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Window on Washington – July 25, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 29

July 25, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. The House and Senate are both in session this week, and they are gearing up for a busy calendar crunch ahead of their August recess, which begins on July 29 and August 5 respectively and goes through Labor Day. The Senate will hold a second procedural vote on its “CHIPS+” bill today, setting up a final vote there on Wednesday. The House will then take up the measure before it departs for its August recess on Friday. The Senate is then expected to turn either a vote on NATO membership for Sweden and Finland or a key veterans measure, the  House-passed Pact Act, which would allow millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military careers to receive VA health care and benefits. Depending upon whether they can reach the 60-vote threshold, something potentially within reach, the Senate could also vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, codifying protection for same sex marriage. In addition, Senators will use this week to tee up a health care related Budget Reconciliation package by working with the Senate Parliamentarian to make sure that such a bill complies with Senate procedures under the Congressional Budget Act. The bill would extend Obamacare subsidies for two years and allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for certain categories of medicine. The Water Resources Development Act of 2022 is expected to head to the Senate floor soon too, but Senate leaders have not yet decided the exact timing. While the House will adjourn for the summer at the end of the week, it could return for a vote on the Senate budget reconciliation package. Before the House breaks for recess though, the Chamber hopes to pass a series of police funding bills, an assault weapons ban, and numerous science, energy, financial services, and wildfire-related bills.

Hearings for this week include examining nominations, cannabis decriminalization, carbon capture projects, the use of fentanyl, USDA hemp production, and cybersecurity for space systems. The House Rules Committee will also markup a bill (H.R. 4040) that makes permanent several pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities under Medicare.

CHIPS+. The Senate is expected to vote this week on its compromise version of a semiconductor and R&D legislative package. The slimmed down legislation combines provisions from the House’s America COMPETES Act with the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). The package will provide funding for the semiconductor industry as well as address other federal research and development initiatives such as at NSF, NIST, and the DOE, though the latter provisions are authorization measures only, leaving funding for their programmatic aspirations to the work of Congressional appropriators.

FY23 Budget and Appropriations. Senate Democrats are expected to publicly release their appropriations bills this week but skip the markup process. Meanwhile, the House last week passed an FY23 “minibus” package that contained six spending bills (Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD); Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (Ag); Energy and Water Development (EW); Financial Services and General Government (FSGG); Interior and Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA)). The House still has six appropriations bills left that leaders hope to bring to the floor at some point, including the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education measures, which combined account for approximately 70 percent of all federal discretionary spending. However, solid Republican opposition to these bills, coupled with internal disputes within the House Democratic caucus over certain hot button issues like Title 42 authority related to border security, make it unlikely that they are considered this month.

Biden Administration. President Joe Biden, who is in isolation until tomorrow due to his positive COVID diagnosis, plans to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping by the end of July amid tensions between the two powers over Taiwan and trade. Their planned discussion comes amidst the White House’s dispute with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over her potential travel to Taiwan next month and their concerns over such a trip raising tensions in the region.

Mid-term elections A recent bipartisan poll in the 56 most competitive US House districts conducted for AARP and released last week showed major momentum for Republicans and showed Biden upside down against former President Trump in favorability. (Axios) Senate Republicans hope for a Senate majority, damaged by nominating candidates in several states with more challenging backgrounds in a general election contest, may have to win a blue state like Colorado, something that some political handicappers suggest is within reach because of the overall national environment. (Axios)  This week, the Trump backed America First Policy Institute holds an America First Summit, in which the former President plans to speak and make his first return to Washington since departing the White House last year.  The Summit’s agenda can be found here. Summit sponsors hope to articulate a vision for the future for the former President’s worldview. (Politico)

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations

House Approves More Than $400 Billion of Government Funding in ‘Minibus’ Package: The House passed a sprawling spending package for the coming fiscal year, approving more than $400 billion in government spending ahead of the August recess. The House still has six remaining annual spending bills that leaders hope to bring to the floor later this month, but the timing on when remains unclear. (The Hill)

U.S. Innovation Bill Clears Major Senate Hurdle with Research Provisions Intact: A massive bill to bolster U.S. innovation took a big step toward becoming law after a bipartisan coalition of senators defeated an attempt to strip away most of its research components. The latest version of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) also includes new language requiring the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to allocate their research dollars more evenly across the country. (Science)


Klobuchar Asks FTC To Investigate Amazon’s $3.9 Billion Move to Acquire One Medical: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a fierce critic of Amazon’s market power, is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the e-commerce giant’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of primary health care provider One Medical. The Minnesota Democrat, chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, asked the FTC in a letter Thursday to investigate the deal over concerns she said it raises about anti-competitive behavior in the pharmaceutical industry and sensitive data it would allow the company to accumulate. (The Hill)

Banking & Housing

Sen. Cramer, Banking Republicans Raise Concerns with FHFA Race-Based Subsidies: U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Senate Banking Republicans sent a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Sandra Thompson raising significant concerns with the Equitable Housing Finance Plans which contemplate race-based housing subsidies. (Clark Hill Insight)

Lawmakers Want to Expand Affordable Housing. Communities say, ‘Not in My Back Yard’: Lawmakers are scrambling to pass affordable housing legislation after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) threw a wrench into yet another social spending package. Manchin also rejected the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act last year, which would have allotted more than $150 billion for housing geared toward the middle class and lower-income Americans. To get those housing units built, lawmakers from both parties want to boost tax credits that incentivize builders to construct cheaper homes for low-income people in order to offset the often drastically higher profit margins that builders can make putting up homes for the wealthy. (The Hill)


Sen. Warren Leads Lawmakers Calling for DOE, EPA to Track ‘Disturbing’ Bitcoin, Ethereum Energy Use: The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency should require crypto mining companies to report their energy use and associated carbon emissions, a group of six lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a letter to the agencies. (UtilityDive)


4514 Introduced to Counter Economic Coercion of Allies: Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Young (R-IN) introduced the Countering Economic Coercion Act of 2022intended to provide the President the authority to alleviate economic pressures from foreign adversaries, e.g., China and Russia.  The Bill defines coercion as “actions, measures, or threats undertaken by a foreign adversary to restrain, obstruct, or manipulate trade, foreign aid, investment, or commerce in an arbitrary, capricious, or non-transparent manner with the intention to cause economic harm or influence sovereign political actions.”   If passed, the Bill would give the President the authority to modify duties and tariff-rate quotas, expedite export licensing decisions, and request foreign aid appropriations for such countries, among other things. (Office of Sen. Coons)


Senate NDAA Has $13 Billion Extra for Defense Inflation: The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended $45 billion more for national defense in fiscal 2023 than President Joe Biden sought, and the panel disclosed that $13 billion of the increase would go toward offsetting the effect of surging inflation on Pentagon buying power. The bill would authorize $846.86 billion for defense programs — mainly at the Pentagon and the Energy Department, which manages U.S. nuclear bomb and warhead programs. (Roll Call)

Fight Brews Over Pentagon’s Push to Counter Extremists: Democrats in both chambers are vowing to resist GOP attempts to halt Defense Department training aimed at countering extremist groups’ attempts to influence servicemembers. The Senate Armed Services Committee report accompanying its fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act calls on the Pentagon to “immediately” halt the counter-extremism programs. The committee approved the bill in June, but the legislative text and the report weren’t made public until Monday evening. (Roll Call)

Homeland Security & Immigration

Republicans Plot Immigration Moves if They Control House: When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led a group of House Republicans to the U.S.-Mexico border this year, he had a warning for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about what Republicans would do if they were in charge. “At any time, if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching,” McCarthy told a crowd of reporters gathered near the border in April. (Roll Call)


Cardin says He Hopes Electoral Count Act is Passed Before November Midterms: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said that he hopes the newly proposed Electoral Count Act is passed through Congress and enacted before November’s midterm elections. (The Hill)

Congress’ Push to Regulate Big Tech is Fizzling Out: Hopes for a congressional vote this summer on a major tech antitrust bill have all but fizzled out as the August recess quickly approaches. It’s more likely than ever that this Congress will push efforts to pass Big Tech competition rules into the fall, where they will face slim chances with lawmakers distracted by midterm elections. (Axios)

House Democrats Advance Assault Weapons Ban After Mass Shootings: Democrats pushed further last week on efforts to combat gun violence, as a House committee advanced a ban on assault weapons and President Joe Biden planned more executive actions to fight crime. (Roll Call)

Schumer’s Legal Weed Bill is Finally Here: Senate leaders are introducing sweeping legislation Thursday meant to lift federal prohibitions on marijuana more than 50 years after Congress made the drug illegal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would decriminalize weed on the federal level and allow states to set their own marijuana laws without fear of punishment from Washington. (Politico)

House Panel Advances Landmark Federal Data Privacy Bill: A House panel advanced a comprehensive data privacy bill in a 53-2 bipartisan vote last Wednesday, pushing forward legislation that aims to set a national standard for how tech companies collect and use Americans’ data. The House Energy and Commerce Committee vote on the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) is a significant step forward after years of delay in lawmakers taking action on a federal data privacy law, but there are still hang ups that could complicate the proposal moving forward. (The Hill)


Senators Introduce Bill to Improve Defenses Against Quantum Computing Data Breaches: Senators on Thursday introduced a cybersecurity bill aimed at improving the federal government’s defenses against data breaches enabled by quantum computing. The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would require federal agencies to have the most up-to-date cybersecurity protections as quantum computers become highly advanced and widely available. (The Hill)


House Passes FY23 Ag Bill: The House 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill provides funding of $27.2 billion– a critical increase of $2.075 billion, 8 percent– above 2022. In total, the bill includes $195 billion for both discretionary programs funded on an annual basis and mandatory programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. (House Appropriations)

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Introduced: The House Committee on Education and Labor released the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill that would expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), increase the meal reimbursement and more. (Food Service Director)

Environment & Interior

Senate Panel Deadlocks on Biden Interior Nominee for Second Time: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday deadlocked 10-10 on a long-delayed vote for a key Interior Department official, setting the stage for a Senate-wide vote on the nomination. (The Hill)



Biden Administration Considering A Public Health Emergency for Monkeypox As Cases Swell: U.S. health officials are discussing whether to declare a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak as they work to make treatments and vaccines available to more people. The discussions come as the virus — which is endemic in West and Central Africa but unusual in the United States — continues to spread across the country. As of Thursday, there were 2,593 cases reported, up from 1,470 last week. The federal government announced Friday it has shipped over 300,000 doses of the vaccine to states and cities to control the outbreak. (Politico)

Biden Administration Plans to Elevate Pandemic Response Office: The Biden administration is elevating the Health and Human Services Department’s pandemic and disaster response division after months of discussion about fixing gaps and shortcomings exposed during the coronavirus pandemic, three people familiar with the internal deliberations said. The decision, shared in an internal HHS memo, would make the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response its own operating division, putting the assistant secretary, Dawn O’Connell, on par with directors of other sweeping departments, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. (Politico)

HHS Could Consider Declaring Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency: WH Official: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering whether to declare monkeypox a public health emergency if current management tactics don’t get the virus under control, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said Sunday.  “In the U.S. right now, we’re looking at public health emergency as something that HHS might deliver but I mean, might invoke but, you know, it really depends on what does that allow us to do,” Jha told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan. (The Hill)

Banking & Housing/HUD

A New Federal Office was Just Established to Regulate Information Technology Platforms in Real Estate Markets (i.e., Proptech): The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the federal agency that supervises and regulates many home loan providers, announced Tuesday the creation of the Office of Financial Technology. The new office is tasked with collecting information on emerging risks in financial technology innovation, relevant to home ownership. (Protocol)

Sandra Thompson Tight-Lipped on Credit Score Changes, Ending GSE Conservatorships: Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson is keeping her views on whether Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should exit conservatorship and a decision on credit scoring models close to the vest. “Ending conservatorships is not a quick action to undertake,” Thompson said in testimony last Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee. “There are capital targets that have to be met, other policy issues that have to be decided by other stakeholders — the U.S. Treasury, some with the Federal Reserve, and others.” (Housing Wire)


USPS to More than Double Order of Electric Trucks: The U.S. Postal Service will order more than twice the number of electric vehicles initially projected for its new fleet, the agency announced. The move follows months of controversy after the Postal Service initially sought to make about 10 percent of its fleet electric. Now it plans to make at least 40 percent of its fleet electric. (The Hill)

Buttigieg Spars with GOP Lawmakers Over Biden’s EV Goals: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week defended the Biden administration’s goal of having 50 percent of vehicles on the market be electric by 2030 as House Republican lawmakers cast doubt on what they argued could further increase energy costs. Buttigieg, testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lauded the goal as possibly bringing cost-saving technology to rural communities and fighting the climate crisis. (The Hill)

Biden to Nominate Former State Official to Run U.S. Highway Agency: U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate a former state transportation official to head the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as the agency oversees a massive jump in spending, the White House said on Thursday. Biden will nominate Shailen Bhatt, who is a senior vice president at engineering firm AECOM and was previously an official at both the Colorado and Delaware state transportation departments. (Reuters)


Commerce Secretary says Biden Weighing ‘Potential Labor Implications’ Before Deciding Whether to Lift China Tariffs: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that one of the things holding up President Biden from making a decision whether to lift Trump-era tariffs on China that some economists say could help ease inflation are the impacts such a move would have on labor unions. (The Hill)


NASA Safety Advisers Warn ISS Transition Plans On “Precarious Trajectory”: NASA’s safety advisers warn that the agency’s efforts to transition from the International Space Station to commercial space stations without a gap are on a “precarious trajectory.” At a July 21 meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, members said they were concerned that commercial stations whose development is being supported by NASA were unlikely to be ready in time before the ISS is retired at the end of the decade, and that those efforts suffered from insufficient budgets. Those plans, called Commercial Leo Earth Orbit (LEO) Destinations by NASA, “are on a precarious trajectory to realization on a schedule and within the projected resources needed to maintain a NASA LEO presence,” said Patricia Sanders, chair of the panel. “This is an area of concern for us.” (Space News)

NASA Aiming for Late August Test Flight of Giant Moon Rocket: On the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, NASA announced last Wednesday it’s shooting for a late August launch of its giant, new moon rocket. NASA will attempt the more than month-long lunar test flight with three mannequins, but no astronauts, as early as Aug. 29. There are also two launch dates in early September, before NASA would have to stand down for two weeks. (Politico)

Draper Wins NASA Contract for Far side Lunar Lander Mission: NASA awarded a contract to Draper to send three science instruments to the far side of the moon through a commercial payload delivery program. NASA announced July 21 it selected a team led by Draper for the 2025 mission to land in Schrödinger Basin, an impact basin about 320 kilometers across on the lunar farside near the south pole. The task order, awarded through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, is worth $73 million. The lander, called SERIES-2 by Draper, will deliver to Schrödinger Basin three experiments to collect seismic data, measure the heat flow and electrical conductivity of the lunar subsurface and measure electromagnetic phenomena created by the interaction of the solar wind and plasma with the lunar surface. (Space News)


Army Recruiting Challenges Mean Force Could Shrink by Tens of Thousands More Soldiers: In the span of just a couple of years, the Army faces the prospect of seeing its active duty force shrink by as much as 8.5%. It’s not for lack of funding, budgets have been robust. It’s mainly because it’s gotten a heck of a lot harder in recent months to entice the tens of thousands of new recruits the Army personnel system demands each year, and officials don’t see the problem getting better anytime soon. The service started its planning for fiscal year 2023 knowing it was going to have a big recruiting challenge on its hands. But the task turned out to be even more daunting than officials first believed, and the service’s active duty end strength will likely decline by tens of thousands of additional soldiers next year. (Federal News Network)

DHS & Immigration

Government Eyes Plan to Give I.D.s to Unauthorized Immigrants: The Biden administration plans to test providing temporary I.D. cards to unauthorized immigrants awaiting a final decision on their cases, according to two government sources familiar with the planning. Recent border crossers and other unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. often do not have I.D.s , making it more difficult to access housing, healthcare, transportation and other benefits. (Axios)


DOJ to Investigate Illegal Dumping Complaints against City of Houston: The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday announced an environmental justice investigation into reports of illegal dumping by the city of Houston in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. (The Hill)

Biden to Request $37B in Annual Budget to Support Police and Prevent Crime: President Biden will request $37 billion in the annual budget to go towards supporting law enforcement and for crime prevention, the White House announced on Thursday. The request will be part of Fiscal 2023 budget process and Biden was set to announce it last week before he tested positive for COVID and canceled the event. (The Hill)


Affordable Connectivity Program sees 1M signups: Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking in North Carolina on Thursday, said that 1 million U.S. households have signed up in the last two months for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a $65 billion portion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law intended to help consumers cut their household costs for high-speed Internet services. (Fierce Telecom)

Official says White House to Meet with Rail Industry Before Issuing Cybersecurity Rules: The White House plans to consult with leaders of the rail industry next month on a new cybersecurity directive, according to Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Tech Anne Neuberger.  Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Neuberger said security directives the administration issued for the pipeline sector last year—in response to a ransomware attack that led to a run on fuel supplies along the East Coast—were “a major change which we then rolled on to additional sectors.” (NextGov)


USDA Announces Increased Funding for School Meals, Child and Adult Care Meals: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an increase in funding to help schools continue to serve kids healthy meals this coming school year and provide financial relief for schools and child care providers. Effective July 1, 2022, the reimbursement schools receive for each meal served will increase by approximately $0.68 per free/reduced-price lunch and $0.32 per free/reduced price breakfast. Other reimbursement rates, including rates for paid school meals and child care meals, are available online. (USDA)

Department of Energy

Biden to Pursue Wind Energy in the Gulf of Mexico: The Biden administration will pursue the development of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House said last week. The new proposed offshore wind areas in the Gulf would represent the first time that wind energy is produced in the Gulf, which is typically a hub for oil and gas production. (The Hill)

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