The Senate is planning to vote Wednesday on a measure to block a local law revising Washington, D.C.’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. Thirty-one House Democrats supported the bill when it moved through the lower chamber in February, and it is now expected to pass in the Senate with over 70 votes, signaling additional Democratic opposition to the D.C. bill. Furthermore, President Biden has promised he will not veto the resolution and instead sign it into law, disappointing the criminal justice reform community.
Senate Democrats are having to operate without their effective majority as they are faced with a slew of absences from members due to health issues. This week, Sens. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are both expected to be away from Washington. Fetterman is getting in-patient care for depression and Feinstein was hospitalized last week with shingles.
President Biden will release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 on Thursday. House Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) has already begun work on the basic framework of a budget resolution, aiming to finish the document in the next 30 days. In the upper chamber, Senate appropriators have reached an agreement to begin negotiations on the topline spending levels in the hopes of reaching a bipartisan consensus for the package’s framework.
On Thursday, President Biden will travel to Philadelphia to release his budget for fiscal year 2024. On Friday, Biden will welcome European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the White House.
On Tuesday, the House will meet to consider multiple bills under suspension.
- Bills expected under suspension of the rules
- H.R. 502 – To amend title 38, U.S. Code, to ensure that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs repays members of the Armed Forces for certain contributions made by such members toward Post-9/11 Educational Assistance, as amended (Rep. Banks – Veterans’ Affairs).
- H.R. 815 – RELIEVE Act, as amended (Rep. Rodgers – Veterans’ Affairs). The bill would expand emergency health care coverage for veterans at facilities outside the VA.
- H.R. 753 – VA COST SAVINGS Enhancements Act, as amended (Rep. Bost – Veterans’ Affairs). The bill would require the VA to purchase and install medical waste treatment equipment at facilities where use of an onsite treatment system could reduce costs.
- H.R. 1226 – Wounded Warrior Access Act, as amended (Rep. Aguilar – Veterans’ Affairs). The bill would require the VA to establish a secure online resource for veterans to submit electronic requests for benefit claim records.
- H.R. 1123 – Understanding Cybersecurity of Mobile Networks Act, as amended (Rep. Eshoo – Energy and Commerce). The legislation would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to report on mobile service networks’ cybersecurity, including vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks and surveillance by foreign governments and other actors.
- Bills expected under a rule
- H.R. 140 – Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act (Rep. Comer – Oversight and Accountability). The measure would bar federal employees from censoring lawful speech on private online platforms. It defines censorship as influencing or coercing to remove speech protected by the First Amendment on any interactive computer service.
- H.J.Res. 27 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, U.S. Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense, and Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” (Rep. Sam Graves – Transportation and Infrastructure).
- S. 619 – A bill to require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information relating to the origin of COVID-19, and for other purposes (Sen. Hawley – Intelligence). The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent on March 1.
- Possible Consideration of H.Con.Res. 21 – Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the U.S. Armed Forces from Syria within 180 days of adoption (Rep. Gaetz – Foreign Affairs).
On Monday, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on Robert Stewart Ballou’s nomination to be a judge for the Western District of Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is also working to force votes on two other district court nominees who received bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee: Andrew G. Schopler for the Southern District of California and Arun Subramanian for the Southern District of New York.