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Window On Washington - April 12, 2021, Vol. 5, Issue 15

April 12, 2021

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. The House and Senate are back in session this week. The House is set to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act this week (H.R. 7), which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to promote equal pay for men and women performing the same job, and they will also consider the Senate’s amendment on the bill to extend the current moratorium on the Medicare sequester (H.R. 1868). Outside of the bills scheduled for floor action, Democrats will continue working on the FY22 appropriations process and President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, which the House hopes to pass by July 4th.

Meanwhile, there are a handful of committee hearings this week. On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the COVID-19 response and lessons learned and Senate Commerce will hold a hearing on the Endless Frontier Act. On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on energy innovation and American economic competitiveness, the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on reimagining our innovation future, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Andrea Joan Palm to be deputy HHS secretary and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the CLEAN Act, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing on a science-driven approach to ending the pandemic, and the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on improving access to behavioral and mental health care.

FY22 Budget and Appropriations. The White House released a preview of President Biden’s FY22 budget request, calling for $769 billion for non-defense programs and $753 billion in national defense funding. It remains to be seen when the full budget will be released. With the preview of the budget, however, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are now able to take additional steps to begin the appropriations process.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) will hold a hearing on the FY22 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as a hearing on Defense innovation and research. On Wednesday, the SAC will hold a hearing on FEMA’s response to COVID-19, and the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) will hold hearings on the year ahead for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the NSF’s FY22 budget request. On Thursday, the HAC will hold hearings on NOAA’s role in providing climate services, the Department of Veterans Affairs FY22 budget request, the Department of Health and Human Services’ FY22 budget request, the U.S. Forest Service’s FY22 budget request, and the Department of Transportation’s FY22 budget request.

Infrastructure Package. On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on investments in housing and financial infrastructure, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a member’s day on infrastructure priorities, and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on water pollution and drinking water infrastructure as well as a hearing on the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on public transportation infrastructure investments

Biden Administration. Biden aides will host a meeting today on the resiliency of the U.S. supply chain and will include chipmakers and automakers. Additionally, President Biden will host the prime minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, at the White House on Friday, which will be the first official state visit hosted by Biden during his presidency.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations

More Questions Than Answers in Parliamentarian’s Budget Opinion: Senate Democrats opened the door to multiple bites at the budget reconciliation apple this year and next after parliamentarian guidance earlier last week said revisions to previously adopted budgets could also trigger more filibuster-proof legislative packages. (Roll Call)


Democrats Hope to Extend New Insurance Subsidies Before 2022 Midterms: Health insurance shoppers who buy coverage on the state and federal exchanges are likely to see a discount in their premiums as soon as next month, thanks to the recent COVID-19 relief law, but prices could rise again in 2023 if Congress doesn’t extend new subsidies before then. (Roll Call)

Rep. Alcee Hastings Dies, Narrowing Democratic House Majority to Just 7: Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) died last Tuesday after a more than two-year bout with pancreatic cancer. Hastings served in the House for nearly three decades, and throughout his career, he held several key committee assignments and leadership positions, most recently as vice chairman of the rules committee. He had also been Florida’s first Black federal trial judge, appointed to the bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. (CNBC)

Labor & Workforce

House to Take Up DC Statehood, Equal Pay Bills This Month: One of the first bills the House will take up under the shortened voting period is the Paycheck Fairness Act. The measure aims to provide equal pay for men and women who do the same jobs by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide remedies for employees who face gender discrimination. (Roll Call)


An Essential Ingredient for Getting Infrastructure Done – Pork: It’s been a decade since earmarks in congressional appropriations were mostly ended. A little pork-barrel spending could get Congress’ wheels turning again. (Governing)


Senators Introduce Bill to Revoke Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China: Citing alleged human rights and trade abuses, three Republican senators have introduced a bill that would repeal permanent normal trade relations status for China which it has held since 2001. If the bill passes, it would require the President to take action to review China’s status annually. (Office of Senator Cotton)


Parties Ready for Battle Over Biden’s Defense Spending Plan: President Joe Biden’s departure from the principle of “parity” in his first budget request — or equal increases in defense and nondefense discretionary spending — signals a rocky road ahead for next year’s appropriations bills. (Roll Call)

Homeland Security & Immigration

Democrats Weigh Reconciliation Bill for Immigration Action: The possibility became more serious last Monday when the Senate parliamentarian ruled that a revised budget resolution could potentially be used to pass another reconciliation bill. (Roll Call)


Budget & Appropriations

Biden’s $1.5T 2022 Budget Includes 16 Percent Domestic Spending Boost: That amounts to a 16 percent increase over current funding levels for domestic programs — bringing that total to 3.3 percent of GDP — while providing just a 1.7 percent increase for the military. With less than six months left until government funding runs out, lawmakers will use Biden’s request as a guide in deciding how much to send federal agencies in fiscal 2022, which begins Oct. 1. (Politico)


HHS Spending in Biden’s Budget Request: Biden’s FY 2022 discretionary request includes $131.7 billion for HHS, a $25 billion or 23.5-percent increase from the 2021 enacted level. (White House)

Biden Says All Adults Will Be Vaccine Eligible by April 19: President Biden announced last Tuesday that he is moving up the deadline for states to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to all U.S. residents 18 and older by about two weeks. Less than a month after directing states to expand eligibility to all adults by May 1, Biden changed that deadline to April 19. (NPR)

Labor & Workforce

California Workplace Safety Chief Tapped to Lead OSHA: President Joe Biden will nominate California’s workplace safety chief, Doug Parker, to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the White House said last Friday. (Politico)

Biden Aims to Boost DOL Funding for Enforcement, Virus Response: President Joe Biden proposed spending $14.2 billion on the U.S. Labor Department for the 2022 fiscal year, a 14% increase in the agency’s current annual budget. (Bloomberg Law)

Department of Education

Education Spending in Biden’s Budget Plan: The plan includes increases for federal Pell Grants, minority-serving institutions, and more. (Inside Higher Ed)

Banking & Housing/HUD

Biden Proposes a Massive Expansion of Housing Programs: President Biden is requesting a $9 billion increase in the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would represent the biggest year-to-year boost in the agency’s funding in over two decades. (New York Times)


Biden Budget Request for DOT: The President’s 2022 discretionary request includes $25.6 billion for DOT. This is a $317 million increase over total 2021 enacted funding, but provides a $3.2 billion or 14-percent increase for DOT discretionary programs, excluding General Fund appropriations to traditionally mandatory formula grant programs. (White House)

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Heads for the Senate Shredder: The strict rules of reconciliation, which require that provisions affect federal revenue or outlays, could kill aspects of the plan, which may make holding a voting coalition together more difficult. (Politico)

Biden to Host Bipartisan Talks on Infrastructure This Week: President Biden this week will host congressional lawmakers from both parties at the White House as he seeks to rally support for his proposed infrastructure package. (The Hill)


USTR Considering New Tariffs on Various Goods from Six Countries: The Office of the United States Trade Representative has announced that it is considering 25 percent tariffs on roughly $880 billion of imports from Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom in response to digital services tax imposed by those countries. The potential tariffs would be applied under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and would be aimed at various industries. (Clark Hill Insight)


Biden Requests 6.3% Increase for NASA: The $24.7 billion request, $1.5 billion more than FY2021, includes increases for the Artemis program, space technology research and development, earth science research, and STEM education. (Space Policy Online)

Space Force to Establish New Command for Tech Development and Acquisition: The U.S. Space Force on April 8 unveiled new details of its plan to establish a Space Systems Command in Los Angeles to oversee the development of next-generation technologies, and the procurement of satellites and launch services. (Space News)

NOAA Data Shows CO2, Methane Emissions Surged 2020 Despite Pandemic: Carbon dioxide and methane emissions surged in 2020 even amid coronavirus shutdowns, according to research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released last Wednesday. (The Hill)


Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Director – With Flat Budgets, Turn to AI to Save Money: Artificial intelligence can provide vital savings for the Pentagon in the face of flat or decreasing budgets, the director of the department’s top AI office said last Friday. (C4ISR Net)

DHS & Immigration

Biden Sets Immigration Priorities in Funding Plan: In his first funding request to Congress, President Biden outlined a starkly different set of immigration policy priorities than his predecessor, asking for billions to resettle refugees, house migrant children, speed up U.S. citizenship petitions and process asylum-seekers along the southern border. (CBS News)

Border Czar Roberta Jacobson to Step Down from Post: Jacobson, who was U.S. ambassador to Mexico under former President Obama, agreed to join the administration as a border coordinator for President Biden’s first 100 days in office, a period ending later this month. (The Hill)


President Biden to Sign Executive Order Creating the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States: The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. (Clark Hill Insight)

Biden Lays out Executive Orders to Curb ‘International Embarrassment’ of Gun Violence: President Joe Biden last Thursday announced a slate of executive actions to curb what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence across the country, while again urging the Senate to take up a cluster of House-passed gun reform bills. (Politico)

Biden Budget Request for DOJ: The President’s 2022 discretionary request includes $35.2 billion for DOJ, a $1.8 billion or 5.3-percent increase from the 2021 enacted level. The 2022 discretionary request: invests in Civil Rights and environmental justice, provides targeted funding to address domestic terrorism and gun violence, combats crimes that threaten community safety, increases funding to end violence against women, supports Federal, State, and local criminal justice reforms, and improves the immigration court system. (White House)


Biden Budget Request Calls for Major Investments in Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies: President Biden called for over $1.3 billion in cybersecurity funds as part of his proposed budget request sent to Congress on Friday, along with major investments in emerging technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence. (The Hill)

CISA’s Plan to Spend $650M on Cyber Protections: Officials from DHS’s CISA testified in March before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security about the four areas the agency will focus on with the additional money they received in the American Rescue Plan to bolster detection of cyber threats. (Federal News Network)


Biden Budget Boosts USDA Climate Work, Clean Energy Transition: President Joe Biden released a fiscal 2022 budget outline last Friday that includes a $3.8 billion increase for the Agriculture Department that is heavily directed toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making farms and forests more resilient to climate change. (Agri-Pulse)


Haaland Return Sets up Biden Decision on Utah National Monuments Shrunk by Trump: In an executive order shortly after taking office, President Biden ordered a review of the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, with a report set to be submitted within 60 days. (The Hill)

Biden Budget’s $14 Billion Hike for Climate Includes Big Boosts for EPA, Science: The proposal underscores the administration’s ambitions to decarbonizing the economy by 2050 to stem global warming, reversing a policy direction set by former President Donald Trump to slash red tape that hindered fossil fuel production. (Reuters)

Department of Energy

Biden Weaves Climate Crisis Throughout his Budget Outline: The Biden administration underscored its focus on climate change and clean energy in the first glimpse of its FY22 budget proposal, calling for tens of billions of dollars in new spending from Congress and framing the warming planet as a pervasive threat that seeps into daily life in myriad ways. (Roll Call)

Biden Plan Would Pump Billions into Home Retrofits: President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes measures to build and retrofit affordable, energy-efficient homes, something that efficiency advocates say could alleviate energy and housing insecurity while also creating jobs but must avoid problems previous efforts faced. (E&E News)

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