Window on Washington – June 13, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 23
Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital
Congress. The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will vote on numerous bills this week, including the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, legislation to lower food and fuel costs, and Senate-passed legislation that would provide additional security for Supreme Court justices and their families. The Senate will resume its consideration of the PACT Act, which addresses health care and other matters related to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service. The House Appropriations Committee will begin its FY23 appropriations markups, and the Senate Armed Services Committee will begin its FY23 National Defense Authorization Act markups. Hearings for the week include examining nominations, the future of weather research, the farm bill, FY23 budget requests, solutions to extreme drought, strengthening the workforce, reducing veteran suicide, climate research and agricultural resiliency, supply chain resiliency, and gun violence.
FY23 Budget and Appropriations. The House adopted a $1.6 trillion discretionary spending cap for FY23, which roughly reflects the President’s Budget Request. This deeming resolution solely sets a single topline and does not specify how the funds would be divided up between defense and nondefense spending. While passage of the deeming resolution will allow the House Appropriations Committee to begin its markups, House and Senate Appropriations leaders failed to reach an agreement on the topline and on the parity between defense and non-defense spending. The House Appropriations Committee plans to begin holding its FY23 markups this week, with subcommittee markups occurring June 15-22 and full committee markups occurring June 22-30. The detailed markup schedule can be found here, and floor votes on the bills will likely occur before the August recess.
However, a budget framework for the Senate’s appropriations bills is still in progress, and even with the House beginning its markups this summer, Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) predicted that Congress will likely need to pass a continuing resolution. He noted that there is a possibility that Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal in the lame duck session between the midterm elections and the end of the calendar year. Senate Republicans expressed enthusiasm for an early spending agreement on appropriations with continued talk that Democrats still may seek some mandatory spending through the Budget Reconciliation process.
Gun Control. Key senators announced they reached an agreement on the framework for new gun control legislation. Final bill text is not yet available, but the framework includes provisions such as red flag laws, background checks, and mental health services. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has indicated he hopes to see a bill pass before the July 4 recess.
Jan. 6 Hearings. The House Select Committee on the January 6 attack plans to hold at least six more hearings in June, with the second one slated for this morning and the third scheduled for Wednesday.
Last Week in the Nation’s Capital
Budget & Appropriations
House Sets $1.6 Trillion Cap for Fiscal 2023 Appropriations: The House adopted a $1.6 trillion discretionary spending cap for the upcoming fiscal year, clearing the way for appropriators to start moving the fiscal 2023 spending bills through that chamber as bicameral talks reconvene on a framework for bills that can pass the Senate as well. The deeming resolution setting a single discretionary topline was adopted Wednesday as part of a rule for floor debate on gun control legislation. The vote to adopt the combined rule was 218-205, with all Republicans opposed. (Roll Call)
Banking & Housing
Waters, Green, and Subcommittee Chairs Request Data on Chattel Slavery Financing from Top U.S. Banks and Insurance Companies: Last week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Al Green (D-TX), Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and all Subcommittee Chairs, sent requests to the nation’s top ten U.S. banks, top five U.S. property and casualty insurance companies, and top five U.S. life insurance companies to inquire about their involvement in the financing of chattel slavery in the U.S. (Clark Hill Insight)
Sen. Brown Advocates for Strengthened FSOC Consumer Data Protection: Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is advocating the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) review efforts to bolster consumer data protection. Brown forwarded correspondence to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen requesting that FSOC examine financial institutions’ consumer data activities and potential threats to domestic financial stability and security. (Financial Regulation News)
Senate Panel Advances UM’s Barr to be Nation’s Top Banking Regulator: With bipartisan support, the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday advanced the nomination of the University of Michigan’s Michael Barr to serve as the nation’s top banking regulator. The 17-7 vote included three Republican senators in support: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). Barr’s nomination now goes to the full Senate for consideration. (Detroit News)
There’s a Push in Congress for a New National Retirement Plan to Fill Big Savings Gap: As retirement legislation continues to evolve in Congress, some lawmakers are hoping to address what they view as a persistent problem: lack of access to a workplace plan among low- and middle-income workers. A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers has started work on a bill to tackle just that. While legislation commonly known as Secure 2.0 includes proposals aimed at expanding both access and the ability to save, it won’t necessarily reach people whose company offers no plan, say advocates. (CNBC)
Bipartisan Senators Introduce Crypto Regulatory Overhaul Bill: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced the first major bipartisan legislation aimed at taming the cryptocurrency market. The Responsible Financial Innovation Act would classify digital assets as commodities like wheat or oil and empower the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to rein in the nascent industry. (CNBC)
EV Tax Credits ‘On the Table’ as Democrats Try Reviving Parts of Build Back Better: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently threw another wrench into the Biden administration’s economic agenda by saying it was “ludicrous” to pursue tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), which would make up half of all cars on the road by 2030 if White House economic planners get their way. But Democratic lawmakers looking to revive elements of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan say that EV tax credits are still under consideration as part of broader legislation to make the economy more environmentally friendly. (The Hill)
U.S. House to Clear Path for Ocean Shipping Reform Act to Become Law: The U.S. congressional legislation to reformat the Ocean Shipping Act and give the Federal Maritime Commission added authority focusing on export containers is expected to reach President Biden for his signature by mid-June. Stalled for months due to differences between the versions of the bill passed by the U.S. House and Senate, Bloomberg is reporting that the House leadership has decided to proceed with a vote on the Senate version of the bill as the most expeditious route to adoption. (Maritime Executive)
House Armed Services Panel Aims to Bolster Biomanufacturing: The Innovative Technologies Subcommittee’s mark would require the creation of a new class of biomanufacturing capabilities and facilities under the rubric of the Manufacturing USA Institute, a public-private initiative begun in 2014. The defense-related institute would either be new or would expand an existing one that is focused on biomanufacturing. (Roll Call)
Homeland Security & Immigration
Prospects Dim for Quick Deal on Senate Immigration Proposals: Senate negotiators sounded doubtful they could put forward a bipartisan immigration proposal before Congress leaves Washington for an August break, dimming the prospects to pass long-awaited immigration changes ahead of midterm elections that could flip control of Congress. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), one of the four senators meeting regularly to discuss bipartisan immigration bills, said Wednesday that the group is “not going to have the capacity to have anything put down before we return from the August recess.” (Roll Call)
Bipartisan Group of Senators Announce Agreement on Gun Control: A bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on principle for gun safety legislation Sunday, which includes “needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons,” they said in a statement. Notably, the announcement includes the support of 10 Republican senators, which would give the proposal enough support to overcome the Senate filibuster. The agreement is significant given how divided lawmakers have been over the gun issue, but the actual legislative text is not yet written. (CNN)
House Passes ‘Red Flag’ Bill in Hopes of Stemming Shootings: The House voted 224-202 on Thursday to allow federal courts to temporarily bar some people from possessing or purchasing firearms if they are believed to pose a risk to themselves or others. Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), law enforcement officers, family members or household members could petition a federal court for an “extreme risk protection order” to temporarily prohibit an individual from possessing, purchasing, or receiving firearms or ammunition. (Roll Call)
Bipartisan Antitrust Bill Sponsors Push for Floor Vote This Month: Bipartisan sponsors of a key antitrust bill in the House and Senate on Wednesday urged leadership in both chambers to call floor votes in June on the proposal targeting tech giants. In a joint press conference, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said members of Congress have had months to review the legislation and converse about the proposal. (The Hill)
Environment & Interior
Whitehouse And Colleagues Introduce Clean Competition Act to Boost Domestic Manufacturers and Tackle Climate Change: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week introduced the Clean Competition Act, legislation aimed at making American companies more competitive in the global marketplace and tackling major sources of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions by creating a carbon border adjustment mechanism. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). (Clark Hill Insight)
Bipartisan Bill Targets Entities Doing Business with Russian Energy Industry: Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) on Thursday introduced House and Senate versions of a bill that would bar federal agencies from contracting with entities that do business with Russia’s energy sector. The Keeping Russia’s Energy and Military Liable for Invading its Neighbors (KREMLIN) Act would keep the prohibition in effect until Russia withdraws from Ukraine, ends military hostilities, and is no longer a threat to NATO members, as certified by the United States president. (The Hill)
Budget & Appropriations
White House Budget Request Amendments: The White House submitted a handful of proposed changes to its budget request for Congress to consider. The amendments are for the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, the Interior, Justice, Labor, and Transportation, as well as the Commission of Fine Arts. The proposal results in an $85 million increase to the President’s discretionary spending request. (White House)
CDC Widens Net of Monkeypox Symptoms For Clinicians To Watch For As Cases Continue To Rise: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that it is asking clinicians to be on the lookout for a widening range of symptoms that might indicate a monkeypox infection as U.S. cases continue to rise and evidence of community spread mounts. “We are definitely working to expand information to clinicians, so that they know if additional symptoms should trigger thoughts of monkeypox,” said Jennifer McQuiston, incident manager and deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, during a press briefing on Friday. (Politico)
U.S. Orders 500,000 Monkeypox Vaccines to Be Delivered This Year: The United States has ordered 500,000 more monkeypox vaccine doses for delivery this year, the manufacturer said Friday. The order is larger than earlier ones to the U.S. — including 36,000 doses to be delivered this week — and represents a significant escalation in the fight against a growing monkeypox outbreak. (Politico)
Department of Education
Unions Lobby Biden For Bolder Approach to Student Debt Relief: The nation’s largest unions are mobilizing a last-ditch effort to convince President Joe Biden to go big on student loan forgiveness as the White House weighs a final decision on canceling debt. A growing number of unions in recent weeks have ramped up their public calls for Biden to act on student debt relief, including unions that have not previously weighed in on the issue. And behind the scenes, labor leaders have been lobbying senior White House officials to press the case for sweeping loan forgiveness. (Politico)
Banking & Housing/HUD
FHFA Releases Equitable Housing Finance Plans for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) last week released Equitable Housing Finance Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for 2022-2024. The plans are designed to promote sustainable homeownership and rental housing opportunities for traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities nationwide. (National Association of Home Builders)
OCC Wants to Start Collecting Cannabis, Crypto Business Data from Banks: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is proposing adding cannabis and digital currency activities to the list of business data it collects from banks in an attempt to better identify areas of risk in the financial system, according to a notice the agency posted in the Federal Register on Wednesday. (Banking Dive)
US Justice Department Urges More Coordination to Combat Crypto Crime: In a new report, the Justice Department said the US should share more information about crimes tied to cryptocurrency and help build up its overseas partnerships to help combat them. This is one of the first reports in a response to President Joe Biden’s executive order mobilizing the federal government to come up with responsible oversight of digital assets. (CoinDesk)
Biden Calls for Ocean Shipping Overhaul as Part of Inflation Response: Faced with another eye-popping inflation report, President Joe Biden on Friday placed extra emphasis on the House passing a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing ocean shipping costs for goods entering U.S. ports. During remarks on inflation from the Port of Los Angeles, Biden praised the work of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and fellow California Democratic Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) on addressing the issue. Garamendi was among the lawmakers attending Biden’s remarks Friday. He also once again laid blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Roll Call)
Biden Announces Standards to Make Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Accessible: The Biden administration this week proposed new standards for its program to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, the latest move in its effort to accelerate the country’s clean energy transition. Biden officials said the proposal on minimum standards will help establish the groundwork for states to build charging station projects that are accessible to all drivers regardless of the location, EV brand, or charging company. (CNBC)
White House Set to Nominate Next FAA Administrator, Former City Transit Exec Phil Washington: The White House is set within days to announce Phil Washington, CEO of Denver International Airport, as its nominee to be the next FAA administrator, according to two people familiar with the deliberations. Because the nominee will face U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, the nomination is politically sensitive and closely held. It will not be final until the Biden administration makes a formal announcement, expected as early as this week. (The Seattle Times)
Biden Allows Solar Panel Imports While Also Moving to Boost Domestic Production: The Biden administration is ending its hands-off approach to a Commerce Department tariff investigation that has effectively frozen the solar power industry in the United States. Last Monday the administration announced a compromise: the investigation will continue, but solar panels will be allowed to be imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for two years without fear of steep retroactive tariffs — granting the solar industry a measure of certainty as they await the Commerce Department’s decision. (NPR)
Biden Unveils New Latin America Economic Plan at Reboot Summit Dogged by Dissent: President Joe Biden announced last Wednesday a proposed new U.S. economic partnership with Latin America aimed at countering China’s growing clout as he kicked off a regional summit marred by discord and snubs over the guest list. (Reuters)
Space/NASA & NOAA
NOAA Researchers Seek to Learn More About Tornado Experiences to Improve Safety: The new Tornado Tales citizen science tool is an online survey that provides a way for people to anonymously report their tornado experiences. Developed by researchers at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), the tool will be used to better understand how people receive, interpret and respond to tornado information from NOAA. (NOAA)
NASA IG Slams Bechtel on Mobile Launcher 2 Cost Overruns: NASA’s Office of Inspector General issued a harsh assessment of Bechtel’s performance on the contract to build a second Mobile Launcher for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, but also took NASA to task for their role in the contract and award, the cost of which has more than doubled in addition to the fact that it will be delivered at least 2.5 years late. (Space Policy Online)
China Aims for Space-Based Solar Power Test in LEO in 2028, GEO in 2030: China is planning solar power generation and transmission tests at different orbital altitudes over the next decade as part of a phased development of a space-based solar power station. The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the country’s main, state-owned spacecraft maker, plans to conduct a “Space high voltage transfer and wireless power transmission experiment” in low Earth orbit in 2028. (Space News)
Biden Narrows In on His Next Top Science Adviser: President Joe Biden is closing in on a new top scientist for his administration. Arati Prabhakar, the head of the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from 2012 to 2017, is a frontrunner to lead the White House science office, according to three White House officials. Biden spoke with Prabhakar recently about leading the Office of Science and Technology Policy. And a White House official confirmed that Prabhakar is currently “a leading contender for the President to nominate as OSTP Director and serve as his Science Advisor.” (Politico)
More Reality Checks Could Help Keep DOD Programs on Time and Budget, GAO Says: The Pentagon has long espoused “knowledge-based acquisition,” but doesn’t insist on it. Is the lack of reality checks making Defense Department weapons programs cost too much and take too long? A new report released last week from the Government Accountability Office suggests so. (Defense One)
DHS & Immigration
White House Lays Out New Migration Commitments: The White House on Friday announced a slate of new initiatives to address irregular migration, as President Joe Biden meets with leaders of other Western Hemisphere nations at the Summit of the Americas. The new actions are part of a new regional declaration on migration the U.S. and other countries will present at the summit on Friday. Historically high migration at the U.S.-Mexico border has strained government resources in recent years, and the Biden administration has vowed to address its root causes. (Roll Call)
Biden Administration Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Operation to Disrupt Human Smuggling as Caravan Moves North: The Biden administration has launched an “unprecedented” operation to disrupt human smuggling networks amid an ongoing influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The operation – which includes deploying hundreds of personnel throughout Latin America and a multi-million-dollar investment – comes as the US continues to grapple with a large flow of migrants to the US-Mexico border, including this week as a caravan of up to 5,000 migrants journeys north from southern Mexico. (CNN)
FTC’s New Stance is Litigate, Don’t Negotiate: FTC Chair Lina Khan has a warning for Big Tech companies and other would-be dealmakers: she’ll sue to stop anticompetitive mergers rather than negotiate settlements with companies. This approach will likely change the strategy for companies pursuing mergers and acquisitions. They’ll have to work out for themselves in advance whether they need to sell or spin off parts of their business to win regulators’ approval. (Axios)
Experts, NSA Cyber Director Say Ransomware Could Threaten Campaigns in 2022: With the 2022 election season around the corner, campaigns of all sizes need to be prepared for a widened set of potential cybersecurity risks, experts and a top intelligence official said, which include denial of service attacks, botnets, and ransomware. (Cyberscoop)
Trackers Say Sanctions Against Crypto Exchanges Are Working in Ransomware Fight: Historic sanctions against Russia-based cryptocurrency exchanges have had a desired effect, but robust enforcement of laws to counter money laundering internationally is needed to really thwart ransomware perpetrators, according to witnesses testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week. (Next Gov)
Why Defense Contractors Still Have a Cyber Target on Their Backs: The Defense Department is still figuring out how to raise the cybersecurity waterline among its vendor community as part of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. And some new research based on privately collected cyber risk intelligence shows the problem is as urgent as ever. According to a new report from Black Kite, almost three quarters of defense contractors have had network credentials leaked in just the past 90 days. (Federal News Network)
Ag Trade Negotiator Nominated: Doug McKalip is the Administration’s long-awaited nominee for new chief agricultural negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR). Doug McKalip, who has more than 29 years of service at USDA, currently is a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. McKalip works in policy and regulatory issues at USDA with a focus already on issues such as international security, biotechnology, research and renewable energy, according to his biography. McKalip also served as senior policy adviser for rural affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Obama administration. (DTN)
EPA & DOI
Top Biden Aide Prods Big Tech to Crack Down on Climate Change Misinformation: Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s top domestic climate adviser, said tech companies should do more to prevent the spread of inaccurate information about climate change and clean energy. “The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation,” she said. (Axios)
Department of Energy
Biden Administration Seeks Additional Funding for Energy Transition in Latin America: The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it is working to deliver more money to fight climate change in Latin American countries, but did not set specific goals for many of the new initiatives. Administration officials told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. would work with regional development banks to try to mobilize climate financing for countries in the region. (The Hill)
DOE Should Address Lessons Learned from Previous Disasters to Enhance Resilience: The Department of Energy (DOE) needs to develop a comprehensive approach to electric grid resiliency that coordinates disaster response and grid recovery, as well as utilizes lessons learned from prior natural disasters, according to a June 9 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). (MeriTalk)
WEBINAR: The Race to 2024: Politics and Social Media in the Workplace and Employer Rights.
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WEBINAR: Cybersecurity Resilience in Law Firms
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