Spending package headed for House debate

Jan. 6 select committee holds first hearing

The Capitol will be busy this week.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The Capitol will be busy this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 26, 2021 at 11:00am

It will be a busy week on both sides of the Capitol as the House considers a package of appropriations bills and the Senate tries to nail down a deal on infrastructure legislation, with a potentially fraught first hearing of the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. Monday for consideration of 19 bills under suspension of the rules, including a measure related to “Havana Syndrome.”

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. Monday to resume consideration of Todd Sunhwae Kim's nomination to be an assistant attorney general. At 5:30 p.m. the Senate is expected to vote on a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination.

At the White House, meanwhile, President Joe Biden gives a speech on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and then later will meets with the prime minister of Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

Get on the bus

Out of a slew of submissions, the House Rules Committee is deciding which amendments to a seven-bill spending package will make it to the floor this week.

The meeting (2 p.m., H-313) concerns the first fiscal 2022 package the House will consider, which combines the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD bills.

Democratic leaders are also leaving open the option of considering more spending bills this week. The Rules panel will meet Tuesday on the Legislative Branch, State-Foreign Operations and Commerce-Justice-Science measures.

Lawmakers submitted hundreds of amendments to the package, including 186 amendments to the Labor-HHS-Education bill.

Most of the GOP health amendments to the measure fall into three buckets: plans to strike controversial Democratic priorities, target the Wuhan lab that some believe may have led to the pandemic or change COVID-19 policies, and reduce topline spending.

In the Agriculture bill, Republicans filed a mix of policy riders that would bar the Agriculture Department from taking certain climate actions and amendments that would shift climate-related funding to other purposes, such as broadband service, Ellyn Ferguson writes.

Senate negotiators consider range of infrastructure pay-fors

In their quest to pay for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Senate negotiators are considering tapping revenue sources used in past infrastructure measures.

One of those would let employers use more generous interest rate assumptions in calculating how much they need to contribute to tax-deductible pension plans, which would free up cash flow for companies and tax revenue for the Treasury.

Another proposal is less popular: extending higher fees charged to lenders by the giant government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that expire in October.

The senators are also considering using a range of health care offsets. Those include extending statutory cuts to Medicare, repurposing COVID-19 funds for hospitals and delaying a Trump-era rule on prescription drug rebates.

The mix also reportedly includes a ban on "spread pricing," a practice where pharmacy benefit managers charge insurers and patients more than the cost of a prescription drug, and a provision to require drugmakers to refund Medicare for the unused amounts of medication in single-dose vials administered under Medicare's Part B outpatient program.

Senators are hoping to finish talks on the package on Monday, setting up the possibility of another procedural vote on the bill this week.

Committees

The Jan. 6 select committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Tuesday. The same day, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will testify in a budget hearing with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (10 a.m., 366 Dirksen), and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will testify in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing (10 a.m., 342 Dirksen).

The House Armed Services Committee is marking up its version of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill in subcommittees this week, leaving the full panel markup for September.

The seven subcommittee meetings are split up over Wednesday and Thursday. They will have a different perspective on lawmakers' defense priorities after the Senate Armed Services Committee advanced its bill last week.

The Senate panel endorsed a higher defense topline than Biden requested, showing that there's still a sizable number of Democratic hawks in the Senate willing to challenge the party's dovish progressive wing.

Two major policies adopted by the Senate panel could end up in the House bill as well. Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Jackie Speier, D-Calif., is the House sponsor of legislation to put special prosecutors' offices in charge of prosecution decisions for major crimes, language that was added to the Senate bill.

The Senate panel also added an amendment that would require women to register for the draft. Conservatives are expressing outrage that the provision was included.

The amendment was opposed by five Republicans, senators and aides disclosed. And two of them -- Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri -- voted against the entire bill because of their concerns about the draft issue, their aides revealed Friday.

Erin Bacon, Sandhya Raman, Mary Ellen McIntire, Peter Cohn, Chris Marquette, Lauren Clason and John M. Donnelly contributed to this report.