Weekly Legislative Update
February 8, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House is in recess this week (however, House committees will be meeting virtually to hold hearings and conduct legislative business) while the Senate is in session. Nine separate House committees are holding markups between Tuesday and Friday on their respective portions of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal authorized by the House and Senate-passed fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 5). The resolution serves as an outline for President Joe Biden’s COVID relief plan first unveiled on January 14, the American Rescue Plan, and provides reconciliation instructions that would allow the Senate to pass the final bill with a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60 votes typically needed to advance legislation in the upper chamber.
Notably, the House Financial Services Committee will meet on Wednesday to markup the section of the proposal which calls for $25 billion in additional emergency rental and utility assistance to be allocated to state and local governments with populations greater than 200,000; the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will meet on Wednesday to consider $50 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, $30 billion for public transit, $8 billion for airports, and $3 billion for EDA grants; and the House Oversight and Reform Committee will meet on Friday to consider $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments. The goal for Democratic leaders is to have the full reconciliation package on the House floor for consideration by the week of February 22, followed by Senate consideration during the weeks of March 1 and 8, and enactment into law by March 14, when $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits are set to lapse.

On Monday, the Senate will vote to confirm former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to be the 11th U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Budget Committees will hold confirmation hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, for Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, to serve as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will vote to advance the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, while the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on Thursday to advance the nominations of Miguel Cardona and Marty Walsh to serve as Secretary of Education and Secretary of Labor, respectively.

On Tuesday at 1pm ET, the Senate will begin the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, nearly five weeks after the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. Trump’s first impeachment trial in early 2020 lasted 21 days, however, this second trial is expected to be considerably shorter, as both sides coalesce behind not trying to call witnesses and potentially moving to a final vote within a matter of days, as early as February 14 or 15. The Senate on Tuesday will begin with up to four hours of debate on the issue of the constitutionality of the trial; 16 hours per side for presentations beginning at noon on Wednesday; and a debate and vote on calling witnesses, if the nine House managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), request it.
Week in Review