White House Requests More Ukraine Aid, Nominees on the Agenda, and 78 Individuals Receive Clemency
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.
78 individuals receive clemency: Last week, President Biden used his Article II authority to grant commutations to 75 individuals and give pardons to three others. The administration also announced significant expansions to second-chance programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals. As Kevin Ring notes, these commutations are the most by a president in the past 52 years…by a lot.
Nominees kick off the week: The Senate returns today at 3:00 pm to resume consideration of the nomination of Joshua Frost to serve as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. A roll call vote on the cloture motion is expected to begin around 5:30 pm. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also filed cloture on the nomination of Elizabeth de Leon Bhargava to serve as an Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A tough week for nominees: On Tuesday, the Senate failed to advance the nomination of Lisa Nell Cook to serve as a member of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System. Two Democrats, Sens. Ron Wyden and Chris Murphy, tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the vote. The cloture motions for Alvaro M. Bedoya to serve as a Federal Trade Commissioner and Lisa M. Gomez to serve as an Assistant Secretary of Labor were withdrawn.
More Ukraine aid on the agenda: President Biden has requested $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine that “seeks to address immediate and near-term security and economic needs.” According to the fact sheet from the White House, $20.4 billion of the request is for security and military aid for Ukraine, $8.5 billion is for economic assistance for Ukraine, $3 billion will go toward humanitarian assistance. This request is on top of the $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine included in the omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2471, in March and drawdowns from existing funds made by the administration. It’s possible that the additional Ukraine aid could be combined with additional COVID-19 funding, but that's far from a certainty. However, it’s unclear when exactly this would move, although we guess sooner rather than later.
Slowly moving to conference on the “China bill”: Although the Senate named conferees with the House to negotiate a conference report on differences between competing visions for legislation aimed at boosting competition with China, the Senate only just formally passed the motion to go to conference on H.R. 4521. This is something that will almost certainly be coming back up in the weeks ahead.
Senate committee schedule: Below are some Senate committee hearings that may be of interest. The full Senate committee schedule for the week is here.
Connecting Workers and Communities: Preparing and Supporting the Broadband Workforce (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety; Tuesday at 9:30 am)
State Department Authorization: Strengthening U.S. Diplomacy for the 21st Century (Foreign Relations, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
An Ethical Judiciary: Transparency and Accountability for 21st Century Courts (Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Business Meeting (Rules and Administration, Tuesday at 12:00 pm)
Business Meeting (Foreign Relations, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Excessive Swipe Fees and Barriers to Competition in the Credit and Debit Card Systems (Judiciary, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Laws and Enforcement Governing the Political Activities of Tax Exempt Entities (Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, Wednesday at 2:00 pm)
Platform Transparency: Understanding the Impact of Social Media (Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law; Wednesday at 2:00 pm)
Nominations Hearing (Foreign Relations, Wednesday at 2:15 pm)
Examining Overdraft Fees and Their Effects on Working Families (Banking, House, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection; Wednesday at 2:30 pm)
Resources and Authorities Needed to Protect and Secure the Homeland (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Wednesday at 2:30 pm)
Executive Business Meeting (Judiciary, Thursday at 9:00 am)
Examining Student Loan Servicers and Their Impact on Workers (Banking, House, and Urban Affairs; Thursday at 10:00 am)
Securing and Ensuring Order on the Southwest Border (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Thursday at 10:15 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
District work period in the House: The House is in recess this week. The chamber will return on Tuesday, May 10.
Domestic terrorism bill pulled: There was some drama in the House last week. Democratic leadership had to pull the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, H.R. 350, from consideration after some progressives expressed concerns about the legislation. We’ll see if Democrats are able to come to an agreement on amendments to the base text. Either way, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is a messaging bill that’s not going anywhere in the Senate.