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Window on Washington – October 31, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 41

October 31, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital 

Congress. The House and Senate are both out of session for the last week before the election.

Debt Limit. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. won’t reach its debt ceiling until the beginning of the third quarter of 2023 at the earliest. Some members of Congress have voiced support for raising the debt ceiling during the lame duck Congress before a potential Republican takeover. 

November Elections.  The midterm elections are next Tuesday and more than 21 million votes have been cast as of Sunday morning, per the United States Elections Project. Over the past few weeks, Republicans’ odds of retaking control of the Senate have increased, with polls tightening in multiple battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia. Control of the House continues to trend in the direction of the Republicans as well.

Biden Administration.  President Biden, along with his granddaughter, voted early in Delaware over the weekend. The White House announced over the weekend President Biden will be attending the COP27 climate conference in Egypt in two weeks. In the run up to Election Day, the President will campaign for candidates in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Mexico and California.

Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court hears arguments today in two cases challenging the use of race in college admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.  Given the change in the Court’s composition since 2016, it is expected that the Court is likely to overturn the standard for admissions established in the 1978 Bakke case.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations 

House GOP’s 2023 Forecast – Fiscal Warfare: As the GOP prepares to take back the House, its right flank is raring to gut spending, upend the federal safety net and make Trump-era tax cuts permanent — ambitions that threaten to give leadership a two-year headache. (Politico)


Senate GOP Report on COVID Origin Suggests Lab Leak is ‘Most Likely’: A report from the staff of the top Republican on the Senate Health Committee strongly suggests the virus that causes COVID-19 was introduced to the world by a lab leak in China, though it offers little new evidence. (The Hill) 

Banking & Housing  

Sen. Warren says Big Banks Fail to Prevent ‘Rampant’ Fraud on Payment Platform Zelle, Urges CFPB to Tighten Regulations: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to strengthen rules governing Zelle, as she raises concerns about what she called growing fraud on the payment platform. In a letter to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, the Massachusetts Democrat also said big banks may have violated federal law by failing to fully refund the “vast majority” of defrauded customers. (CNBC) 


Lawmakers Trip Over Privacy and Security of Digital Dollar: Lawmakers from both parties say the Federal Reserve needs legislative authority to issue a digital dollar, but the two sides have so far been unable to find a balance between privacy and security that could overcome the partisan divide. (Roll Call)

Warren, Ocasio-Cortez Ask Regulators to Clarify Stance on Crypto Hires: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have asked regulators to clarify their rules on former employees taking roles in the crypto industry. In a letter sent to almost all federal financial regulators, the lawmakers noted “the increasing number of revolving door hires” and asked how long individuals involved in regulating the crypto industry are barred from seeking employment in it. (CoinDesk)

Tax Reform

House GOP Wants Answers on IRS Leak: House Ways and Means Republicans are renewing pressure on the Biden administration over a leak of taxpayer information to ProPublica last year, urging the Treasury Department to provide more public information on an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure. (Roll Call)


GOP Anger at New Pentagon Abortion Policy Could Roil Defense Bill Debate: Senate leaders were hoping to quickly clear major defense legislation and lock in a significant boost to President Joe Biden’s Pentagon budget in the seven-week sprint between the midterms and the new year. Then the Pentagon rolled out its new policy on abortion. (Politico)


NDAA Amendment Would Establish Veteran-Focused Cyber Training Program: A proposed amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act would establish a pilot program to provide veterans and military spouses with cybersecurity training, as part of an effort to address gaps in the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. (NextGov) 

Environment & Interior  

Khanna Bill Would Ban Gas Exports During Price Spikes: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a vocal critic of large oil companies’ business practices, is set to introduce legislation Friday that would ban the export of refined gasoline products during domestic spikes in gas prices. The legislation would restrict exports during any seven-day period where the national average gas price is $3.12 a gallon or higher. (The Hill)


Senate Panel Eyes Nov. Hearing for FERC Chair Re-nomination: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is eyeing Nov. 15 for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Richard Glick’s confirmation hearing. (E&E News)


Budget & Appropriations 

Biden Officials Discussing Lame-Duck Debt Ceiling Deal: The Biden administration is in early, quiet discussions with key Senate offices about raising the debt ceiling in the lame-duck session of Congress. The preliminary conversations reveal two political near-certainties gripping Washington: Republicans are likely to win control of the House, and a potential Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would use the debt ceiling to extract painful spending cuts from the White House — even if it threatens to crash the economy. (Axios) 


Administration Eyes National Hepatitis C Treatment Plan: The Biden administration is preparing a comprehensive initiative to fight hepatitis C that would streamline testing and treatment and secure an agreement with drug makers to bring down the cost of treatment of the disease, which has spiked during the pandemic. (Roll Call) 

Department of Education

Colleges Brace Themselves for SCOTUS Loss on Race-Conscious Admissions: American colleges have had the Supreme Court’s blessing for more than four decades to factor race into their admissions processes — and now they’re preparing for a future without it. Students for Fair Admissions, led by longtime affirmative action opponent Edward Blum, is challenging race-conscious admissions practices before the high court on Monday in two cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Politico)

Biden Makes Bold Prediction on Student Loan Forgiveness: President Biden believes that despite ongoing legal challenges, borrowers will begin to receive student loan forgiveness under his signature one-time cancellation initiative within two weeks. While the Biden administration has been unable to implement any student loan forgiveness while the 8th Circuit’s temporary stay remains in effect, the Education Department is still able to accept applications. (Forbes)

Banking & Housing/HUD

In Administration Campaign on ‘Junk Fees,’ CFPB Targets Banks: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned banks Wednesday that unexpected overdraft fees and fees charged for depositing a check that bounces likely run afoul of the law. (Roll Call)

Lawmakers, Advocates Eye Year-end Bills for Housing Credit: Lawmakers and advocates are eyeing year-end legislation as vehicles to expand a low-income housing construction incentive as opportunities dwindle to address a growing affordability crisis before the next Congress. (Roll Call) 

Tax Reform/IRS

Yellen Names O’Donnell to Temporarily Steer IRS as It Readies for Major Expansion: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday appointed Douglas O’Donnell as acting head of the IRS during a potentially transformative period for the agency. O’Donnell, who is currently deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, would take charge of the IRS until a permanent replacement for outgoing Commissioner Chuck Rettig is confirmed. (Politico)

Tax Gap Rises as IRS Finds Amount of Unpaid Taxes is Increasing: The amount of taxes owed but not paid to the government is increasing, an IRS report has found. The shortfall, known as the “tax gap,” is measured every three years. The latest numbers show that it went up by $58 billion to $496 billion for the three-year period ending in 2016, from $438 billion between 2011 and 2013. (The Hill)

IRS Hires 4,000 Customer Service Workers Ahead of Tax Season: The IRS said Thursday it has hired an additional 4,000 customer service representatives who are being trained to answer taxpayer questions during the 2023 tax filing season. (ABC News)


FAA Warns of Aviation Safety Risks Without U.S. Mandate on 5G Limits: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants the U.S. telecommunications regulatory agency to ensure a delay in some 5G C-Band transmissions from smaller operators. (Reuters)

EU, U.S. Set Up Task Force to Resolve Electric Vehicle Feud: The U.S. and the European Union have set up a task force tasked with resolving a dispute over electric vehicle batteries that the EU says would discriminate against manufacturers in the 27-nation bloc and break World Trade Organization rules. (AP News)


A NASA Satellite Launched to Detect Dust has Discovered Huge Methane Leaks: In July, NASA launched the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation, or EMIT, to perch on the International Space Station. In the three and a half months following EMIT’s launch, the tool has not only successfully mapped out massive dust plumes and their effect on the changing climate, but has also identified another key piece to the global warming puzzle: more than 50 methane “super-emitters,” some of which had previously gone unseen. (Grist)

Webb Space Telescope Uncovers Surprising Cosmic Knot in the Early Universe: Astronomers looking into the early universe using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have made a surprising discovery: a cluster of massive galaxies in the process of forming around an extremely red quasar. Our understanding of how galaxy clusters in the early universe came together and formed the cosmic web we see today will expand as a result of this research. (SciTechDaily)

ISS Partners Weigh Options for Using Commercial Space Stations:  Representatives of several countries currently involved in the ISS said during a panel at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ ASCEND conference here Oct. 25 that they are looking at options for how to continue work they currently do on the ISS on the commercial space stations in low Earth orbit (LEO) NASA is helping develop to replace it at the end of the decade. (Space News)

Russia Makes New Threats Against Commercial Satellites:  Russia has made no apologies for its destructive 2021 anti-satellite missile test and just this week threatened that commercial satellites being used to support Ukraine could be legitimate targets for attack. The White House in turn countered that any such attack “on U.S. infrastructure” would be met with a response.  (Space Policy Online)

Next-Generation Inflatable Mars Landing Gear to Get a Test During NOAA JPSS Launch on Nov. 1:  A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch the Joint Polar Surveyor System-2 (JPSS-2) weather satellite from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base early Tuesday morning (Nov. 1), but JPSS -2 isn’t the only important payload onboard the Atlas V. Also going up on Tuesday is the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) craft, a technology demonstrator whose applications could extend beyond our home planet, including enabling future human exploration of Mars. (


DOD Strategy Reports Show Rising Nuclear Tensions: Newly released Pentagon strategy documents reveal a growing U.S. military focus on adjusting policies, plans, and programs to respond to Russian threats to use nuclear weapons. (Roll Call)

Pentagon’s Shyu, LaPlante Push to Get Critical Tech into Production:  The Pentagon’s top technology officer said she’s working closely with her acquisition counterpart to ensure capabilities demonstrated through a series of joint experimentation efforts (the Rapid Development Experimentation Reserve), the first of which will focus on long-range precision fires, can quickly transition to production.  The program uses a process to gather ideas from industry and the services – the second effort will focus on contested logistics and the third group of demonstrations will center on base defense technology.  (Defense News)

Drones, Cruise Missiles Are Rising Threats to US Troops and Territory, Pentagon Says: Drones and cruise missiles increasingly threaten the United States and its allies, the Biden administration said in its new assessment of global missile threats. Released on Thursday, the Missile Defense Review arrives as kamikaze drones are being increasingly used in the conflict in Ukraine. Especially because of their low cost and wide availability, the asymmetrical threat of drones is expected to continue to grow. (Defense One)

DHS & Immigration

U.S. Removes Trump-Era Barriers to Citizenship-Test Waivers for Disabled Immigrants: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has rolled out several changes to make the naturalization process more accessible for applicants with disabilities. After months of public feedback, the federal agency has shortened and simplified its disability waiver, which is used to exempt immigrants with physical, mental, or learning disabilities from the English and civics test requirements. (NPR)


FCC Proposes 72-Hour Breach Reporting Timeline for Emergency Alert System Participants: The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed rules that would require companies such as broadcasters and cable providers that participate in public alert systems to report cyber breach incidents that affect certain equipment within 72 hours. (FedScoop)

Biden Admin Launching New Chemical Sector Cyber Strategy: The Biden administration announced a new 100-day sprint aimed at better protecting chemical facilities and manufacturers from cyberattacks. The chemical sector has been running on cybersecurity regulations that haven’t been updated in more than a decade. (Axios)

GAO says Feds Need to Better Coordinate K-12 Cybersecurity: The Department of Education and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) need to do better in coordinating efforts to aid K-12 schools in cybersecurity, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). (MeriTalk)

CISA’s Critical Infrastructure Performance Goals Win Praise, But Questions Remain About Effectiveness: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released long-awaited cross-sector cybersecurity performance goals on Thursday for critical infrastructure to provide owners and operators a quick-start guide on baseline priorities. While CISA’s performance goals are voluntary, and success depends on industry buy-in, experts suspect they could be overshadowed by incoming mandates.  (Cyberscoop)

New Federal IT and Cyber Requirements Coming to Higher Ed, Educause Says:  There are some big changes on the horizon for universities’ IT policies, relating to cybersecurity, data privacy, and web accessibility, speakers at the Educause 2022 conference in Denver, Colorado, said last week Thursday. One change is coming after the Federal Trade Commission published its revised Safeguards Rule last Dec. 9, with a one-year deadline to come into compliance with new cybersecurity protections and requirements. (Ed Scoop)

Agencies Shouldn’t ‘Just Trust’ Software Vendors’ Security Assurances, IG Warns:  A key National Institute of Standards and Technology advisor expressed skepticism at a recent meeting about a policy that encourages agencies to accept software vendors’ security promises.  The sentiment may be broadly felt but is rarely voiced by individual federal officials and sparked a discussion about what could come next in the administration’s efforts to avoid a repeat of the infamous SolarWinds hack.  (NextGov)

White House Spotlights EV Cybersecurity in Climate Push:  The White House cyber team last week gathered private sector leaders for a discussion focused on how secure electric vehicles will be key to achieving the Biden administration’s climate goals. The Office of the National Cyber Director held a meeting at the White House with electric vehicle industry executives, who talked about cybersecurity gaps in their organizations and gave recommendations on how to improve cyber standards across the industry.  (The Hill) 


Biden Signs International Climate Deal on Refrigerants: President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an international agreement that compels the United States and other countries to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are far more powerful than carbon dioxide. (AP News)

Kerry says U.S. Open to Talks on Contentious Climate Financing: U.S. climate envoy John Kerry insisted last week the United States was open to seeking middle ground on a controversy that threatens to overtake an upcoming world climate summit: a growing demand from poorer countries that the United States and other richer countries pay compensation as the culprits most responsible for wrecking the Earth’s climate. (AP News)

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