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Legislative Update - March 27, 2023

Both chambers are back in session this week, packed with Congressional hearings featuring Biden Administration officials. This is the last week of votes for lawmakers until April 17, with most of the legislative priorities left to address.

The Rules Committee will prepare the Lower Energy Costs Act (H.R. 1), which aims to lower energy costs by increasing American energy production, exports, infrastructure, and critical minerals processing, by promoting transparency, accountability, permitting, and production of American resources, and by improving water quality certification and energy projects, and for other purposes. The Rules Committee will draft a rule for the package of bills, including sifting through the 167 submitted amendments. The eventual energy bill could get added to a finalized debt-limit legislation, which Congress has until the summer to act on. The House will also vote on 4 suspensions bills. The Senate may vote on the House-passed Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution disapproving the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) final rule. Several Senators are absent due to illnesses that may prolong the delay of the vote, and others in the upper chamber.

Leaders of the Biden Administration will continue to appear at hearings on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget this week. Appropriators will hear testimony on the House side from Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, Environmental and Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Robert Califf, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration David Pekoske, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, and Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Jen Easterly. Both House and Senate appropriators will hear from Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

For the remainder of the week, the House will hold several hearings, including a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on “Reviewing the Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act;” and an Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education hearing on “Addressing the Challenges of Rural America.” The Senate will hold hearings, including an Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee hearing on “Forestry In The Farm Bill: The Importance Of America's Forests;” a Rules and Administration hearing on “State And Local Perspectives On Election Administration;” and Environment and Public Works Committee hearing “The EPA Good Neighbor Rule: Healthier Air for Downwind States.”

Bills and Regulations of Interest to You

H.R. 1241

Broadband Incentives for Communities Act

Rep. Fletcher

Creates a grant program to provide local and state governments with the resources to facilitate, modernize, and streamline broadband upgrades and deployment.

H.R. 1236S.540

Protect the West Act of 2023

Rep. Crow, Sen. Bennet

Legislation would invest $60 billion in our forests to reduce wildfire risk, restore watersheds, and protect communities.

H.R. 1407

Financing Lead Out of Water Act

Rep. Kildee

Allows bonds issued by public water utilities to finance the replacement of private lead service lines to bypass the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) “private business use test.”

H.R. 1520

Reauthorization of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant

Reps. Stanton, Veasey, & Fitzpatrick

Provides grants to state, local and tribal governments to support initiatives that will reduce fossil fuel emissions and conserve energy.

H.R. 1721S. 806

Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act (Healthy H2O Act)

Rep. Pingree, Sen. Baldwin

Provides grants for water testing and treatment technology directly to individuals and nonprofits in rural communities. Water quality improvement systems installed at the faucet or within a building can provide immediate and ongoing protections from known and emerging water contaminants, like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), lead, and nitrates.