Skip to content

Window on Washington – December 19, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 48

December 19, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress.  Congress has made progress toward funding the government for the remainder of FY23. Last week, House and Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans announced a topline funding agreement at roughly $1.7 trillion. To give appropriators time to finish drafting the funding agreement, Congress passed a one-week Continuing Resolution, pushing the deadline to fund the government to this Friday. The Senate will return today to vote on an executive nomination or in relation to the Omnibus spending bill, if text is released by then. It is unclear how long it will take the chamber to clear the bill given potential procedural hurdles; timing also depends on when text is released. The House will return on Wednesday to consider the Omnibus spending bill. If the Omnibus is passed, Congress will next meet on Jan. 3 to adjourn the 117th Congress and convene the 118th Congress.

118th Congress. The 118th Congress will convene on Jan. 3, two weeks and one day from today. Before then, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to solidify support for his Speaker bid from his caucus. No less than five conservatives have said they are strongly against McCarthy, putting his bid in peril. They are demanding a restoration of a procedural motion called “the motion to vacate” which can be used to call a vote on removing the Speaker of the House. Democrats in 2019 changed the rule to require that a majority of the caucus must support such a move before such a vote.  Current House GOP conservative holdouts want to restore the previous rule that permitted such a vote if requested by a single member. It is expected that McCarthy will reach a deal requiring a higher threshold such as 30 people to secure their support for his bid. Last week, President Trump told the conservative holdouts that McCarthy deserves a shot to prove his leadership. Separately, House Democrats last week rejected a proposed rule change from Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) that would have introduced 6-year term limits for committee leadership posts. The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last week voted on the party’s committee leadership assignments, selecting Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) over Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton to be Ranking Member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) over Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) to be Ranking Member of the Oversight Committee. Larsen and Raskin are both more junior than their colleagues whom they ran against for their respective posts, which make their selections notable.

FY23 Appropriations. On Thursday, Congress passed a short-term CR extending government funding to Dec. 23. After reaching a topline agreement of $1.7 trillion, House and Senate negotiators agreed on subcommittee allocations on Thursday and spent the weekend drafting their respective bills. Text of yearlong Omnibus is expected to be released later today.  Action on the measure is expected to begin in the upper Chamber with House action to follow before Christmas Eve.  A remaining big unknown is what additional measures will be attached to the Omnibus including tax extenders and provisions to avoid automatic cuts in Medicare spending for providers.  Electoral College Reform is likely to be one of these provisions.

January 6 Final Report and DOJ Post-2020 Investigations. The House January 6 Committee is set to meet today to vote on its final report and whether to include criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. The Committee is expected to refer at least three criminal charges it alleges to have been committed by President Trump. Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said the panel could issue five to six other categories of referrals, such as ethics referrals to the House or Senate Ethics Committees, bar discipline referrals, and campaign finance referrals. House Republicans this week will also release a separate January 6 report that is expected to focus on law enforcement failures. In addition to the January 6 investigation, the House Ways and Means Committee announced they will meet on Tuesday to determine whether or not to release Trump’s tax returns. Republican members are almost certain to oppose such a move.  Trump and his campaign team are also the subject of a Department of Justice investigation into a fake elector scheme. Trump, of course, is the only declared GOP candidate for president so far, though some GOP leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers believe his multiple liabilities may be taking a toll, weakening his stance with GOP primary voters.

Midterm Election and 2024 Watch.  President Biden’s political allies held a series of meetings last week to prepare for a reelection campaign. President Biden is expected to decide whether or not he will ultimately pursue a second term after discussing with his family over the Christmas holiday. First Lady Jill Biden is reportedly enthusiastic about a reelection bid after Democrats beat expectations in November’s midterm elections. While Biden and Democrats remain buoyed by how well they fared in the mid-term elections compared to historical norms for a party in power, polling data since voting concluded show serious economic headwinds that threaten the President’s re-election and that Democrats’ success in 2022 hinged more on the failure of Republicans to connect with independents and swing voters in both parties. The GOP has already begun wooing candidates seen as more electable in key Senate races like outgoing Governor Dug Ducey (R-AZ). A recent CNBC poll found that 57 percent of all Democrats hoped that President Biden would not run for reelection.

Biden Administration.  Biden hosted the Africa Leaders Summit last week where he announced he would be the first U.S. president to visit sub-Saharan Africa in ten years. Biden also pledged $55 billion in economic aid to African countries over the next three years, support for a permanent G-20 seat for the African Union, and plans to appoint a special representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation. In a major announcement last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday to end sentencing disparities in cases involving the distribution of crack and powder cocaine.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations 

Deal Reached on Framework for Omnibus Spending Bill: Democrats and Republicans have reached a topline spending agreement for a fiscal 2023 omnibus, three of the four top appropriators on Capitol Hill said late Tuesday. (Roll Call)

One-week Stopgap Bill Clears as Appropriators Work to Close Out Omnibus: The Senate on Thursday cleared a one-week continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 23, as Appropriations Committee leaders distributed final spending allocations to their dozen subcommittees to ready a sprawling omnibus package they plan to unveil this afternoon. (Roll Call)

Democrats Block GOP Proposal to Freeze Federal Funding Until 2023: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last Tuesday blocked a request to pass a continuing resolution to essentially freeze federal spending until 2023, when Republicans will control the House. (The Hill) 


Lawmakers Explore ‘More Permanent Direction’ for Telehealth Under Medicare: After the COVID-19 pandemic changed telehealth, expanding access to digital health care under temporary emergency policies, two House members said last week that congressional efforts are trying to expand Medicare’s virtual flexibilities beyond temporary pandemic efforts. (NextGov)

Sanders the HELP Chair Gets Realistic: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ran twice for president, then pushed an all-Democratic government as far left as it could possibly go, and now the Vermont independent is set to take over the Senate’s prestigious Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee next year. The panel is the perfect platform for Sanders’ top issues, like Medicare for All. It also has a proud bipartisan reputation. (Politico)

Democrats Unveil Legislation Outlining Plan for Right To Fertility Treatments: A trio of Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday that would protect access to assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), as organizations that support abortion access raise concerns that Republicans may go after such treatments going forward. Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) introduced a bill named the “Right to Build Families Act of 2022,” which would bar states from limiting a person’s access to fertility treatments, or a health care provider’s ability to provide such services. (The Hill)

Labor & Workforce

Top Republicans Try to Tank New ESG Rule: Republicans are starting their all-out assault on ESG by targeting a Biden administration rule for retirement plan fiduciaries. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) are attempting to dismantle a recent Department of Labor rule allowing retirement plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their investment actions. (Axios) 


We Can’t Have 2 Countries: 2022’s Elections Foreshadow New Divides in Education: Republicans spent big this year to elect scores of candidates who vowed to remake the American public education system — an effort that’s inspiring conservatives to do more in 2023. (Politico)  

Banking & Housing  

U.S. Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restrict Huawei’s Access to Banks: U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to sanction Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies Ltd and Chinese 5G companies, restricting them from accessing U.S. banks. The bill, introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and backed by lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seeks to “severely sanction” Huawei, and other “untrustworthy” Chinese 5G producers who they say engage in economic espionage against the U.S. (Reuters)

Schumer Makes Last-ditch Push for Cannabis Banking Bill: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is making a final push for inclusion of the cannabis banking bill in the omnibus funding package. Democrats shared the revised text with Republicans on Thursday in a bid to get cannabis legislation over the finish line. The new bill text addresses concerns raised by key Republicans, including Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). (Politico)

Sen. Rubio, Rep. Khanna Introduce Bill to Increase Coordination Among Federal Finance Programs: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced legislation this week that seeks to rebuild critical industries by increasing coordination between federal finance programs. (Financial Reg News)

CFPB to face reckoning in next Congress, Republicans warn Chopra: Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra can expect stricter oversight of the bureau under next Congress’s GOP-led House, as Republicans continue their campaign to rein in an agency they claim lacks transparency and accountability. (BankingDive) 


Bipartisan Bill Aims to Prevent Money Laundering via Cryptocurrency Companies: Capitol Hill continued its pursuit to impose regulations on the digital asset market following the fall of prominent cryptocurrency trading platform FTX and the misuse of consumer assets, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introducing new legislation to task federal agencies to oversee the asset class. (NextGov)

House Financial Services Presses FTX CEO on Crypto’s Regulatory Needs: As the House Financial Services Committee tried to get to the bottom of what went wrong in the lead-up to the collapse of FTX, some lawmakers pressed CEO John Ray III about what legislation governing cryptocurrency exchanges should include. Record-keeping requirements, corporate controls, and keeping customer funds separate are essential safeguards for financial entities, Ray said at the hearing. His testimony came hours after former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and charged in the U.S. with eight counts of criminal conspiracy and fraud. Bankman-Fried had been scheduled to testify to the committee until his arrest. (Roll Call)

Senate Hearing Illustrates Massive Divide over Crypto in D.C.: The Senate Banking Committee held a muted hearing last week, calling four expert witnesses representing opposite sides of the crypto skeptic spectrum. The Senate Banking Committee invited four witnesses, an odd pairing of two academics and two TV stars, O.C. veteran Ben McKenzie and Shark Tank host Kevin O’Leary. Unlike the hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee, where FTX’s caretaker CEO, John Ray III, testified, the Senate Banking Committee was less interested in diagnosing the collapse of the exchange and more focused on the crypto ecosystem going forward. (Fortune)

Senate Banking Chairman says ‘Maybe’ to Cryptocurrency Ban: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Sunday said federal agencies need to address the cryptocurrency market and “maybe” ban it after the high-profile collapse of cryptocurrency market FTX last month. (The Hill)

Tax Reform 

Chances for Long-Awaited Retirement Legislation are Fading Fast: While most observers expect the government funding fight to get resolved one way or another in the coming weeks, the brinkmanship appears to be jeopardizing another effort: the long-delayed retirement reform legislation informally known as SECURE 2.0. (Yahoo Finance)

Earned Income Credit Backers Aim to Keep Expansion on the Radar: Organizations including anti-poverty advocates, civil rights groups, seniors group AARP and business representatives are calling on lawmakers to boost earned income tax credits for workers without children at home, arguing it’s a critical program for low-wage workers and would boost the economy amid lagging workforce participation. (Roll Call)

IRS Funding, Child Tax Credit Will be Top Issues in 2023: Divided government is likely to make for a slower year on tax policy in 2023 as a GOP House that wants to go after the IRS runs into a Democratic administration and Senate that has very different ideas on taxes. After two years of tax policy being at the center of major legislative vehicles, the focus in the next year may turn to how the IRS uses $80 billion in new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. (The Hill)


Bipartisan Lawmakers Unveiling Bill Targeting Supply Chain Shortfalls: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are set to introduce legislation on Tuesday to require federal agencies to address supply-chain issues as the country fights the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. (The Hill)

U.S. Lawmakers Want Buttigieg to Speed Deployment of Connected Vehicles: The Democratic chairman and the top Republican on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee urged the Biden administration to take an active role in helping automakers deploy “connected vehicle” technology to avoid crashes. (Reuters) 


House Lawmakers Introduce Legislation on Space Situational Awareness: As space is becoming increasingly congested, lawmakers introduced a bill last week designed to add civilian agency components to space situational awareness to help create safe space operations amid growing concerns of orbital debris. (NextGov)


Senate Sends Fiscal 2023 NDAA to Biden’s Desk: The Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass the final defense authorization bill for fiscal 2023, clearing the sweeping measure for President Joe Biden’s signature. If Biden signs the NDAA into law, as he is expected to do, it would be the 62nd straight fiscal year that the defense policy measure has been enacted. (Roll Call)

Defense Budget Skyrockets as Progressives Lawmakers Clamor for Change: Progressive lawmakers are raising the alarm over a behemoth $858 billion defense authorization bill sent to President Biden’s desk by the Senate on Thursday. The price tag for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — which lays out how the Defense Department will allocate its budget in fiscal 2023 in addition to funding various national security programs outside its jurisdiction — comes in $85 billion higher than what the Biden administration first requested earlier this year prior to congressional negotiating. (The Hill) 

Sen. Warren Presses Defense Secretary About Ex-Google CEO Schmidt’s Potential Conflicts When He Advised Pentagon on A.I.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about his agency’s enforcement of conflict-of-interest rules for federal advisory boards, zeroing in on former Google CEO Eric Schmidt after CNBC reported on his past involvement on influential panels in an industry where he was an investor. (CNBC)

Key Senator Seeks to Slow Pentagon Transition to Electric Vehicles: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) used her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to add language to the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would set an additional barrier for the Pentagon – the world’s largest institutional fossil fuel consumer – to purchase non-tactical electric, advanced-biofuel or hydrogen-powered vehicles. A new report would require assessments of cost, infrastructure, supply chain shortfalls, and fire-related security risks. (Defense News)

Cyber, Speed, and UFOs: A Tour of Tech Provisions in the 2023 NDAA: The 2023 defense policy bill appears to reflect lawmakers’ desire to accelerate and integrate various tech projects – and to prod the intelligence community to emulate other agencies’ tech-innovation centers.  There are numerous provisions relating to cyber innovation, software development, satellite procurement, and a new strategy to boost the number of competitions for companies to “transition critical technologies into major weapon systems and other programs of record” and improve the “integrity and diversity of the defense industrial base.” (Defense One) 

Homeland Security & Immigration 

Last-minute Push to Pass Bipartisan Immigration Deal Fails, Dooming Yet Another Reform Effort: Negotiations in the Senate to forge a bipartisan compromise on U.S. immigration and border policy failed to gain enough traction to pass before the end of this session of Congress, dooming yet another effort to reform a system that has not been updated in decades. (CBS News)

House Republicans Ramp Up Calls to Impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas: House Republicans calling to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas turned up the pressure on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday, with around 20 GOP members and three former Department of Homeland Security officials gathering for a press conference. (The Hill)

Democratic Senator says It is ‘Past Time’ for Title 42 to be Lifted: Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) on Sunday said it is “past time” for the controversial border policy Title 42 to be lifted, saying the U.S. is in a “much different place” in the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Hill) 


Schumer Says He Expects Omnibus to Include Electoral Count Overhaul: Legislation to close loopholes in the formal electoral vote counting process will likely be appended to a must-pass appropriations package, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday. Supporters of President Donald Trump sought to exploit those loopholes last year to keep him in power. (Roll Call)

Congress Passes Bill to Fund Police De-escalation Training: In one of its final acts of the year, the House passed bipartisan legislation late Wednesday that would empower law enforcement agencies across the country to adopt de-escalation training when encountering individuals with mental health issues as part of an effort to reduce the number of officer-involved fatalities. (Associated Press)

Congress Set to Tackle Crack, Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity Before Year’s End: Lawmakers are making a last-ditch push to pass legislation that seeks to reduce — but not entirely erase — sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine offenses before the year is finished. Senate Democrats are expressing optimism about chances to pass legislation aimed at significantly reducing the gap in federal sentencing disparities for the offenses as part of a larger omnibus funding package leaders are hopeful will pass this week. (The Hill) 


Quantum Cyber Bill Clears Senate, Heads to President’s Desk: The Senate earlier this month unanimously approved legislation passed earlier this year by the House that helps to set the Federal government on the path to defend against quantum computing-enabled data breaches that will become more of a threat as quantum tech advances in the coming years. (MeriTalk)

Lawmakers Will Face Familiar Technology Issues Next Congress: The 118th Congress will face some long-standing policy challenges as well as a few new ones but may not get to the finish line on any of them — even the federal data privacy bill that has bipartisan backing in both chambers. (Roll Call)

Pelosi Backs Adding Government Device Ban of TikTok to Funding Bill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) supports adding legislation to ban TikTok on government devices to a federal funding bill. Support from the Speaker brings the effort, which gained unanimous support in a separate vote in the Senate, closer to being adopted in the omnibus bill this week. (The Hill)

Peters Eyes Progress on Unfinished Cyber Bills in Next Congress: The flurry of cybersecurity legislation enacted by the current Congress left one unfinished piece of business that Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) says will be first in line in the next Congress: updating the federal government’s cybersecurity efforts. (Roll Call)

For Congress to Confront Cybersecurity, Reps Push to Ramp Up Cyber Literacy: A bipartisan pair of House lawmakers, the incoming Chairwoman, and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are pushing to enhance the literacy of the Committee members when it comes to cybersecurity, expressing urgency on the matter before the U.S. experiences a “doomsday”-like attack. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said that such attacks are impacting a variety of different industries, increasing the need for dialogue with experts on the matter and that the issue would be a top focus of the Committee in the next Congress. (The Hill) 


Sen. Bennet Unveils Bill to Revise Agricultural Visa System: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) unveiled long-awaited legislation Thursday to revise the agricultural visa system and offer migrant farmworkers a path to permanent residency — a last-ditch effort to enact changes after bipartisan talks fell apart. (Roll Call)

Environment & Interior

Senate Rejects Manchin’s Energy Permitting Amendment to Defense Bill: The Senate has bucked Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) latest effort to get his energy deal with Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) attached to must-pass legislation. (The Hill) 

House Dems Hold Out Hope for Environmental Justice Vote: Despite some very steep odds, colleagues of the late Rep. Don McEachin (D-CA) are not yet giving up on securing a vote in the waning days of the 117th Congress on historic environmental justice legislation intended to honor the memory of the Virginia Democrat who helped write it. “This is our time to do it,” said Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) yesterday, confirming there is “still interest and a possibility” of holding the vote on the bill by the year’s end. (E&E News)

Alex Padilla and Other Western Democrats are Preparing to Battle the Biden Administration for New Drought Funding: Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) has his eye on water — and a potential clash with fellow Democrats and Biden officials over climate resources amid the mega-drought hitting the West. (Politico)

House Climate Crisis Panel Outlines Milestones Ahead of Likely Dissolution: The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which is expected to be dissolved by a Republican House majority next year, said in a report Wednesday that nearly half of its policy recommendations have become law. (The Hill)

GOP Plans “Collusion” Probe into Climate Groups: House Republicans want to launch investigations into a baseless claim that China and Russia unduly influence U.S. climate activism. Republicans are using this claim to seek donation information from climate groups and could potentially use subpoenas. (Axios)


Budget & Appropriations

U.S. Government Budget Deficit Increased in November: The U.S. government recorded a monthly budget deficit of $249 billion in November, a 30% increase from a year earlier amid increased spending and falling revenue, the Treasury Department reported. Federal budget outlays increased by $28 billion, or 6% in November, with agencies such as the Education Department reporting increased spending, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement. Receipts for November fell by 10%, or $29 billion, with decreases seen in areas such as government revenue from payroll taxes. (CNN) 


Biden Administration Approves Washington State Request to Offer Health Insurance to Undocumented Immigrants: The Biden administration approved an application by Washington state to expand health insurance access for all residents regardless of immigration status by allowing it to forgo requirements set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (The Hill)

CDC Urges Masking Return as Tripledemic Surges: Concerns are growing nationwide for rapidly increasing cases of what health officials have deemed a tripledemic: the flu, RSV, and COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is once again urging the public to wear face masks indoors. (The Hill)

White House Covid Doctor: Safe to Gather, But …: Americans should still gather to celebrate the holidays, despite a rise in respiratory illness and low rates of uptake for the latest Covid-19 vaccine, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re at a point where it’s safe to gather, but you still have things to do,” Jha said — insisting, as officials in the Biden administration have before, that the proper tools exist to manage the virus. (Politico)

CDC Says Long Covid has Contributed to Thousands of U.S. Deaths: More than 3,500 Americans have died due, at least in part, to long Covid, according to new data from the CDC. The agency’s findings underscore the potential severity of a condition that continues to impact millions but is still poorly understood and — in some cases — dismissed entirely. (Politico) 

Labor & Workforce

FLRA Restores Pre-Trump Doctrine on When It Can Intervene in Ongoing Arbitration: The Federal Labor Relations Authority rolled back a controversial Trump-era change to how the agency may intercede in ongoing arbitration cases between labor unions and federal agencies, albeit without the support of its lone Republican member. (GovExec)

Student-Athletes Should be Classified Employees, NLRB Says: The National Collegiate Athletic Association is breaking federal law by not classifying student-athletes as employees, according to the National Labor Relations Board. NLRB officials in Los Angeles determined that the NCAA, along with the Pac-12 Conference and the University of Southern California, are joint employers of athletes — an assessment that could ultimately allow student-athletes to unionize. (Politico) 

Department of Education 

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Second Biden Appeal in Student Debt Plan Fight: The U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to hear President Joe Biden’s appeal of a judge’s ruling that found his plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt unlawful, taking up the matter alongside another challenge to the policy that the justices are due to hear in the coming months. (Reuters)

White House Announces $1.2B Effort to Improve Access to STEMM Education: The Biden-Harris administration announced new commitments to further education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicinal research on Monday, with a focus on eliminating the systemic barriers barring disenfranchised populations from participation in quantitative research fields. (NextGov)

The Student Loan Company Being Used to Attack Biden’s Debt Relief Plan: The fate of President Joe Biden’s multibillion-dollar student debt relief plan could hinge on an obscure financial services company just outside of St. Louis. The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, a state-created loan company known as MOHELA, is at the center of a legal challenge from six Republican states trying to stop Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt for more than 40 million Americans. (Politico) 

Education Department Mulls Whether Period Products Should Be Included in Title IX Provisions: The Education Department is considering whether to include access to period products in Title IX protections, which ban discrimination based on sex in schools, USA Today reported Friday. The Education Department previously told USA Today a month ago that it was not the department’s decision on whether a federally funded school decides to provide products for periods, but the head of the department’s civil rights arm reportedly said now that it will evaluate the feedback it has received to its proposed rule from last June. (The Hill) 

An Error Email Leaves 9 Million Student Loan Borrowers in Limbo: Millions of student loan borrowers were left confused Tuesday morning after receiving an email reversing course on what they thought was an approval of their student debt relief applications. The email, from Federal Student Aid, referred to the one-time relief plan that the Biden administration rolled out in August and – in recent months – put on hold following legal challenges. (NPR)

Banking & Housing/HUD

CFPB Proposes Online Registry of Nonbank Financial Lawbreakers: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed that certain nonbank financial firms be required to register with it when they become subject to certain consumer financial protection agency or court orders. The CFPB also proposed that it publish this information in an online registry. (

U.S. SEC Votes to Advance Stock Market Overhaul Proposals: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday voted to propose some of the biggest changes to the American equity market structure in nearly two decades, aimed at boosting transparency and fairness while increasing competition for individual investors’ stock orders. (Reuters)


Financial Stability Oversight Council Says the Crypto Sector Needs Congress to Intervene: The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) – a panel of U.S. financial agency chiefs that includes U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the heads of several other regulatory agencies – met to discuss risks to the financial system and approve the council’s annual report. While echoing the same widely held concerns about an inability to reach into spot markets for tokens that aren’t securities, the report shared another common position: Only Congress can give the agencies the powers they need to establish a full set of rules that covers the whole crypto industry. (CoinDesk)

Tax Reform/IRS

Chinese Firms Avert Delisting as U.S. Audit Watchdog Gets Full Inspection Access: The U.S. accounting watchdog on Thursday said it has full access to inspect and investigate firms in China for the first time ever, removing the risk that around 200 Chinese companies could be kicked off U.S. stock exchanges. (Reuters) 


Washington Regulator Aims for More Control of Microsoft and Meta: Lina Khan’s Federal Trade Commission has two headline-making cases underway right now – its trial against Meta in a California courtroom, and a new suit to block a Microsoft megadeal. But Khan’s long game appears to be even bigger. She wants to win unprecedented powers to review and potentially block any future deals by two of tech’s most acquisitive companies. (Politico)


‘Game Changer’ Satellite Will Measure Most of the Water on the Planet: The first mission to survey nearly all of the water on Earth’s surface has launched. The international Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, known as SWOT, lifted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 6:46 a.m. ET on Friday. The first stage of the rocket successfully landed back on Earth at 6:54 a.m. ET. (CNN)

Space Debris Expert: Orbits Will be Lost – and People Will Die – Later This Decade: The number of objects launched into space has increased dramatically just in recent years – there were just over 300 in 2017 but by 2020 the number of objects launched exceeded 1,000 for the first time – this year, the total has already surpassed 2,000. This radically increasing number of satellites, most of which are orbiting within 1,000 km of the Earth’s surface, comes as low-Earth orbit is ever more cluttered with debris and is raising growing concerns about whether or not governments can coordinate efforts to avoid tragedies. (Ars Technica) 

White House Revamps Membership of National Space Council Advisory Group: The White House announced the new membership of an advisory group of the National Space Council, the Users’ Advisory Committee (UAG), on Dec. 16, with wholesale changes in the roster reflecting a new emphasis on climate change and workforce issues. The board will be chaired by Lester Lyles, a retired U.S. Air Force general who also serves as chair of the NASA Advisory Council. (Space News)


U.S. Military Creates Space Unit in S. Korea to Watch North: The U.S. military formally launched a space force unit in South Korea last Wednesday, its first such facility on foreign territory that will likely enable Washington to better monitor its rivals North Korea, China, and Russia. (The Hill)

Biden Launches ‘China House’ to Counter Beijing’s Growing Clout: The Biden administration on Friday will launch “China House,” the centerpiece of its effort to strengthen its diplomatic heft in its global rivalry with Beijing. The State Department-based unit is designed to eliminate silos among sometimes redundant government bodies, giving U.S. officials from within State and beyond a central clearinghouse to share information and shape policy on China, State officials said in an exclusive preview. (Politico)

DIA to Release AI Strategy as Pentagon Grapples with Tech Talent Challenges: The Defense Intelligence Agency will soon issue an artificial intelligence strategy, with talent development being one of the top challenges facing DIA and organizations across the Defense Department. (Federal News Network)

DHS & Immigration

Judge Pauses Biden’s Plans to End “Remain in Mexico” Policy: A federal judge in Texas on Thursday put the Biden administration’s attempt to end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program on hold. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk is pausing the White House’s attempt to end the program while litigation continues. (Axios)

Biden Restarts Task Force on Immigrants’ Success in U.S.: The Biden administration is reinstating a task force that is aimed at helping immigrants and refugees integrate into the United States. The Task Force on New Americans will be run by the Domestic Policy Council and the focus will be workforce training, education, and financial access as well as language learning and the health of immigrants who have green cards and other types of legal status, according to the White House. (Associated Press)

Biden Admin May Cut Number of Migrants Eligible for Asylum at Border but Open New Paths for Others: The Biden administration is solidifying plans to slash the number of migrants who would qualify for asylum at the southern border while opening up new, narrow pathways for some would-be migrants to apply while still in their home countries. (NBC News)

Legal Immigration to the U.S. Rebounds from Pandemic Drop in Visa Approvals: The U.S. issued nearly half a million permanent visas to immigrants abroad in fiscal year 2022 as legal immigration rebounded following a sharp drop in visa approvals at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impeded global travel and crippled processing at U.S. consulates, unpublished government data show. (CBS News)


Biden Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill at White House Ceremony: President Joe Biden signed legislation Tuesday to codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages in a ceremony at the White House. “Today is a good day, a day America takes a vital step toward equality, toward liberty and justice, not just for some, but for everyone,” Biden said. (NBC News)

Top FTC Official Warns Companies on Data: A top Federal Trade Commission official told Axios the agency won’t hesitate to sue companies that play fast and loose with customers’ data. Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s bureau of consumer protection, also warned companies that operate under FTC consent decrees — which includes Twitter — that “there’s no pause button” on such agreements. (Axios)

Garland Orders End to Cocaine Sentencing Disparities: Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo to all federal prosecutors on Friday instructing them to end sentencing disparities in cases involving the distribution of crack and powder cocaine. (Axios)


NSA Cyber Director Warns of Russian Digital Assaults on Global Energy Sector: National Security Agency Cyber Director Rob Joyce said Thursday he remains concerned about significant cyberattacks from Russia, warning that Moscow could unleash digital assaults on the global energy sector in the coming months, based on Russian attacks they are seeing targeting the energy sector in Ukraine and surrounding countries that are supporting them, such as Poland. (Cyberscoop) 


EPA Revokes Trump-era Air Permitting Policy: EPA Administrator Michael Regan has scrapped a Trump-era permitting policy whose development ensnared a top appointee in allegations of ethical overstepping. (E&E News)

Department of Energy

What to Know About DOE’s Fusion ‘Breakthrough’: It has taken decades for scientists to create a nuclear fusion reaction that produces more energy than the reaction requires. But now, Department of Energy researchers have achieved just that, Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced last Tuesday. (Politico)

Feds Order Review of Power-grid Security after Attacks: Federal regulators on Thursday ordered a review of security standards at the nation’s far-flung electricity transmission network, following shootings at two electric substations in North Carolina that damaged equipment and caused more than 45,000 customers to lose power. (Associated Press)

Biden Administration Set to Start Refilling Oil Reserve: The Biden administration is planning to begin refilling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a senior administration official said Friday, marking the end to the massive supply releases that the White House ordered to tame the sharp price spikes earlier this year. President Joe Biden had ordered the Energy Department to begin releases from the reserve last year, and he sharply ramped up those sales after Russia invaded Ukraine in February — sending crude oil prices soaring and driving up gasoline to record levels. Total releases from the reserve this year totaled more than 211 million barrels, putting the inventories at their lowest levels since 1984. (Politico)

Subscribe For The Latest