Weekly Legislative Update
May 17, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 26 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937), which addresses the spate of hate-crimes targeting Asian-American communities since the start of the pandemic, including by requiring the Justice Department to award grants to state and local governments to support hate crimes reporting.

For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on a resolution (H. Res. 275) “Condemning the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021, and reaffirming the House of Representative's commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community”; the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act (H.R. 1629), which closes a loophole that could be used to block pharmaceutical competition and prevents innovative treatments for opioid use disorder from coming to market; the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act (H.R. 3233), which creates a 10-person bipartisan, independent Commission to “investigate and report upon the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex [and] investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures”; and the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 3237), which provides $1.9 billion in funding to pay for bills stemming from the January 6 insurrection and enhance Capitol Hill security in the coming months.

The Senate will consider the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260), which authorizes roughly $120 billion over five years for activities at the National Science Foundation, Departments of Commerce and Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to advance priorities including to reduce undue geographic concentration of research and development (R&D) funding, encourage broader participation of populations underrepresented in STEM, and increase collaboration across federal agencies and with non-governmental partners on innovation. The bill is aimed at ramping up federal support for U.S. R&D in the aim of better competing with China.

Notable infrastructure-related hearings on Capitol Hill this week include: a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday on “Funding and Financing Options to Bolster American Infrastructure”; a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday on “Leveraging the Tax Code for Infrastructure Investment”; and a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday on “21st Century Communities: Expanding Opportunity Through Infrastructure Investments,” with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge.

Senate Republicans will give President Joe Biden a revised infrastructure offer this week after a sit-down at the White House on May 13. Biden met with a group of six Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), where they discussed two of the biggest sticking points: what qualifies as infrastructure and how to pay for it. Republicans are planning to give Biden their revised counteroffer early this week, likely by Tuesday, and did not rule out meeting again with Biden. The GOP group unveiled a proposal on April 22 that offered $568 billion for infrastructure — dramatically smaller than Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. Sen. Capito, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, did not rule out that Republicans would go higher in their next pitch that they give to the White House. The new GOP proposal is likely to remain focused on “core” infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and broadband, though Capito said Republicans needed to lock down the areas they would focus on. The GOP senators involved in the negotiations say they would be willing to cut a bipartisan deal with Biden on infrastructure even if Democrats were going to try to push through the rest of the president’s plan with a simple majority through budget reconciliation.
Week in Review