House Considers Bill to Change Fed's Mandate, Approps and NDAA Markups, Gun Control Deal in the Senate
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.
An update on Sentencing Commission nominees: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week with the seven nominees to the U.S. Sentencing Commission–Carlton W. Reeves (also nominated to serve as chair), John Gleeson, Claria Horn Boom, Luis Felipe Restrepo, Claire McCusker Murray, Laura E. Mate, and Candice C. Wong. The next step is a markup in committee, the date of which isn’t clear at this time. The committee has a business meeting on Thursday, but the Sentencing Commission nominees aren’t included in the notice. As noted in prior newsletters, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has not had a quorum since January 2019.
House schedule and suspensions: The House returns today 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. There are five (5) bills (listed below) on the suspension calendar for the week. Additional legislative items are possible.
AAIM Act, H.R. 6270 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act, S. 516 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Post-Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act, H.R. 2020 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Small State and Rural Rescue Act, H.R. 7211 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
Ocean Shipping Reform Act, (Transportation and Infrastructure 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 today at 2:00 pm to markup the rule for the Financial Services Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Economic Justice Act, H.R. 2543; the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, H.R. 2773; and the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, H.R. 7606. The Financial Services Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Economic Justice Act would essentially make minimizing and eliminating racial disparities part of the Federal Reserve’s mandate. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would fund wildlife and plant conservation, strategies for protecting wildlife and plants, and education and recreation programs. The Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act (H.R. 7606 is the vehicle for this) is an omnibus of bills to address food supply chain issues and gas prices. Additional legislation is always possible.
SCOTUS security: In light of the recent attempt on the life of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the House is expected to vote on the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, S. 4160. Granted, The bill didn’t appear on the suspension or rule bills for the week. The Supreme Court Police Parity Act would amend 40 U.S.C. § 6121 to extend protection to the families of the Chief Justice and Associate Justices. The bill passed the Senate in early May by unanimous consent.
Another January 6 hearing today: As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held a hearing last week that featured testimony from Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and documentarian Nick Quested. The select committee also showed and video from some individuals close to former President Trump—including his daughter, Ivanka Trump; son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and attorney general, William Barr—and individuals prosecuted for their role in the insurrection. The select committee will hold another hearing today at 10:00 am. Those slated to testify include Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stephen, election lawyer Ben Ginsberg, and former Fox News contributor Chris Stirewalt. As has been noted by the media, the select committee is clearly trying to prove that Trump knew he lost the election but proceeded to try to influence the counting of electoral votes. Whether the Department of Justice decides there’s enough evidence to proceed to a criminal case against Trump is an entirely different story. There are hearings scheduled for Wednesday at 10:00 am and Thursday at 1:00 pm.
It’s approps season: These weren’t on the House Appropriations Committee website when I last checked, but we did receive a heads up that Approps subcommittees will begin marking up the various appropriations bills. Each appropriations bill will go through its respective subcommittee and eventually through the full committee before being referred to the floor. Full committee markups, which are not listed below, are scheduled to begin on June 22 and be completed on June 30. It’s worth noting that this is past the timetable in Sec. 300 of the Budget Act (2 U.S. Code § 631), which sets June 10 as the date for the last approps bill to be reported by the House Appropriations Committee and June 30 as the date for the House to complete action on the last approps bill. But, you know, “A” for effort, especially considering that almost no one expects anything other than continuing resolution in September.
Wednesday, June 15
Defense (9:30 am, closed markup)
Legislative Branch (11:00 am)
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (1:00 pm)
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Administration, and Related Agencies (2:30 pm)
Thursday, June 16
Homeland Security (10:00 am)
Financial Services and General Government (11:30 am)
Tuesday, June 21
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (4:00 pm)
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies (5:30 pm)
Wednesday, June 22
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (5:00 pm)
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (6:30 pm)
Thursday, June 23
Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (4:00 pm)
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (5:30 pm)
One other thing on approps: This is such a detail, but it really grinds my gears to hear approps bills referred to as the “budget.” They’re not. Don’t do that. The budget is a separate process and really only applies to discretionary spending, which these appropriations bills cover. Discretionary spending represents roughly 30 percent of federal outlays. Everything else (mandatory spending, interest on the debt) is set on autopilot.
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.
Markup of Various Measures (Financial Services, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Are Governmentwide Contracts Helping or Hurting Small Contractors? (Small Business, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on Non-SNAP USDA Nutrition Programs (Agriculture, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Examining Freight Rail Safety (Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
What’s the Forecast: A Look at the Future of Weather Research (Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Examining Federal Efforts to Prevent, Detect, and Prosecute Pandemic Relief Fraud to Safeguard Funds for All Eligible Americans (Coronavirus Crisis, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Protecting America’s Consumers: Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Data Privacy and Security (Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Tuesday at 10:30 am)
How the American Rescue Plan Saved Lives and the U.S. Economy (Budget, Tuesday at 10:30 am)
Markup of Various Measures (Oversight and Reform, Tuesday at 12:30 pm)
State Perspectives on Cutting Methane Pollution (Climate Crisis, Tuesday at 1:00 pm)
Reviewing DHS’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program (Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, and Accountability; Tuesday at 2:00 pm)
Markup of Various Measures (Judiciary, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Current Status of ISIS and al Qaeda (Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency (Agriculture, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
The Burnout Epidemic and What Working Women Need for a Stronger Economy (Ways and Means, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Tools to Combat Gun Trafficking and Reduce Gun Violence in Our Communities (Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, Wednesday at 11:30 am)
Seresto Flea and Tick Collars: Examining Why a Product Linked to More than 2,500 Pet Deaths Remains on the Market (Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Wednesday at 2:00 pm)
Ensuring Independence and Building Trust: Considering Reforms to Whistleblower Protections at VA (Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Thursday at 10:00 am)
U.S. Efforts to Support European Energy Security (Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber; Thursday at 10:00 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
Legislative activity in the Senate: The Senate returns today at 3:00 pm to resume consideration of the Honoring Our PACT Act, H.R. 3967. The Honoring Our PACT Act aims to increase healthcare access for veterans exposed to harmful toxins, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and radiation. A roll call vote on the substitute amendment offered by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS), S.Amdt. 5051, is expected around 5:30 pm.
There’s a framework on gun control: The bipartisan working group on gun control led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) has produced a framework agreement. The framework agreement, which is available here, includes grants to states to create and run red flag programs, grants for mental health, and funding for school resources officers. It’s very important to note that text still has to be completed before the agreement comes to the floor, and text really is everything when it’s all said and done. However, ten Republicans have signed on to the framework, which is obviously key to getting over procedural hurdles in the Senate. In addition to text, the amendment process will be interesting to watch. President Biden has said that he will sign the bill into law should it reach his desk.
Leadership reactions to the gun control framework: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) didn’t outright endorse the framework, but his reaction was positive. He also praised both Murphy and Cornyn. “The principles they announced today show the value of dialogue and cooperation,” said McConnell. “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “[The] announcement of a bipartisan gun-safety framework is a good first step to ending the persistent inaction to the gun violence epidemic that has plagued our country and terrorized our children for far too long. Once the text of this agreement is finalized, I will put this bill on the floor as soon as possible so that the Senate can act quickly to advance gun-safety legislation.”
NDAA markups in SASC: The Senate Armed Services subcommittee will mark up the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2023 between today and tomorrow. The full list of times for the subcommittee markups is available here. Most of the markups are closed. The full committee markup is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. The full committee markup is closed.
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 Impact of South Dakota v. Wayfair on Small Businesses and Remote Sales (Finance, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Considering the Index Fund Voting Process (Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Executive Session (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Protecting Our Democracy’s Frontline Workers (Judiciary, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Strengthening our Workforce and Economy through Higher Education and Immigration (Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety; Tuesday at 2:30 pm)
Full Committee Hearing To Examine Short And Long Term Solutions To Extreme Drought In The Western U.S. (Energy and Natural Resources, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Protecting America’s Children From Gun Violence (Judiciary, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Hearing on the 2022 National Drug Control Strategy (Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Wednesday at 2:00 pm)
Examining the Findings and Recommendations of GAO’s 2022 Report on Duplication, Overlap, Fragmentation, and Opportunities to Achieve Financial Benefits (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight, Wednesday at 2:30 pm)
Baby Formula and Beyond: The Impact of Consolidation on Families and Consumers (Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights; Wednesday at 2:30 pm)
Supply Chain Resiliency: Alleviating Backlogs and Strengthening Long-Term Security (Finance, Wednesday at 3:00 pm)
Executive Business Meeting (Judiciary, Thursday at 9:00 am)
An Update on the Ongoing Federal Response to COVID-19: Current Status and Future Planning (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Thursday at 9:30 am)
Legislative Hearing (Environment and Public Works, Thursday at 10:00 am)
Nominations Hearing (Foreign Relations, Thursday at 10:15 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
Record Store Day: This coming Saturday, June 18, is Record Store Day. Yes, it’s a thing. (Actually, this is the second one this year.) There are a bunch of new releases and re-pressings coming out. I’m going to try to get ahold of Collective Soul’s Disciplined Breakdown. (I grew up near their hometown, Stockbridge, Georgia.) You can check out the full list of releases here and find a local record store near you here.