What to Know in Washington: Pelosi Makes Next Move on Biden Plan

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), relegated to the sidelines in the stalled Senate debate over a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, soon must decide whether the House should draft its own tax and spending plan.

Frustrations are mounting on both sides of the Capitol over the Senate’s inability to get firm commitments from the 50 members of its Democratic caucus to back the plan, which pays for the bulk of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday took a procedural step intended to push along negotiations on a related $579 billion infrastructure package. Schumer said he hopes to make progress this week on the budget proposal, but moderates in his caucus are unwilling to back that until the bipartisan infrastructure bill is agreed upon.

With the August recess quickly approaching, multiple segments of the fractious House Democratic Caucus are weighing whether their chamber should take a go-first approach. Pelosi will huddle today with her fellow Democrats for the first time since Senate Budget Committee Democrats last week announced their broad budget framework. The closed-door meeting might clarify the extent of any differences within her own ranks and the direction to take.

For Pelosi and her lieutenants, who must manage competing demands from progressives who want larger spending and moderates who want smaller tax increases, pushing through a budget resolution will be a massive undertaking that would be made easier by Senate agreement. Read more from Billy House and Erik Wasson.

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg
Pelosi speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 1.

Schumer Sets Deadline: Schumer yesterday cemented plans for a cliff-hanger vote tomorrow on whether to begin debate on a $579 billion infrastructure plan that does not yet exist. The move comes after negotiators failed through the weekend to reach a compromise on the bipartisan measure. Schumer’s procedural maneuver puts pressure on the bipartisan group of 22 senators negotiating the package, but it also risks upending momentum behind a deal and handing him an embarrassing defeat.

Republicans have insisted a deal probably can’t be reached by tomorrow and a number have said they won’t support starting debate without legislation in hand. “We need to see the bill before voting to go to it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “I think that’s pretty easily understood.”

Schumer said last night if there is a deal by the bipartisan group by Thursday, he will make that agreement the pending substitute for the legislation, Nancy Ognanovich reports. If not, he said he’d prepare an amendment consisting of legislation already approved by Senate committees. Measures would include the Environment and Public Works’ water infrastructure and highway bills; Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s rail and safety bill; and the Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s energy infrastructure bill. Read more from Laura Litvan.

Happening on the Hill

Today’s Agenda:

  • The Senate is set to vote today on House-passed legislation to revamp the Crime Victims Fund.
  • The House plans to consider legislation to boost the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to seek restitution for defrauded consumers, along with a slate of broad, bipartisan measures.
  • Click here for a complete list of today’s hearings and markups.

Five Republicans Tapped for Jan. 6 Panel: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has picked five Republicans he wants Pelosi to approve for places on a new committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy wants Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.) to serve as the ranking member of the panel, while others include Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Kelly Armstrong (N.D.), and Troy Nehls (Texas). The committee is holding its first public hearing July 27. Read more from Billy House.

House Passes Energy Cyber Measures: The Energy Department’s cybersecurity oversight would be strengthened and the electric industry’s defenses bolstered under two bipartisan measures House lawmakers passed by voice vote yesterday. The House is also set to consider a third cybersecurity measure today targeting the bulk power system. A spate of devastating recent cyberattacks—including on Colonial Pipeline —has increased lawmaker urgency about protecting critical U.S. energy infrastructure. While the three bills don’t target pipelines, the legislation aims to make energy security core to the Energy Department’s responsibilities and mitigate cybersecurity risks for electric utilities. Read more from Rebecca Kern.

Senators Seek to Reassert Congressional War Powers: Three senators are proposing legislation to re-assert congressional authority over the power to make war, including sending troops into combat, selling lethal weapons to other countries and declaring national emergencies. It would be the most sweeping overhaul of Congress’s authority over military matters since passage of the War Powers Resolution in 1973 as a check on the executive branch over the protestations of then-President Richard Nixon. Read more from Daniel Flatley.

Democrat Proposes Cap on Trump-Era Business Deduction: Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has drafted legislation that would revamp a major part of the 2017 tax overhaul that Republicans billed as a boon to small businesses, and Democrats have criticized as benefiting wealthy business owners. The bill would expand eligibility to types of businesses not currently eligible for the “pass-through” deduction created by the 2017 law, like lawyers, accountants, or doctors making above certain income thresholds. The proposal enters the conversation around the broader infrastructure and social spending economic agenda that Democrats hope to advance this year. Read more from Colin Wilhelm.

Cunningham Confirmed as First Black Federal Circuit Judge: The Senate confirmed Tiffany P. Cunningham to the Federal Circuit, the nation’s top patent court. Cunningham will be the first Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the only federal appeals court never to have a Black member. Her addition to the 12-member court leaves its membership equally divided between men and women. Read more from Perry Cooper.

BGOV PODCAST — Vote Mama Founder Helps Elect Working Parents: Liuba Grechen Shirley, founder and CEO of the Vote Mama Foundation and its affiliated political action committee, joined Bloomberg Government’s Kyle Trygstad and Greg Giroux on the latest episode of Downballot Counts to discuss her efforts to make it easier to run for office as a working mother. Listen to the latest episode of Downballot Counts.

Around the Administration

Today’s Agenda: Biden will host the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House at 11:15 a.m. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will hold a meeting with the Cabinet at 3:15 p.m. to mark six months in office.

Biden Picks Ex-Senate Aide for Bank Policy Job: Biden picked Capitol Hill veteran Graham Steele for a key Treasury Department post that helps coordinate legislation and regulations affecting the financial sector. The White House announced Biden’s intent to nominate Steele as assistant secretary for financial institutions, setting him up as the administration’s point person on policies for Wall Street banks and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Read more from Jesse Hamilton.

Biden Faces Narrow Path to Aid Dreamers Without Congress, Courts: The Biden administration has little room to maneuver on protections for young immigrants after a federal judge determined a key program was unlawful. Government officials must address both procedural questions and core legal issues in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas remanded it to the Department of Homeland Security for “further consideration” on Friday. Read more from Ellen M. Gilmer.

Trump’s Legal Losses Threaten Biden Climate Goals: Legal arguments that curbed several of the Trump administration’s most far-reaching executive actions could be used to slow Biden’s most ambitious climate and environment plans, especially if Congress is unable to act.

Last month, Louisiana district court Judge Terry A. Doughty cited several Trump-era cases as rationale for striking down Biden’s temporary pause on oil and gas leases on federal lands—a sweeping executive order that was part of Biden’s plans to chip away at climate change impacts. Doughty’s analysis was riddled with case law from litigation over former President Donald Trump’s executive orders and declarations, including fights over emergency border wall funding and construction. The opinion was also underpinned by a number of other Trump-era losses, including those involving agencies, which made up the bulk of legal challenges against his presidency. Read more from Jennifer Hijazi.

Facebook’s Biden Defense Lacks Key Data on Spread of Covid Lies: When Biden said Friday that social networks like Facebook are “killing people” with the viral spread of Covid-19 misinformation, the company tried to defend itself. In a strongly-worded blog post, an executive attempted to redirect people to more positive data, on the ways Facebook has spread good information. But that didn’t address the critique. While it’s impossible to say whether misinformation on Facebook is actually “killing people,” the problem Biden was flagging is real: Covid-19 misinformation is a big issue on Facebook, and one that hasn’t been fixed. Only Facebook knows how big. Read more from Kurt Wagner.

  • Defeating Covid-19 in the U.S. is now mired in a partisan information war, a fight that Biden and Democrats in Congress are ill-equipped to win. Read more from Anna Edgerton.

California Community Colleges Chief Joins White House: California Community Colleges Chief Joins Education Department Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, will join the White House in a temporary role as a special advisor to Secretary Miguel Cardona, the Education Department said. Oakley will work on policies affecting community colleges, including infrastructure, affordability, and workforce outcomes, the agency said, Andrew Kreighbaum reports.

U.S. Seeks Fines for Hospitals Hiding Prices: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed increasing penalties for hospitals that refuse to comply with a mandate to disclose their costs for certain services. The maximum penalty for a full year of noncompliance could reach $2 million per hospital, CMS said. CMS said consumers have reported that hospitals aren’t complying with rule to make pricing available online, Fawn Johnson reports.

With assistance from Brandon Lee and Andrew Kreighbaum

To contact the reporter on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at zsherwood@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com; Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com

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