The House and Senate both return this week with a busy schedule. The House will wrap up votes by Wednesday so the Democratic Caucus can head to Baltimore for their planning retreat, which President Joe Biden is expected to visit.
Republicans in both chambers are pushing to block the Labor Department from enforcing its environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG) retirement investing rule by using the expedited process under the Congressional Review Act. That law allows passage of a measure with simple majorities in both chambers and permits the Senate minority to force a vote if they have sufficient backing. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), who has sponsored the resolution in the upper chamber, has stated he has secured the support of every Republican and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). He is looking to get one more vote from Democrats for passage, specifically either Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) or Angus King (I-ME). The White House has not yet released an official Statement of Administration Policy detailing President Biden’s position on the resolution.
Republican Senators are also planning to use the 1973 D.C. Home Rule Act to force a vote on a measure to block a local law revising the District’s criminal code. The D.C. law would update the definitions of criminal offenses, create new grades of sentences based on the severity of the crime, eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences, and broadly expand the right to a jury trial for people charged with misdemeanors. It has received widespread criticism from conservatives because it would reportedly lessen penalties for some violent crimes. However, Congress can review D.C. laws by expedited procedure within 60 days of enactment under the 1973 law. Additionally, 31 House Democrats supported the bill when it moved through the lower chamber earlier this month and it is expected to pass in the Senate, putting the President in a difficult political position of either having to veto the resolution and opening himself up to being soft on crime or signing the resolution and disappointing the criminal justice reform community.
President Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 is also scheduled to be released on March 9.
On Tuesday, President Biden will travel to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to participate in an event focused on the Administration’s health care priorities. On Friday, he will welcome German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House for a bilateral meeting.
On Monday, the House will meet to consider multiple bills under suspension.
- Bills expected under suspension of the rules
- H.Res. 132 – Responding to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023 (Rep. Joe Wilson – Foreign Affairs). The House would express condolences for the earthquake victims in parts of Syria and Turkey under the resolution.
- H.R. 538 – Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act (Rep. Curtis – Energy and Commerce). The bill would require manufacturers of certain internet-connected devices to disclose whether a product contains a camera or microphone.
- H.R. 1059 – SECURE Notarization Act of 2023 (Rep. Armstrong – Energy and Commerce). The legislation would permit notaries to perform electronic and remote notarizations.
- H.R. 1108 – To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to extend the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to grant a license or construction permit through a system of competitive bidding (Rep. McMorris Rodgers – Energy and Commerce).
- H.R. 1123 – Understanding Cybersecurity of Mobile Networks Act (Rep. Eshoo – Energy and Commerce). The legislation would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to report to Congress on the cybersecurity of mobile networks.
Tuesday – Wednesday, the House is scheduled to meet for legislative business.
- Bills expected under a rule
- H.J.Res. 30 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights” (Rep. Barr – Education and the Workforce). The resolution would block a Labor Department rule to allow employers to consider environmental, social, and governance factors when choosing investments for workers’ retirement plans.
- H.R. 347 – REIN IN Act (Rep. Stefanik – Oversight and Accountability). The legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Economic Advisers to include an inflation estimate in any major Executive Order.
On Monday, the Senate will return from its recess with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) scheduled to deliver the annual reading of George Washington’s farewell address. Then, the chamber plans to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Jamar K. Walker to be district judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.
There are also three pending cloture motions for other district judges, including Jamal N. Whitehead for the Western District of Washington, Araceli Martinez-Olguin for the Northern District of California, and Margaret R. Guzman for the District of Massachusetts.
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