20 members to vote for his legislation. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said Friday that he opposes the bill joining Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which would expand the total to 12 Republican votes needed to meet the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.
Relief aid is the second issue that could get added to the CR. The White House has requested $47 billion in funding for Ukraine, COVID-19, monkeypox, and disaster relief. On Sunday, President Biden said in a 60 Minutes interview that “the pandemic is over.” This comment will further complicate the funding request that the administration has shared with Congress and hopes for its funding in the CR. Before Congress returned to session, the White House requested over $22 billion for “immediate short-term domestic needs, including testing, and to support the global response to COVID-19.” Republicans have maintained opposition to increased COVID-19 funding, which some believe could get dropped from the bill.
The House and Senate will hold several hearings for the remainder of the week, including a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on “Putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to work, focusing on state and local perspectives.” The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on the “Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act of 2022,” an Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing on “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on Title II Conservation Programs” and a Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Critical Infrastructure Preparedness and Resilience: A Focus on Water.”