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Window on Washington – August 16, 2021, Vol. 5, Issue 33

August 16, 2021

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. The House and Senate are out of session this week, though the House will return a week from today for a brief session to consider the Senate-passed $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which is necessary to begin the process to pass the reconciliation package. The House may also take up the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4) next week. Once the Senate returns from their August recess, they plan to focus on voting rights reform legislation through the For the People Act (S. 1) for a second time, but the bill needs 60 votes to pass, and it remains unlikely that ten Republicans will support the legislation.

Infrastructure Package. The Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which now awaits House action. However, there are dozens of Democrats who have indicated they will vote against the bipartisan bill unless it comes after the Senate also passes a reconciliation package with the Democratic-only priorities. There are not enough House Republican votes to offset the numbers needed to pass the bipartisan bill, so the House is in somewhat of a holding pattern for the time being. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stated that the target date for Committees to finish their work on the reconciliation bill is September 15, meaning that final votes on the infrastructure package and reconciliation bill may extend into the fall.

FY22 Budget and Appropriations. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said she will not have the House vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure deal until the reconciliation package is also ready for a vote, nine House Democrats are threatening to vote against the budget resolution until the House passes and President Joe Biden signs the bipartisan infrastructure bill. With a slim majority, House Democrats can lose no more than three votes, and no Republicans are expected to vote for the budget resolution. It remains to be seen how this dynamic will ultimately play out, but as of now, House Democratic leadership does not plan to change their course of action given that the infrastructure bill does not have enough votes to pass anyways due to the stance of dozens of progressives, as mentioned above.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations

Pelosi Offers to ‘Advance’ Budget and Infrastructure Measures Together: In a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she “requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.” A vote to adopt a rule, which sets terms for floor debate, wouldn’t clear the $550 billion infrastructure bill for President Joe Biden’s signature, but it would set up floor consideration of the package later this year. (Roll Call)

Senate Democrats Pass $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution: Senate Democrats passed their $3.5 trillion budget resolution last Tuesday, without any Republican votes. Final passage of the $3.5 trillion spending bill, which will require all 50 Democratic senators to sign on, will likely not come until the fall. (Axios)

Senate OKs Infrastructure Bill; Fate in House Tied to Bigger Budget Bill: The infrastructure bill passed 69-30, a margin that demonstrated its popularity in the evenly divided chamber. All 50 Democrats voted for final passage, as did 19 Republicans. The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending and reauthorizes highway and water programs, among other provisions. (Roll Call)

Labor & Workforce

Business Leaders Pressure Congress for Immigration Changes: A bipartisan coalition of business leaders announced a nationwide campaign last Friday to push Democrats to include in their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and deliver on long-promised revisions to the U.S. immigration system. (Roll Call) 


Warren Drops Opposition of Biden’s Higher Education Nominee: President Joe Biden’s pick for the No. 3 spot at the Education Department is moving forward in the Senate after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) dropped her opposition, citing “substantial reforms” to the federal student loan program that she says the administration vowed to make. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last Wednesday morning filed cloture on the nomination of James Kvaal to be undersecretary of Education, the top official overseeing higher education and student aid. The Senate agreed to take up the procedural vote on his nomination when it returns from recess in mid-September. (Politico


Rep. Eshoo Urges Pelosi to Amend Infrastructure Bill’s ‘Problematic’ Crypto Regulation Language: Along with Eshoo (D-CA), the bipartisan leaders of the House Blockchain Caucus raised concerns over the language in a letter sent last week to every House member. (The Hill) 


Nine Centrist House Democrats Threaten to Oppose Budget Without Infrastructure: Nine Democrats, led by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), are threatening to vote against the fiscal 2022 budget resolution until the House passes and President Joe Biden signs the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill. “We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi released publicly last Friday. (Roll Call)


Federal Trade Commission Chair Appears Skeptical of Proposed Lockheed-Aerojet Merger: Lockheed Martin’s proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne is under a cloud of uncertainty after Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan expressed concerns about vertical mergers where a large corporation seeks to acquire a major supplier. Khan’s views on defense industry consolidation were laid out in an Aug. 6 letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who opposes the Lockheed-Aerojet merger and has been a longtime critic of defense industry consolidation. (Space News) 


House Members Release Companion Bill Targeting App Stores: The Open App Markets Act would seek to limit the dominance of Apple’s and Google’s app stores by blocking them from self-preferencing their own products and allowing users to download tools from third-party stores. (The Hill) 


Cyber Commission Applauds Recommendations in $1T Infrastructure Bill Nearing Finish Line: The Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a year after issuing its final recommendations to Congress, is getting results from lawmakers. The commission, in a follow-up report, found more than a third of its original 82 recommendations have been met, or are on the verge of being met. More than 40% of the recommendations led to some action, such as lawmakers introducing a bill, but not yet received a floor vote in the House or Senate. Other programs, meanwhile, remain incomplete or unfunded. (Federal News Network)


Climate Bill Boosting Growers’ Carbon Credits Hits House Hurdles: Legislation that aims to boost climate-friendly farming practices is getting bogged down amid opposition in the House and questions over how the Agriculture Department would carry out its mandates. (Bloomberg Law) 

Environment & Interior 

Democrats’ Climate Tax Proposal Has Polluter-Pays Principle of Superfund: A Senate Democratic proposal to make the biggest polluters in the U.S. pay a tax based on past greenhouse gas emissions is being compared to the polluter-pays principle of the Superfund program that spent billions of dollars cleaning up hazardous waste sites around the country over the past four decades. The proposal from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and fellow Democrats would task the EPA with determining which companies contributed at least 0.05 percent of total carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions from 2000-2019 and tax them accordingly. (Roll Call)


180+ House Democrats Urge Leadership to Prioritize Clean Energy Tax Incentives in Infrastructure Package: As Congress advances legislation to rebuild and renew America’s infrastructure, more than 180 members of the U.S. House of Representatives – led by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Mike Levin (D-CA), and Donald McEachin (D-VA) – are urging House leadership to include important clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation tax incentives in the plan. (Clark Hill Insight)

Senator Markey Announces Legislation to Create Offshore Wind Manufacturing Tax Credits, Cultivate Robust Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain: Last Wednesday, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and cosponsors Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), announced the Offshore Wind American Manufacturing Act, a transformational piece of legislation that will drive domestic manufacturing and offshore wind deployment. The legislation builds off the success from the 48C Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit and would further cultivate a robust offshore wind supply chain in the United States, ensuring that the offshore wind revolution will be made in America. To date, the offshore wind supply chain is concentrated in Europe, China, and South Korea. With the growing number of offshore wind leases offered in the United States, the Offshore Wind American Manufacturing Act boosts domestic manufacturing through an investment tax credit and a production tax credit for qualified offshore wind components and dedicated offshore wind vessels. (Clark Hill Insight)



CDC’s Vaccine Advisers Back COVID-19 Booster for The Vulnerable: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisers agreed unanimously to recommend an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems but acknowledged that the details pose tricky questions. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, last Friday voted 11-0 to recommend a third mRNA dose for a small subset of people who fail to mount an immune response with the standard two doses and are highly vulnerable to COVID-19. (Roll Call)

NIH Director Sees ‘No Signs’ of a Delta Peak: National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins warned on Sunday the continuing rise of Covid-19 cases propelled by the Delta variant could return the nation to the worst days of the pandemic. “This is going very steeply upward with no signs of having peaked out,” Collins said on “Fox News Sunday.” (Politico)

Department of Education

Secretary Cardona Calls for Mandating Covid-19 Vaccines for Educators: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday said he supports mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for teachers and other school staff, as districts across the country prepare to begin another school year shaped by the pandemic. “I would favor the vaccine being required,” Cardona said during a virtual National Press Foundation event, adding that he believes some reluctant adults will change their minds once the FDA fully approves the shots. (Politico)

Banking & Housing/HUD

U.S. Justice Department Says Tweaks to Debit-Card Rule Good for Competition, Consumers: The U.S. Justice Department last Wednesday threw its weight behind a proposed rule change that would require banks and other debit card issuers to provide multiple network options to merchants to route online purchases. The move, made in a comment letter filed to the Federal Reserve by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, underlines the Biden administration’s renewed efforts to bolster the government’s antitrust efforts. (Reuters)

HUD and FHFA Announce Collaboration to Advance Fair Housing and Fair Lending Enforcement: Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) (collectively, the Agencies) entered into a first-of-its-kind collaborative agreement regarding fair housing and fair lending coordination. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the two Agencies will focus on enhancing their enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which HUD is primarily charged with administering and enforcing, and their oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), and the Federal Home Loan Banks (collectively, the regulated entities), all of which FHFA regulates. (Clark Hill Insight)


Treasury Prepares Crypto Carve-Out from Infrastructure Bill’s Tax Reporting Provision:  The guidance would attempt to soothe the crypto’s industry’s biggest fears: that the Senate’s slapdash effort to tax “any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of other persons” could blow the nascent industry to smithereens. (Coindesk)

Tax Reform/IRS

Treasury Sends $15 Billion in August Child Tax Credit Payments: Millions of households received their second monthly payment of the expanded child tax credit last week, with the Treasury Department saying last Friday $15.4 billion was disbursed. (The Hill)


NHTSA Proposes New CAFE Standards for 2024-2026: NHTSA is proposing to amend the CAFE standards set in 2020 for passenger cars and light trucks manufactured in model years 2024-2026, so that standards would increase in stringency at a rate of 8% per year rather than the 1.5% year set previously.  NHTSA will seek comment for 60 days on its tentative conclusion that these standards are maximum feasible for the model years covered.  This proposal also responds to President Biden’s directive in Executive Order 13990 to reconsider the CAFE standards finalized in 2020. (Clark Hill Insight)


U.S. Diplomats Being Moved Out of Embassy in Afghanistan: A U.S. official said Sunday that American diplomats in Afghanistan are being moved from the embassy in Kabul to the airport as the Taliban enter the capital. The official says military helicopters are shuttling between the embassy compound and the airport, where a core presence will remain for as long as possible given security conditions. (Politico)

DHS & Immigration

Mayorkas Defends U.S. Border Strategy as Migrant Apprehensions Reach 21-Year High: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last Thursday strongly defended the Biden administration’s strategy for dealing with migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, where interdictions of migrants and asylum-seekers have reached levels not seen in over two decades. (CBS News)


Rosen Told Senators Trump was ‘Persistent’ in Pressuring DOJ to Discredit Election: Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen reportedly said in his closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that former President Trump was “persistent” in attempting to put pressure on the Justice Department to discredit 2020 election results. (The Hill)


Moffitt Confirmed to Oversee AMS and APHIS: The Senate confirmed Jenny Lester Moffitt as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at USDA, where she will oversee the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). (Clark Hill Insight)

Department of Energy

Biden’s Pro-Car, Pro-Gasoline Moves Leave Green Allies Fuming: President Joe Biden is pushing ambitious plans for tackling climate change by weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels — but he’s also taking short-term actions that would make it cheaper and more convenient for Americans to keep driving their gasoline-powered cars. The White House’s latest moves include imploring OPEC and Russia to increase oil production in the name of lowering fuel prices, as well as championing a trillion-dollar infrastructure deal loaded with money for new and wider highways. The Biden administration has also declined to block a series of oil pipeline projects — despite killing Keystone XL — and has greenlit drilling on leased federal land at a faster rate than former President Donald Trump’s agencies had. (Politico)

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