What to Watch for in the July Congressional Work Period.

July 10, 2023

Congress returns to Washington to kick off what is slated to be a very busy July work period. Lawmakers will look to make progress on several key “must-pass” items this month, starting with the fiscal year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House this week.

Here’s a look at some of the key policy issues we are watching over the course of the July work period:

  • Senate Priorities. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) penned a “Dear Colleague” letter yesterday outlining the chamber’s schedule for the upcoming work period. In addition to key “must-pass” items, Leader Schumer wrote that he is hopeful to make progress on a host of bipartisan bills throughout the course of the month. Notable priorities cited in the Majority Leader’s letter include: (1) permitting reform; (2) the 2023 Farm Bill; (3) prescription drug and insulin pricing; (4) cannabis banking legislation; (5) bank executive accountability; (6) U.S.-China competitiveness; (7) promoting community health; (8) combatting fentanyl; (9) rail safety reform; and (10) advancing online safety and innovation.
  • Appropriations. FY 2024 appropriations markups are expected to resume as Congress looks to pass all 12 funding bills by the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet on Thursday of this week to consider the Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), and Legislative Branch funding bills. Intel also suggests that the spending measures for Transportation-HUD (T-HUD); Energy-Water, and State-Foreign Operations will be marked up during the week of July 17. As of now, the bills for Labor-HHS-Education, Defense, and Homeland Security are slated to be considered by the committee during the last week of July, but timing could slip due to lingering policy disagreements.
  • Meanwhile… House lawmakers have passed six out of 12 appropriations bills thus far, but a schedule for the remaining measures has yet to be announced. Intel from Capitol Hill suggests that House GOP leadership is toying with the idea of putting a continuing resolution (CR) on the floor this month to provide appropriators with more time to complete their work. Further concerns from House conservatives may also need to be quelled by GOP leadership given some of the Freedom Caucus’ demands on spending cuts for the next fiscal year.
  • FAA Reauthorization. On the floor next week, the House is slated to take up a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with strong bipartisan support last month, and is widely expected to pass the full chamber once it hits the floor. Conversely, the Senate Commerce Committee’s process for passing a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill remains at a standstill over several key amendments, including ones pertaining to pilot training and the DCA perimeter. The committee’s markup, which was postponed last month over these lingering disagreements, has yet to be rescheduled for this month. Congress has until September 30 to reauthorize the FAA.
  • Pandemic Preparedness. Lawmakers on key health care committees of jurisdiction will look to reauthorize and reform the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act before the September 30 deadline. Notably, the House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to mark up its version of the bill on Thursday of this week. However, it remains to be seen whether disagreements over drug shortage provisions are close to being resolved. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) released a bipartisan, staff-level discussion draft last week, and a markup is reportedly being eyed for later in the month. Click here to read TRP’s analysis of the discussion draft.
  • NDAA. Both chambers are poised to consider the FY 2024 NDAA with the goal of getting it to President Biden’s desk for signature ahead of the August Recess. House lawmakers are set to take up their version of the bill when they return this week. More than 1500 amendments have been filed to the annual defense policy measure, and the Rules Committee will meet tomorrow to determine how many will be debated. The Senate’s NDAA timing has yet to be formally announced, but Leader Schumer’s letter indicated that consideration is imminent upon House passage.
  • AI. Congress is set to continue its fact-finding endeavor on artificial intelligence (AI) this month. In the Senate, lawmakers will gather for the remaining two of three senators-only briefings on the subject, after holding the first last month. Senators will also be gearing up to the anticipated September start of a series of informational “AI Insight Forums” announced by Majority Leader Schumer in June as a complement to traditional congressional hearings. Leader Schumer has projected that comprehensive AI legislation will emerge within “months,” suggesting that a bill could begin to take shape before the end of this year. In the meantime, expect further hearings on AI-related concerns to be held throughout this month, starting with a Senate Judiciary hearing on AI and intellectual property (IP) later this week.