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Window on Washington – December 5, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 46

December 5, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will first meet on Monday when they are scheduled to consider several bills under suspension of rules including legislation on rural opioid abuse prevention, community disaster resilience zones, data mapping, and cardiovascular research. The House is also expected to vote on the Respect for Marriage Act and a revised FY23 NDAA based on a compromise to add an extra $45B above the amount President Biden requested. House activities will be suspended Wednesday morning for members to attend the funeral of Rep. Donald McEachin, who died last week, in Richmond. The Senate on Monday will hold a confirmation vote on a judicial nominee. The Senate will hold additional nomination votes this week and could act on the FY23 NDAA if passed by the House, but that vote is likely to be pushed into the following week. Hearings for the week include an examination of overcrowding at national parks, research programs in the Farm Bill, the climate crisis, ESG, PACT Act implementation, and politicking at the Supreme Court.

118th Congress. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was elected to lead House Democrats, making him the first black leader of a congressional party caucus. The caucus will meet this week to vote on caucus rules, including whether to impose a term limit on committee leadership like Republicans have. House Republicans held a second rules meeting last week, passing several rules to make the process for considering legislation more inclusive. One proposal to ban earmarks was rejected in a 158-58-1 vote. Incoming House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) hinted that the earmark process would be changing under GOP control but has not specified changes. Senate Democrats considered their rules changes last week, rejecting a proposed change that would bar Senators from concurrently holding leadership positions and leading committees. Senator Chuck Schumer will be selected again this week by his colleagues to be Majority Leader in the next Congress, giving Brooklyn, NY leaders of both Democratic caucuses.

FY23 Appropriations. Heading into the weekend, negotiations on an Omnibus appropriations appear stalled. Negotiations between Democratic and Republican appropriators had heated up last week after the “Big Four” congressional leaders met with President Biden at the White House. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voice support for passing a full-year omnibus before the end of the year, though McCarthy is treading lightly to avoid upsetting conservatives in his caucus. Senate Appropriations Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) met with Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) late last week and reportedly made a $1.65T proposal while reiterating Republicans will not support any increase in discretionary spending beyond the $1.7T proposed by President Biden in his budget. Republicans claim no increase is needed because of the domestic spending included in the Inflation Reduction Act. Senate Democrats are advocating for an additional $26B on the non-defense side that is included in existing appropriations bills prepared by the two Committees on Appropriations. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi called a full-year continuing resolution a “last resort.” On Friday, senior Republican Appropriator Tom Cole (R-OK) said he expected any deal will happen first in the Senate, while adding that this week may be too soon for a framework agreement that would allow each subcommittee to start drafting legislation but next week is more likely. Democratic staffs continue to work on their version of a “Republican friendly” omnibus that would notionally be ready for review a week from today. Without a formal breakthrough this week, the chance of a year long Continuing Resolution certainly grows.

Defense Authorization. Defense committee negotiators reached an agreement last week to add $45B to President Biden’s defense budget for the upcoming year. The topline for the National Defense Authorization Act will be $847B for national defense and total $858B when including other programs. This amount is close to the amount approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee over the summer. House leaders plan to have the NDAA ready to for a vote this week before it goes to the Senate for consideration. The NDAA will likely include the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), reauthorizing waterway improvements and spending on flood control and coastal resilience programs. The text of this bill could be released as early as today. Other measures besides WRDA could well be included on this “must pass” measure.

Biden Administration.  Biden is visiting Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC’s manufacturing plant in Arizona on Tuesday.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations 

Senate GOP Battles Over Spending Strategy: Senate Republicans are battling over their year-end spending strategy — a second chapter of a brawl between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and rebellious conservatives that began after Election Day. (The Hill)

GOP Says Inflation Reduction Act Should Be Factored into Spending Fight: Republicans have a new argument this year in the end of 2023 partisan clashes over government funding: Domestic spending should be reduced because of the sweeping tax and climate legislation Democrats moved through Congress earlier this year in party-line votes. (The Hill)

House GOP Votes Down Earmark Ban Proposal: Earmarks are here to stay — at least for one more Congress. House Republicans voted Wednesday against a proposed earmark ban during a conference rules meeting, a vote that held larger implications as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy seeks to become speaker. (Roll Call) 


Omnibus Could Take Big Step on Addiction Treatment: The latest candidate for lame-duck action is a bill to increase access to treatment for opioid addiction. (Axios) 

Labor & Workforce 

Senate Votes To Avert Freight Rail Strike Amid Economic Concern: Legislation to avert what could have been an economically ruinous freight rail strike won final approval in Congress on Thursday as lawmakers responded quickly to President Joe Biden’s call for federal intervention in a long-running labor dispute. (PBS News) 


Transgender Ban, Biden Loan Program Top House GOP’s Education Agenda: Education issues formed a key part of the Republican Party’s midterm strategy, from pledging to undo President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program to promoting policies that ban transgender athletes from high school and college sports. (Roll Call)

Lame Duck Agenda: Higher education lobbyists are watching the appropriations process closely and would like to see the Senate sign off on an expansion of Pell Grants for short-term programs and the College Transparency Act—both of which passed the House of Representatives in February. The College Transparency Act is aimed at providing students and families with more information about college programs and outcomes by requiring colleges and universities to report certain information. Others are cautiously hopeful that Congress could approve protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Inside Higher Ed) 

Banking & Housing  

As FTX Burned, Lawmakers Said to be Dithering Over Regulator: Congress opted to tread water on legislation that would clarify the agency in charge of the cryptocurrency industry, leaving lawmakers now without a regulator to blame for missing the signs of the FTX collapse this month and facing deep skepticism about some proposals. (Roll Call) 


Maxine Waters Urges Bankman-Fried to Testify: House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) said she has invited FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to testify at the panel’s Dec. 13 hearing on the cryptocurrency exchange’s collapse. Bankman-Fried has not yet responded to the invitation, Waters said. She is open to letting him appear via video and the former FTX CEO has signaled that he would be open to testifying before Congress. (Politico)

Senate Banking Chief Urges U.S. Treasury to Secure New Crypto Rules: A Democratic senator and chair of a key committee last week pressed U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for help in securing legislation to better regulate cryptocurrency, the latest sign of pressure for tougher regulations following the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. (Reuters)


Graves Plans Aggressive Oversight as Transportation Panel Chairman: The presumptive chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee aims to keep a skeptical eye on the Biden administration’s implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law after the 118th Congress convenes in January. (Roll Call)

After Providing $3B, Lawmakers Question Why USPS Isn’t Buying More EVs: Lawmakers are ramping up pressure on the U.S. Postal Service to increase its use of electric vehicles after Congress provided the agency with $3 billion for expressly that purpose. (GovExec)

U.S. Senator Presses FAA For Details on Boeing 737 MAX Alerting System: A senior U.S. lawmaker wants details from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about the safety of the cockpit alerting system for the Boeing 737 MAX — an issue at the heart of a dispute over two new variants of the best-selling airplane. (Reuters)


Key House Republicans Urge Priority for Asteroid Search:  Five Republicans on the House science committee are asking NASA to prioritize funding for the Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope. NEO Surveyor will hunt for asteroids and comets that might threaten Earth, but the Biden Administration proposed a deep cut to the program in FY2023 and a delay of at least two years. Republicans will control the House next year and the letter signals they are paying attention to NEO Surveyor and its goal of fulfilling a 2005 congressional mandate to identify 90 percent of NEOs 140 meters or more in diameter.  (Space Policy Online)


House, Senate Negotiators Agree to Add $45B to Biden’s Defense Budget: An emerging compromise on annual defense policy legislation will endorse a $45 billion increase to President Joe Biden’s defense spending plans, according to four people familiar with the negotiations. (Politico)

GOP Senators Threaten to Delay Major Military Bill Over Covid Vaccine Mandate: Several Republicans are warning they will drag out Senate consideration of a massive military policy bill unless they get a vote on ending a Covid vaccination mandate for service members. (NBC News) 

Homeland Security & Immigration 

House GOP Push to Impeach DHS Chief Could Split Caucus Next Year: A push from some House Republicans to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over U.S.-Mexico border security could divide the caucus as it wrangles with a narrow majority next year. (Roll Call)

Livestock Farmers Push for Immigration Bill: Livestock farmers are pushing for the Senate to deliver a long-awaited immigration bill over the lame-duck session to modernize the agricultural visa system. The Senate is poised to consider at least one immigration-related bill between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there are two House-passed bills that could get a vote. (The Hill)  


Senate Passes Protections for Same-Sex Marriages: The Senate passed a bill Tuesday to codify federal recognition of same-sex marriage that got bipartisan support because of added measures on religious liberty protections. The 61-36 vote sends the bill to the House, where Democratic leaders have said they intend to hold a vote on the measure during the lame-duck session. (Roll Call)

Senators Introduce Legislation to Bolster Title IX Protections: Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) will introduce new anti-harassment legislation Thursday that aims to strengthen Title IX protections for student survivors of sexual assault or harassment. (The Hill)

Manchin and Klobuchar Say Omnibus Likely Place for Electoral Count Overhaul: Legislation to overhaul how Congress counts presidential electoral votes should hop on the must-pass spending omnibus on its way out of the Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said last week. Speaking at a National Council on Election Integrity event, Manchin said the Electoral Count Reform Act was “ready.” (Roll Call)

Senate Plots Pro-Pot Move For Lame-Duck: A bipartisan group of senators plans to attach significant marijuana legislation to “must-pass” year-end bills. The group, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has the Justice Department’s blessing for legislation letting cannabis companies access banking institutions and creating grants for state expungement of past marijuana convictions. (Axios) 

Environment & Interior  

Congressional Democrats Say Not a Chance of Reopening Climate Law: Members of Congress have an answer for French President Emmanuel Macron’s pleas for a relaxation of U.S. green-energy subsidies: “Non merci.” Macron used his visit to Washington last week to ask President Joe Biden to back off the “Made in America” requirements of the new U.S. climate law. European leaders say those provisions discriminate against the EU electric vehicle manufacturers and other clean industries — and raise the danger of a transatlantic trade war. (Politico)

GOP Plans Climate Probes the Left Might Like: House Republicans are planning an onslaught of investigations into Biden climate policies that could have an unintended consequence: asking questions progressives want answered. The probes could set the table for conversations between Republicans and Democrats in the new Congress about the thorny aspects of transitioning away from fossil fuels, including human rights. (Axios)


House Oversight to Issue Report on Big Oil Investigation: The House Oversight and Reform Committee will soon issue a report wrapping up its investigation of the oil industry, according to one of the lawmakers leading the probe. “We’ve wrapped it up, but there are millions of documents that now are going to be part of the public record and this report,” said Environment Subcommittee Chair Ro Khanna (D-CA), who spearheaded the investigation with full committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). (E&E News)

Senators Press DOE’s Granholm to Help New England Avoid Major Power Disruptions, Price Spikes This Winter: Five U.S. senators from New England last Tuesday asked Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to help mitigate the risks of reduced natural gas supplies and higher prices facing the region. The lawmakers from Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont asked federal energy officials to identify barriers to bringing non-fossil fuel energy online as quickly as possible. (UtilityDive)



Biden Administration Prepares to End Monkeypox Emergency Declaration: The Biden administration is eyeing an end to its public health emergency declaration for mpox, a sign that officials believe they’ve brought the months-long outbreak under control. (Politico)

FDA Moves To Ease Blood Donor Restrictions On Gay Men Amid National Shortage: The Food and Drug Administration is weighing a series of moves to make it easier for gay and bisexual men and other individuals to donate blood amid a nationwide blood shortage. The FDA is considering easing blood donor screening restrictions for men who have sex with men that originated during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. (Axios) 

Labor & Workforce

Rail Unions Look to Next Contract Talks as Biden Signs Agreement: Even as President Joe Biden was signing a congressional resolution imposing a strike-averting rail labor agreement Friday, unions opposed to the deal over sick leave provisions were strategizing for the next bargaining session. (Roll Call)

Labor Department Finds Compromise in ESG Investment Rule: The Labor Department’s rule to expand environmental, social and governance options for retirement plans is being called a healthy compromise between financial services firms that want clear rules and plan sponsors that feared strict mandates to consider such factors. (Roll Call)

The Biden Administration Will Allow Agencies to Appoint Some Employees Into 10-Year Temporary Jobs: The Biden administration will allow agencies to hire employees in certain positions on a temporary basis for up to 10 years, more than doubling the current cap limiting the assignments for those workers. (GovExec) 

Department of Education 

U.S. Appeals Court Rejects Biden’s Bid to Revive Student Debt Plan: A federal appeals court on Wednesday declined to put on hold a Texas judge’s ruling that said President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt was unlawful. (Reuters)

Supreme Court Will Review Legality of Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday said it will review the legality of President Joe Biden’s federal student loan debt relief plan, putting borrowers on track to get clarity on the fate of the program by next summer. (ABC News 

Banking & Housing/HUD

Fed’s Powell Cites Top Barrier to Taming Inflation — Workers’ Wages: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday said the biggest remaining barrier to taming inflation is the shortage of workers, which is giving Americans greater clout to seek higher pay. Powell also again signaled that the Fed will begin raising interest rates in smaller increments, but underscored that significantly higher borrowing costs still lie ahead. (Politico)

U.S. Fed Weighing Changes to Bank Capital Rules to Better Account For Unexpected Stress: The U.S. Federal Reserve’s regulatory chief said on Thursday the central bank is exploring adjustments to bank capital requirements, noting the inability of supervisors to predict unexpected shocks would argue for higher overall capital levels. (Reuters)


Yellen Says Cryptocurrencies Need Regulation: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said recent turmoil in the cryptocurrency market has not spilled over to the banking sector, but she remained skeptical about the industry and believed it needed adequate regulation. She added it was important to remain open to financial innovations, especially if they could lower the cost of cross-border transactions and help improve financial inclusion but said that was not what recent developments had been about. (Reuters)

DOJ Asks for Independent Probe into FTX bankruptcy: The Department of Justice has requested that an independent examiner be appointed to review “substantial and serious allegations of fraud, dishonesty” and “incompetence” after the implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire. In a filing in Delaware federal bankruptcy court, Andrew Vara, a U.S. bankruptcy trustee, told the court that the allegations of corporate misconduct and complete failure merited an immediate and speedy examination of the events leading up to FTX’s collapse. (CNBC)


Biden Supply Chain Adviser to Leave White House: President Joe Biden’s top supply chain adviser is leaving the White House, departing from the post as the country’s product distribution snags show signs of easing. Sameera Fazili, deputy director of the National Economic Council and a deputy assistant to the president, exited Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter. She led the White House’s work on trying to fix the supply chain problems that have fueled inflation and also on passing the CHIPS and Science Act. (Politico)


Trade War Averted? Macron Gets Biden To ‘Tweak’ His Industrial Subsidies: French President Emmanuel Macron snatched an unexpected win from his U.S counterpart during a visit to Washington on Thursday, getting Joe Biden to suggest that European companies could benefit from a controversial American subsidies package. (Politico)

Commerce Probe Finds Chinese Solar Manufacturers Dodged US Tariffs: The Commerce Department has reached a preliminary determination that Chinese solar panel manufacturers illegally circumvented U.S. tariffs by shipping them through southeast Asian nations. (The Hill)


Macron to Kamala Harris “Take My Man to the Moon”: As America plots a way for mankind to take its first steps back on the moon since 1972, Emmanuel Macron just wants to make sure the first European to go is French. “I have a candidate for you for flying to the moon,” the French president told U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris as the two met at NASA headquarters Wednesday, according to a video posted on social media. (Politico)

NOAA, Microsoft Will Advance National Climate Efforts Through Advanced Tech Partnership: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Microsoft are working together to advance the agency’s climate goals under a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement by utilizing Microsoft’s cloud computing tools while engaging in climate-related research and development. (NextGov)

Artemis 1 Moon Mission Squeezing Communications with James Webb Space Telescope: Two major NASA missions that have launched in the past year are revealing a communications weakness in space. NASA communicates with all of its distant spacecraft — from the Orion capsule to the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb or JWST) to Voyager 1 — through the Deep Space Network, a collection of 14 antennas located at three sites in California, Spain, and Australia. But the network is busy and ensuring that every mission beyond Earth orbit has the communications time it needs can be tricky, an issue that the Artemis 1 mission has exacerbated. (

Astronomers Say a New, Huge Satellite is as Bright as the Brightest Stars:  For a few years, astronomers have been expressing concerns about megaconstellations, such as SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.  Now a company has successfully deployed the largest-ever commercial communications satellite in low-Earth orbit, the BlueWalker 3 demonstration which is intended to demonstrate the ability of standard mobile phones to directly connect to the Internet via satellite.  However, a potential constellation of almost 200 satellites of this size and reflectively is now greatly alarming astronomers who are pointing at the potential for worldwide interference for both optical and radio astronomy.  (Ars Technica)

Black Scientists on the Rise as NOAA Steps Up Recruiting:  Long assailed for its poor record in minority hiring, NOAA in the past 20 months added 82 Black scientists to its workforce, increasing their number by nearly a third.  They’re among the almost 1,100 new scientists whom NOAA has hired since March of last year.  The improvement over the last year comes after a report by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee found that NOAA had one of the weakest diversity records among federal agencies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.  (E&E Greenwire)


Pentagon Says China on Pace to Almost Quadruple Nuclear Arsenal by 2035: China could have 1,500 nuclear warheads within 13 years, according to a new Pentagon report warning of Beijing’s plans to greatly expand its power in the coming decades and assert even more aggression over self-governing neighbor Taiwan. (The Hill)

Pentagon Unveils New Nuclear Stealth Bomber After Years of Secrecy: America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China. (The Hill)

U.S. Navy Sends A Message To Adversaries With A Rare Submarine Port Visit In Indian Ocean: The US military wants its adversaries, as well as allies, to know that, for the first time, a US Navy nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine docked at the remote island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as part of an extended months-long deployment. (CNN)

Pentagon’s Strategic Capital Office to Spur Investment in Defense Tech:  The Pentagon last Thursday established an office focused on driving private sector capital toward technology development to help the military services field innovative capabilities at a faster pace.  “As today private sector capital is the dominant funding resource for technology development, we can build enduring advantages through engagement with trusted capital that is focused on critical technology areas for the Department of Defense,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a Dec. 1 memo.  (Defense News)

‘Deterrence the American Way’: The New B-21 Bomber Debuts:  The Air Force unveiled the Northrop Grumman-made B-21 Raider to the public Friday in a ceremony at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, that included top defense officials, Northrop Grumman chief executive Kathy Warden, and a tribute to the storied Doolittle Raiders for whom the bomber is named.  It is the first new bomber to join the force in over three decades and is intended to deter the country’s two main adversaries.  (Defense News)

DHS & Immigration

Supreme Court Wrestles Over Biden’s Immigration Enforcement Policy: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether the Biden administration has the right to decide which undocumented immigrants federal agents should prioritize for deportation. (GovExec)

Daily Border Crossings Have Stayed Near Record Highs, And The End Of A Covid Ban This Month Could Mean A New Surge: Despite new restrictions on asylum-seekers, daily migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border have remained near record highs, say three sources familiar with the latest numbers, as the Biden administration braces for a possible extra surge of thousands more per day when Covid restrictions end this month. (NBC News)

DHS Warns of ‘Heightened Threat Environment’ In Pre-Holiday Terrorism Bulletin: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday warned of a “heightened threat environment” across the country in its latest terrorism advisory bulletin, cautioning that the U.S. could see several acts of violence in the coming months. (The Hill)

Immigration Naturalizations in the US Highest in a Decade: An analysis from the Pew Research Center published Friday found that over 900,000 U.S. immigrants became citizens of the U.S. in the 2022 fiscal year. That total represents the third-highest number of immigrants becoming citizens in a single year on record and the most in any fiscal year since 2008, according to the analysis. (The Hill)


TSA Considers Using Third-Party Assessors in Coming Pipeline Cyber Regulations:  The Transportation Security Administration is looking to expand its use of third-party certifiers to include regulating the cybersecurity of critical pipeline and rail operators, according to the agency.   “TSA has maximized the capability of third-party certifiers in other contexts and is interested in options for leveraging this capability for cybersecurity,” reads an advance notice of proposed rulemaking set to publish in the Federal Register Wednesday.  (NextGov)

New SEC Cyber Disclosure Rules May Drive Up D&O Claims:  New rules proposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission on cybersecurity and climate impact disclosures may generate more lawsuits that will generate claims against directors’ and officers’ policies. The proposed rules would require public companies to disclose any “material cybersecurity incident” within four business days, and attorneys for underwriters are concerned that “Any time you have more disclosure you’ll have plaintiffs scrubbing, looking for more claims.”  (Insurance Journal)

Critical Infrastructure:  Actions Needed to Better Secure Internet-Connected Devices:  The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just released a new report which examines the growing cybersecurity threats facing the nation’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors, many of which rely on internet-connected devices and systems to deliver essential services, such as electricity and health care.  GAO found that none of the selected lead agencies had developed metrics to assess the effectiveness of their efforts, nor had they conducted comprehensive IoT and OT cybersecurity risk assessments.  (GAO) 


Feds Want a Manager to Oversee the Troubled Water System in Jackson, Mississippi: The federal government filed a proposal last Tuesday to appoint a manager for the troubled water system in Mississippi’s capital city, which nearly collapsed in late summer and continues to struggle. (NBC News)

Biden Vows Protections for Nevada’s Spirit Mountain: President Biden last Wednesday committed his administration to protecting a Nevada mountain and the surrounding landscape, but stopped short of the national monument designation desired by advocates. (The Hill)

U.S. EPA to Propose Boost in Biofuel Blending Volumes, EV Program: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose increases in the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that oil refiners must blend into their fuel over the next three years. The EPA will also seek for the first time to make the use of biofuels to charge electric vehicles part of the renewable fuel program, giving car makers like Tesla Inc the ability to generate tradable credits. (Reuters)

Department of Energy

White House Weighs Future Release of Emergency Heating, Crude Oil Reserves as Winter Nears: The Biden administration is considering tapping additional reserves of heating and crude oil as winter nears and uncertainty over market prices worsens, according to four people familiar with the matter. (CNBC)

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