Weekly Legislative Update
March 29, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House and Senate are both in recess for the next two weeks and will return to Washington during the week of April 12. When the Senate returns, the chamber will consider the following Biden Administration nominees: Polly Trottenberg to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation; Wendy Sherman to be Deputy Secretary of State; Gary Gensler to be Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Brenda Mallory to be Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The Senate will also consider the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937), which provides the Department of Justice and local law enforcement more tools to combat hate crimes, especially in the Asian-American community.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter on March 25 to the 49 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus outlining his long to-do list for the Senate after the spring recess, with three major areas of focus including “voting rights and civil rights, economic recovery and jobs with an emphasis on climate change and building back better, and health and gun safety.” In addition to voting to confirm the nominees for Deputy Attorney General and Associate Attorney General, several Senate committees will consider the For the People Act (S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Regarding economic recovery, “In the coming weeks and months, the Senate will consider legislation to rebuild our infrastructure and fight climate change, boost R&D and domestic manufacturing, reform our broken immigration system, and grow the power of American workers [and] will consider reforms to improve the United States Postal Service, a critical lifeline for our small businesses and workers, and begin hearings on a bipartisan workforce development and apprenticeship bill.” The Senate will also begin to utilize the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify several final rules issued by the Trump Administration between August 21, 2020 and January 20, 2021, including “a new burdensome and dilatory Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rule that give employers an unfair advantage over workers when settling discriminatory claims [and] President Trump’s roll-back of limitations on methane emissions from oil and gas, which will be an important step to combat climate change.” The Senate will also likely take votes on several gun safety-related measures.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will make a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he’ll unveil the details of his infrastructure proposal, the centerpiece of his “Build Back Better” agenda, as well as how to pay for it. The package President Biden will lay out will focus on domestic manufacturing, research and development, transportation, and water infrastructure. Biden will follow this speech with another announcement in April regarding a second package focused on spending for social-safety-net programs, addressing healthcare, childcare, universal prekindergarten, free community college, and other issues. Both proposals combined will likely total around $3 trillion. On Thursday, the Biden Administration will also release the President’s fiscal year 2022 “skinny” budget proposal to Congress, kicking off the multi-month process of putting together a roughly $1.4 trillion federal spending plan. This blueprint document is expected to call for a major increase in domestic spending starting next fiscal year, particularly targeting federal agencies that tackle education, climate change, housing insecurity and other longtime Democratic priorities, according to the party’s top congressional aides. The full FY2022 budget proposal will likely be released by the Biden Administration sometime in May.
Week in Review