Congress is in session this week. As the August recess looms, many legislative items are left to address.
After last week’s bipartisan agreement on a “framework” for a gun-control package, many expect legislative language to be released later today. The legislation will feature the most significant changes to federal gun laws since the assault weapons ban enacted in 1994. The package would aid states in setting up their own “red flag” laws, provide billions in funding for mental health and school safety resources, close the “boyfriend loophole,” add limits to illegal weapons trafficking, enhance background checks for buyers under 21, increase scrutiny on gun sellers evading licensing requirements, and other measures. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the lead negotiators of the package, told Politico this afternoon of a deal on new gun-safety legislation, with text coming very shortly. If the Senate passes the legislation this week, the House could stay in session into the weekend or return next week to pass the bill and send it to the President for his signature.
The top leaders from the House and Senate (Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)) are meeting today regarding the conference status of the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USCIA) of 2021 (S. 1260) and the House-passed America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). Both chambers hope to scale down the overall package and strike a deal by the Fourth of July recess. Significant portions of the bill center around climate, labor, and trade need compromise.
President Biden is considering both a federal gas tax holiday and gas rebate cards as a solution to high gas prices for Americans. “I hope I have a decision, based on data I’m looking for, by the end of the week,” said President Biden in Delaware on Monday. The White House would not take any executive action, and Congressional action would be required. Many within the Democratic Party are against a federal gas tax holiday, and Speaker Pelosi is on record stating she does not believe the intended benefits will reach consumers. Other skeptics are uncomfortable taking funds away from infrastructure projects if a pause of federal gas taxes were to take place. Currently, the nationwide average for gas is just over $5 per gallon.
The House will vote on 14 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Active Shooter Alert Act of 2022 (H.R. 6538), which grants the Justice Department the ability to create an alert system to notify communities during an active shooter event. The House will also consider the Promoting United States International Leadership in 5G Act (H.R. 1934), which would establish an interagency working group to enhance U.S. leadership at international standards bodies for 5G and future generations of wireless telecommunications and infrastructure. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (H.R. 7666), which reauthorizes, through FY2027, expands, and otherwise modifies various programs, grants, and related activities that focus on mental and behavioral health; the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Health Act (H.R. 5585), which establishes, within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health to accelerate innovation in health and medicine by investing in high-risk, high-reward research projects; the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act (H.R. 4176), requiring federal agencies that collect information through surveys to assess needed changes in survey methods related to asking questions on sexual orientation and gender identity; and the Senate-passed Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2021 (HR 3967), which addresses health care matters for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service.
House appropriators will begin their first full committee markups this week of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 spending bills, covering the Agriculture-FDA, Financial Services—General Government, Defense, Homeland Security, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs measures. The Committee will also hold subcommittee markups for the Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, State and Foreign Operations, and Transportation-HUD bills throughout the week. For the remainder of the week, the House and Senate will hold several committee hearings, including a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to “Examine the Toxic Substances Control Act Amendment Implementation;” a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “Strengthening Energy Infrastructure, Efficiency and Financing;” and a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to examine “The Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, Focusing on Administration perspectives.” Today, the states of Alabama and Georgia will hold primary runoff elections, while Virginia and the District of Columbia will hold their primary elections.