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Window on Washington – September 12, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 34

September 12, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress.  Both the House and Senate are in session this week. The Senate has several lingering priorities in addition to confirmation votes, including a promised vote on permitting reform, a bill to codify same-sex marriage, and a three-month continuing resolution, which may be passed as soon as this week. The House will vote on a resolution in honor of Queen Elizabeth, a bill to prohibit a “Schedule F” classification for federal workers without Congressional approval, census reform, and whistleblower protections. It will also consider several bills under suspension, including a series of sex trafficking bills, veterans relief, and transportation bills. Hearings this week include nominations, consumer financial products, Taiwan policy, testimony from a Twitter whistleblower, using food as medicine, the right to repair, and maritime law compliance.

FY23 Appropriations. Appropriators have suggested they are close to passing a continuing resolution (CR) that will last through December 16th. It’s possible the Senate may vote on a CR as early as this week, though next week is more likely. It is not yet clear whether a CR would include the supplemental appropriations to support Ukraine or funding for COVID and monkeypox requested by the Biden administration. Republicans, in particular, remain opposed to additional funding for COVID-related expenses. After reports last week leaders might attach a same-sex marriage bill to the CR, Republicans and Democrats both voiced their preference for a standalone marriage vote separate from the CR. It was also suggested the Senate may attach a permitting reform bill to the CR, which faces steep opposition from more than 70 House Democrats.

Defense Authorizations. After the Senate Armed Services Committee advanced the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act in July, Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said he is pushing very hard for the Senate to consider the NDAA in September, or before the Senate breaks for the midterms. The House has already approved its version, which means a conference will be required to reconcile differences.

Biden Administration.  President Biden is traveling to the JFK Presidential Library in Boston today, where he will speak about his Cancer Moonshot initiative. It is expected he will announce in his remarks the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), as well as create a new National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative. Biden will host an event at the White House commemorating the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Biden will attend a domestic EV manufacturing event at the Detroit Auto Show. On Saturday, he will travel with First Lady Jill Biden to London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, which will take place next Monday.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations

Senate GOP Delivers Early Blow to Biden’s Covid and Monkeypox Request: Senate Republicans are signaling early resistance to attaching billions of dollars for Covid and monkeypox aid in a must-pass government funding bill, a troublesome sign for a White House that says vaccine money is rapidly running out. In interviews last Wednesday, GOP senators said they were skeptical of the Biden administration’s $22.4 billion request for Covid money, as well as its $4.5 billion request for combating monkeypox — citing unspent money from earlier COVID aid legislation and frustration with what they view as Democrats’ previous spending largesse. (Politico)

Senate Leans Toward Dec. 16 Stopgap Funding Bill: Senate leaders appear to be on board with an interim spending measure that will keep the government operating until Dec. 16, which is also the preferred expiration date for House Democrats as they prep a continuing resolution for a vote as soon as next week. No final action is expected on the measure this week. (Roll Call)


Democrats Seek Campaign Opportunity with Obamacare Court Ruling: Democrats are seizing on a federal judge’s ruling against ObamaCare’s prevention coverage as an opportunity to campaign on preserving health care just two months before the midterm elections. The ruling last Wednesday by Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas escalates another battle over ObamaCare, and could jeopardize access to preventive care for millions of Americans, including screenings for colorectal and other cancer, depression and hypertension, among many other services. (The Hill)

Banking & Housing

Senators Introduce the Next Retirement Savings Proposal – the EARN Act: The EARN Act is the latest addition to the lineup of proposals legislators have put forth to bolster retirement savings. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Enhancing American Retirement Act on Thursday. The two serve as Senate Finance Committee Chair and Ranking Member, respectively. (MarketWatch)

Tax Reform

White House and Senate Democrats Eye Child Tax Credit Hail Mary: The White House is engaging with Senate Democrats about making one last push for an enhanced child tax credit this year — and in return for GOP votes, may dangle support for corporate tax credits for research and development that expired last year. Some Democrats see a year-end legislative horse-trade as their last chance to enshrine some version of President Biden’s enhanced child tax credit into law before Republicans take one — or both — chambers of Congress. (Axios)


Maloney, Clyburn Request Investigation into Airlines’ Use of COVID-19 Relief Funds: Top House Democrats requested an investigation into airline companies use of pandemic funds on Thursday, following weeks of thousands of flights across the getting canceled and delayed. In a letter to Deputy Inspector General of the Treasury Richard Delmar, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and James Clyburn (D-SC) said that they were “concerned” that federal funds may have been used to pay for buyouts and early retirement packages for pilots. (The Hill)

Homeland Security & Immigration

Farmers are Eager for Senate to Vote on Migrant Worker Bill: Tensions are growing between the agriculture industry’s top Washington lobby group and some producers over an immigration bill that could make it easier to employ migrants in the food production industry. (The Hill)


Ted Cruz Amendment Blows Up Journalism Antitrust Bill: Supporters of a bill meant to give news organizations greater leverage against the giant tech companies were forced to temporarily withdraw the measure Thursday, raising new doubts about one of Congress’ prime efforts to check Silicon Valley’s power. Two hours into its Thursday markup, Republicans inserted provisions designed to limit the platforms’ abilities to moderate content, over the objections of lead sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who then withdrew the bill. She said she fully plans to move the bill forward in a bipartisan way. (Politico)

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Teeters on Verge of GOP Filibuster: The same-sex marriage bill that won over nearly 50 House Republicans is now at risk of falling to a Senate GOP filibuster — with its vote count largely hinging on how it addresses religious liberty. (Politico)

Senate Grapples with Election Reform Legislation as Time Runs Short to Act: Bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing attempts to steal elections and another attack on the Capitol is sitting on the shelf, and as the clock ticks on the current Democratic-controlled Congress it remains unclear when a vote will take place, or what the proposals will ultimately look like. (NBC News)

Environment & Interior

Sanders Vows to Oppose Controversial Schumer-Manchin Side Deal: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday blasted the side deal that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) struck earlier this summer to pass a controversial proposal to make it easier to develop fossil fuel-based energy projects. (The Hill)

72 Democrats Sign Letter Opposing Manchin Permitting Bill: Seventy-two House Democrats said Friday they oppose including legislation to change federal permitting laws in a funding bill to keep the government running at the end of September, teeing up a clash with party leadership. (Roll Call)



White House says Covid-19 Boosters Will Become Annual Shot, Just like the Flu Vaccine: The Biden administration said Tuesday that it is rolling out the newest Covid-19 booster and anticipates that going forward, Americans can expect to get annual updates to the shot just like they do for the flu vaccine. (Politico)

NIH Launches Clinical Trial Evaluating Efficacy of TPOXX Against Monkeypox: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a Phase 3 clinical trial to determine the efficacy of tecovirimat — the smallpox antiviral better known as TPOXX — for use in treating monkeypox, as current data on its effectiveness against the virus is limited. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is sponsoring the trial, which is being led by the organization’s AIDS Clinical Trials Group. The study is currently enrolling adults and children who have been infected with monkeypox in the U.S. (The Hill)

Federal Judge Rules HIV Drug Mandate Violates Religious Freedom: A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday ruled that requiring employers to provide the HIV prevention drug PrEP violates their religious freedom. The judge, Reed O’Connor of Fort Worth, also called into question mandatory coverage of all preventive health care services — a stance that could have a wide-ranging impact on the future of the 2010 health care law. That law requires employers to provide preventative care, and Reed’s ruling is not the first time the Texas judge has issued a decision to chip away at the law. In 2018, O’Connor ruled the entire health law was unconstitutional, a ruling the Supreme Court overturned in 2021. (Roll Call)

Labor & Workforce

Biden Administration Jumps into Rail, Union Talks Hoping to Avert Strike: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh participated in a meeting Wednesday between the National Mediation Board, the country’s largest rail carriers and eight unions in hopes of preventing a strike, a DOL spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO. The involvement of the NMB and now Walsh himself indicates how seriously the Biden administration is taking the threat of a railroad strike, which could come as soon as next week. It’s also a sign that contract negotiations between the employers and the organizations that represent their roughly 150,000 workers are not going as well as the White House may have hoped. (Politico)

Department of Education

Cardona says States Hiring Unqualified Teachers ‘A Slap in the Face to the Profession’: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said lowering standards and changing pathways to qualify educators is disrespectful to the profession. (The Hill)

Cardona Defends Student Loan Plan as One-Time COVID-19 Remedy: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona pushed back Wednesday against Republican criticism of the Biden administration’s new student loan debt forgiveness program, saying it would curb defaults and boost the economy. (Roll Call)

Banking & Housing/HUD

Federal Reserve’s New Bank Cop Lays Out Regulatory Agenda: The Federal Reserve’s top bank cop Michael Barr last Wednesday hinted that more stringent requirements for Wall Street and tougher oversight of cryptocurrency activity could be ahead, in his first public speech since being confirmed to the post. (Axios)

U.S. SEC Warns Against Switching Auditors to Avoid Chinese Company Trading Bans: U.S. accounting firms that agree to lead audits of New York-listed Chinese and Hong Kong companies looking to avoid potential trading bans risk breaching U.S. rules, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned last week. (Reuters)


SEC Chair Says Crypto Intermediaries Should Register with Agency: Companies that help facilitate transactions in the cryptocurrency market should register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just like other market intermediaries, the agency’s chair said. Gary Gensler said intermediaries in the crypto market provide a range of functions regulated by the SEC, including operating as an exchange, broker dealer, clearing agent and custodian, and should be registered accordingly. (Reuters)

White House Report Discusses Crypto Mining’s Ability to Mitigate Climate Change: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy warned in a report that cryptocurrency mining operations could hinder the country’s ability to mitigate climate change. It also said federal agencies should consider information from crypto miners and local utilities “in a privacy-preserving manner” to help understand and mitigate the problem. (CNBC)


U.S. FAA Moves to Protect Safety Employees from Planemaker Interference: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said last week it had finalized a policy to protect aviation employees who perform government certification duties from interference by airplane manufacturers including Boeing and others. (Reuters)

NTSB and FAA Sign Agreement on Commercial Space Mishap Investigations: National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy and Federal Aviation Administration Acting Administrator Billy Nolen signed an agreement Friday clarifying the roles of their respective agencies and how the NTSB and FAA will work together to investigate commercial space mishaps. (Clark Hill Insight)


Space Council Discusses STEM, Human Spaceflight and Commercial Regulations: Vice President Kamala Harris chaired a second meeting of the White House National Space Council last Thursday at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Texas.  In addition to discussing STEM education, NASA’s human spaceflight program and creating regulations for novel commercial space activities, Harris also said the United States will introduce a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly later this month calling on other countries to join the U.S. commitment not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent antisatellite tests. (Space Policy Online)

Commerce and Defense Departments Sign Agreement on Space Traffic Management Cooperation:  Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, announced the memorandum of agreement, or MOA, between his department and the Pentagon during a Sept. 9 meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The agreement defines how the two departments will work together to implement provisions of Space Policy Directive (SPD) 3 in 2018 that directed commerce to provide space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM) services, such as conjunction warnings, currently provided by the U.S. military. (Space News)

Steve Thur Named Director of NOAA Research: Steve Thur, Ph.D., a nationally recognized leader in coastal science and management and long-time employee at the NOAA National Ocean Service, has been appointed by Secretary Raimondo as the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. In this capacity, Thur will serve as director of NOAA’s office primarily responsible for foundational research that is key to understanding our weather, climate and marine ecosystems and he will transition into the role in early October. (NOAA)

Rosenworcel Proposes Rules to Address Growing Risk of Orbital Debris: FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel put forward new rules that would require satellite operators in low-Earth orbit to dispose of their satellites within 5 years of completing their missions. If adopted by a vote of the full Commission at its September monthly meeting, the new rules will shorten the existing 25-year guideline for deorbiting satellites after they cease to function. (Clark Hill Insight)


Pentagon Suspends F-35 Deliveries after Discovering Materials from China: The Pentagon has temporarily halted delivery of F-35 fighter jets to the military branches and international customers after Lockheed Martin discovered a metal component used in the jet’s engine had come from China, according to the Pentagon. (Politico)

Blinken, in Kyiv, Unveils $2B in US Military Aid for Europe: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kyiv on Thursday as the Biden administration announced major new military aid worth more than $2 billion for Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia. (Politico)

Pentagon Planning New Guidance to Help Contractors Squeezed by Inflation: The Defense Department is preparing new guidance that would give its contracting officers more flexibility to reimburse vendors whose costs have ballooned because of inflation, updating an earlier policy document that industry groups complained did too little to prevent contractors from bearing the full brunt of higher prices. (Federal News Network)

Pentagon Eyes Commercial Solution to Supply Chain Problems: The U.S. Department of Defense is looking to commercially available software to help address supply chain disruptions, a growing concern as companies large and small deal with the continued fallout of pandemic-related parts availability issues. In a solicitation from the Defense Innovation Unit, a Pentagon agency that fosters DoD adoption of commercial technology, the department is seeking software solutions to build new supply pathways for critical components and manage risk across key areas of the industrial base. (Defense News)

Boeing, Northrop Grumman Join Group Pushing 3D Printing to Small Suppliers: Boeing and Northrop Grumman have joined a White House-backed consortium that is pushing smaller aerospace and defense suppliers to manufacture more 3D-printed parts, in part to address supply chain challenges and risks. The companies join Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, GE, Siemens, and Honeywell as members of the AM Forward group that the Biden administration announced in May. (Defense One)

DHS & Immigration

Biden Administration Finalizes End of Trump-Era ‘Public Charge’ Rule: The Biden administration released its finalized immigration policy Thursday on the so-called “public charge” criteria for green card applicants, part of a years-long legal battle to undo efforts in the prior administration to limit eligibility for permanent residency. (Roll Call)


White House Renews Call to ‘Remove’ Section 230 Liability Shield: The White House on Thursday called on Congress to remove an important liability shield for tech companies. President Joe Biden had previously called for revoking the liability shield, which allows platforms to disseminate content without being liable for it — known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 — on the campaign trail in January 2020. But the latest announcement builds upon increased calls by the administration to rein in large tech companies. (Politico)

USPS ‘Actively Defunding’ its Police Force Amid Spike in Postal Crime, Associations Warn Lawmakers: The Postal Service, already struggling in some regions to cover delivery routes with available staff, is experiencing a spike in postal crime that further hurts employee recruitment and retention, postal associations told lawmakers. Frank Albergo, national president of the Postal Police Officers Association, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subcommittee on government operations that postal police staffing has shrunk by approximately 65% since 2002. (Federal News Network)

White House Lists Six Ways to Hold Tech Platforms Accountable: After a “listening session” that gathered experts and critics of tech platforms’ power at the White House Thursday, the Biden administration released a list of six “Principles for Enhancing Competition and Tech Platform Accountability.” With efforts to pass tougher rules governing tech competition and privacy largely stymied this year in Congress, the executive branch is where critics of tech power are pinning their hopes. (Axios)


CISA to Formally Solicit Industry Feedback on Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Rules: Federal cyber officials will formally ask industry leaders “in the next couple of days” to help shape the regulatory structure for cybersecurity incident reporting, Jen Easterly, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said last Wednesday. The incident reporting framework follows the new law that President Biden signed in March requiring that critical infrastructure owners and operators to report major cyberattacks to CISA within 72 hours and ransomware attacks within 24 hours. (CyberScoop)

Feds Warn Schools on Increased Threat of Cyberattacks: The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are warning cyberattacks may increase against schools as the academic year begins. In a joint cybersecurity advisory published last week, the agencies detailed that a criminal syndicate known as Vice Society is “disproportionately” targeting the education sector with ransomware attacks. (The Hill)

White House Developing Cyber Federal Workforce Strategy to be More ‘Action Oriented’: Agencies have long struggled to compete with the private sector for cyber talent, so to address that issue the White House is pulling together a new cybersecurity workforce strategy that promises to help the federal government grapple with longstanding cyber workforce challenges, including an emphasis on stronger implementation mechanisms to ensure agencies follow through on the plan’s goals and objectives. (Federal News Network)

Department of Energy

To Decarbonize Industry, DOE Road Map Focuses on Efficiency, Electrification and Low-Carbon Fuels: The U.S. Department of Energy last Wednesday published an industrial decarbonization road map, laying out a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions associated with five sectors: chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, iron and steel, cement production, and the food and beverage industry. (UtilityDive)

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