Both chambers of Congress will return to action today to begin the second week of the April legislative session. In the House, floor activity for the week includes a pair of immigration-related measures pertaining to the Trump administration’s travel ban on individuals from predominantly Muslim countries, as well as access to legal counsel for immigrants (H.R. 1333; H.R. 1573). Additionally, House lawmakers will also take up a bill that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state, providing equal representation in Congress for its residents.
Another busy week in both chambers. First, in the House, floor activity includes a pair of immigration-related measures, as well as a bill to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. Additionally, now that Republican opposition to suspension bills has abated, the House is taking up a slew of suspension bills out of the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) that were delayed last month, including the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act that would offer banking services to legal cannabis businesses.
Congress will return this week to kick off the April legislative session as lawmakers turn their attention to crafting legislation that closely aligns with President Joe Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” for infrastructure. The Senate will open later this afternoon to resume consideration of the President’s pending nominees, starting with Polly Trottenberg’s nomination to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation. In the month ahead, Senators are poised to take up several House-passed bills — as well as Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions that seek to overturn Trump era regulatory actions — that will face a narrow path to passage in the 50-50 Senate.
Congress stands adjourned for the spring district work period and will convene for votes during the week of April 12. Looking ahead to the April session, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outlined the upper chamber’s agenda when senators return in two weeks. The “Dear Colleague” letter notes that the Senate will focus on three main issue areas, including: (1) climate change, economic recovery, and jobs; (2) voting rights and civil rights; and (3) health and gun safety. The upcoming session is expected to include consideration of several House-passed bills that will likely be stonewalled due to the 50-50 split in the Senate. As such, the pressure will be on Democrats to modify or eliminate the filibuster as the Majority seeks to clinch legislative wins on key policy priorities.
The House and Senate are in a district work period (known as recess when many of us used to be staffers) for the next two weeks. There are no floor votes or committee hearings scheduled. Both chambers are scheduled to return the week of April 12th. During that week, it is expected that Gary Gensler’s nomination for SEC Chair will be voted on by the Senate.
House lawmakers have completed their voting sessions for the month of March after passing a measure to ensure that the increase in deficit spending as a result of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) does not trigger statutorily-required across-the-board spending cuts. The bill would avert billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts — known as sequestration — to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs required under the 2010 pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) law. If the Senate does not act on the PAYGO sequester prior to the end of this year’s session, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the increase in spending would trigger roughly $381 billion in funding cuts annually over five years, beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The House will convene for a Committee Work Week next week, and its next scheduled voting day is Tuesday, April 13.
With the House in a “Committee Work” period next week there is no expectation of votes on the Floor of the House. Meanwhile, the Senate is in session for Floor votes, and has teed up consideration of a bipartisan deal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application date to May 31, while also allowing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue processing pending applications for up to 30 days after the new expiration date. This bill, which has already passed the House is expected to pass prior to the March 31 expiration date.
After President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law last Thursday, Congress will next look to ensure that the massive increase in deficit spending does not trigger statutorily-required across-the-board spending cuts. According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), lawmakers will take up a bill this week that seeks to avert billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts — known as sequestration — to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs required under the 2010 pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) law. If lawmakers do not act on the PAYGO sequester prior to the end of this year’s session, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the increase in spending would trigger roughly $381 billion in funding cuts annually over five years, beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2022. In the past, Members have typically coalesced behind a PAYGO waiver in a bipartisan manner, most recently in 2017 following passage of the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
The House is once again passing (or preparing to pass) legislation to address major issues in our country (gun control, voting rights, Violence Against Women, Immigration etc.) and the question is what is going to happen when it reaches the Senate. Progressive Democrats continue to push to end the filibuster claiming that the country has voted Democratic, and this anachronistic tool of segregationists is being used to thwart the progressive agenda that the country voted for.