Gun Control Bills in the House, Senate to Consider Bill for Veterans Exposed to PFAS
By Jason Pye - Director, Rule of Law Initiatives
Point of Order is a (mostly) weekly preview of key congressional activity for those with more than a passing interest in federal policy.
Time is running out: There are only 23 legislative days on the House Calendar until the beginning of the August recess and 29 legislatures days scheduled in the Senate. (Officially, it’s 29 in the Senate, but the Senate rarely works a full week.) The number of days to get legislation done before the August recess and the very short September work period before the midterm election is running out. This means the number of days to get the EQUAL Act passed is running out.
House schedule and suspensions: The House returns tomorrow at 2:00 pm for legislative business. First and last votes on Tuesday are expected around 6:30 pm. The chamber will be in session through Thursday. Last votes for the week are expected at 3:00 pm on Thursday. As of now, no votes are expected on Friday. There are 12 bills (listed below) on the suspension calendar for the week.
Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act, H.R. 6087 (Education and Labor Committee)
PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act, H.R. 7352 (Sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velázquez / Small Business Committee)
COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act, H.R. 7334 (Small Business Committee)
Hubzone Price Evaluation Preference Clarification Act, H.R. 5879 (Small Business Committee)
Small Business Workforce Pipeline Act, H.R. 7622 (Small Business Committee)
Supporting Small Business and Career and Technical Education Act, H.R. 7664 (Small Business Committee)
Women-Owned Small Business Program Transparency Act, H.R. 7670 (Small Business Committee)
Strengthening Subcontracting for Small Businesses Act, H.R. 7694 (Small Business Committee)
Bankruptcy Threshold Adjustment and Technical Corrections Act, S. 3823 (Judiciary Committee)
Water Resources Development Act, H.R. 7776 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby, H.Con.Res. 88 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Food and Drug Amendments Act, H.R. 7667 (Energy and Commerce Committee)
Bills that come to the floor under suspension of the rules require two-thirds of members present and voting for passage. This is the most common way that bills considered by the House come to the floor. Some of these bills may be passed by a voice vote, rather than a roll call vote. Most bills that come to the floor under suspension aren’t widely considered controversial, although leadership may occasionally test a bill under suspension to gauge opposition or sneak a bill through the chamber.
Rule bills: The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 2:00 pm to markup the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, H.R. 2377, and the Protecting Our Kids Act, H.R. 7910. These are gun control bills that are moving to the floor in response to the recent spate of tragic mass shootings, including the mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York. A summary of the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act is available here. A summary of the Protecting Our Kids Act is available here.
NDAA is coming: The House Armed Services subcommittee will begin marking up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2023 this week. The schedule of subcommittee markups is available here. A full committee markup is expected on Wednesday, June 22. Although the House is doing its work on NDAA, the past two authorizations weren’t completed until December 2020 and December 2021.
Primetime TV for the January 6 Committee: The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will hold a hearing in primetime on Thursday at 8:00 pm. Almost all of the committee’s work to this point has been behind closed doors, so a public hearing, especially one in primetime, is going to be a big deal. The committee is still also working out its subpoena requests with the members from whom testimony is sought, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH).
House committee schedule: Below are some House committee hearings that may be of interest. The full House committee schedule for the week can be found here.
Cybersecurity and Risk Management at VA: Addressing Ongoing Challenges and Moving Forward (Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Arts and Humanities (Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Wednesday at 9:30 am)
Addressing the Roadway Safety Crisis: Building Safer Roads for All (Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Military to Main Street: Serving Veteran Entrepreneurship (Small Business, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
The Urgent Need to Address the Gun Violence Epidemic (Oversight and Reform, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Hearing on Legislative Measures (Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Markup of H.R. 7900 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Thursday at 8:30 am)
Turning the Tide for Ocean Climate Action: Unleashing the Climate Benefits of Our Blue Planet (Climate Crisis, Thursday at 9:00 am)
A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Economic Perspectives on Title I Commodities and Title XI Crop Insurance (Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, Thursday at 9:00 am)
Examining Civil Rights Litigation Reform, Part 2: State and Local Government Employer Liability (Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties; Thursday at 9:30 am)
Markup of H.R. 7900 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, (Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations, Thursday at 9:30 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
And over in the Senate: The Senate returns today at 3:00 pm to consider the nomination of Alex Wagner to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Airport. A vote on the cloture motion for Wagner’s nomination is expected around 5:30 pm. It’s possible that the Senate will consider the Honoring Our PACT Act, H.R. 3967. The cloture motion on the motion to proceed was filed before the recess, so a vote on the cloture motion could happen in the same vote series today. The Honoring Our PACT Act is aimed at increasing access to healthcare for veterans exposed to harmful toxins, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and radiation. The House passed the bill in March by a vote of 256 to 174.
Potential legislative items are adding up: While the House will pass its gun control legislation this week, this is largely for messaging purposes. Any legislation on this issue that has a realistic shot of becoming law will come out of the Senate. There are a couple of working groups on the issue that are exploring potential policy ideas, including grants to states to implement extreme risk protection orders. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has been tapped by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to negotiate with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is also involved in this negotiation. Another working group includes Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Murphy and Sinema are also involved in this working group. There’s also the conference committee on the bipartisan innovation and competitiveness bill, also known as the “China bill,” H.R. 4521. Given the sheer number of committees involved in this legislation, the conference report is going to take some time to finish. Other legislation that may or may not happen soon is the COVID-19 supplemental appropriations and FDA user fees extension.
Senate committee schedule: Below are some Senate committee hearings that may be of interest. The full Senate committee schedule for the week is here.
Examining the ‘Metastasizing’ Domestic Terrorism Threat After the Buffalo Attack (Judiciary, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2023 for the National Guard and Reserve (Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Hearings to examine ransomware attacks and ransom payments enabled by cryptocurrency, focusing on rising threats (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
To receive a closed briefing on around the world threat assessment (Foreign Relations, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Hearings to examine legislative measures (Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Tuesday at 3:00 pm)
Nominations Hearing (Judiciary, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Nomination Hearing (Environment and Public Works, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Hearings to examine the path forward on U.S.-Syria policy, focusing on strategy and accountability (Foreign Relations, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Executive Business Meeting (Judiciary, Thursday at 9:00 am)
Business meeting to consider pending calendar business (Foreign Relations, Thursday at 9:30 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
Ten-year budget outlook: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released the updated Economic and Budget Outlook. This report provides economic and budget processions for FY 2022 and the ten-year budgetary window, FY 2023 through FY 2032. First, the good news. The budget deficit this fiscal year is expected to come in lower than expected. The CBO projected in its previous report that the budget deficit in FY 2022 would be $1.153 trillion, or 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and that the share of the debt held by the public would be 100.3 percent of GDP. Well, the budget deficit is now projected to come in at $1.036 trillion, or 4.2 percent of GDP, and the share of the public debt held by the public is 97.9 percent of GDP. It’s an improvement. However, the bad news is that the budgetary picture begins to look worse at the end of the ten-year budget window than previously projected. Keep in mind that the individual tax reforms of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act automatically expire at the end of tax year 2025, so despite an increase in revenue as a percentage of GDP, outlays will also jump, as well the share of public debt. Eventually, this is something I’m going to write about on my own time because the finances of the United States are a serious issue that seemingly few are concerned about. When it finally hits us that we need to address the problems, it’ll be too late to avoid the economic pain.