Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 4, 2021

House Republicans voted 145-61 Wednesday night to keep Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) in her role as the number three Republican leader in the chamber, fighting back an effort from those who were unhappy with her impeachment vote and criticism of former President Donald Trump.  At the same time, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a belligerent conspiracy theorist got a pass from colleagues including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) who refused to remove her from the Education & Labor and Budget Committees.  However, the Democratic led House Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a rule paving the way for a Thursday floor debate and vote on whether to force Greene off both committees. The measure, H. Res. 72, was introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, (D-Florida), and only required a simple majority to be adopted.  The House convened at 12 noon and is expected to spend the afternoon considering and voting on the Rule and the Resolution to remove Congresswoman Greene from both committees.  In addition, a resolution by Rep. Jimmy Gomez, (D-California), to expel Greene from the House for her conduct has almost 80 co-sponsors and will be introduced this week.

The Senate convened at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the budget resolution to lay the groundwork for the Biden Administration’s COVID relief legislation.  Report; Section by Section; Text.  Senate Republicans began arming themselves with a slew of amendments Wednesday to slow down work on the budget resolution that Democrats need to produce the filibuster-free pandemic relief package.  Laying the groundwork for a prolonged “vote-a-rama” on the Senate floor today, Republicans filed almost 500 amendments by this morning as they protested a Democratic decision to use the budget reconciliation process to skirt GOP opposition.  Most of the amendments that end up being filed won’t even be considered on the floor during the vote-a-rama, which Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, (I-Vermont), said he expected to start around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.  Republicans are already laying potential political traps as they try to get Democrats to go on the record on controversial issues. With the GOP back in the minority, their ability to force votes is very limited, making this week’s free-for-all a rare political opportunity over at least the next two years.  Some of the messaging amendments Republicans filed include whether illegal immigrants should receive stimulus checks; whether Democrats should raise taxes on small businesses in the midst of the pandemic; and whether federal funding should pour into school districts where the unions refuse to let school open.  The House adopted its own, almost identical version Wednesday on a 218-212 vote.  For procedural reasons, the chamber would need to vote again on the Senate adopted-version, assuming that occurs after that chamber’s vote-a-rama wraps up.

The Senate is also expected to continue work on the following nominations today:

10 a.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a full committee markup to vote on the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be U.S. representative to the UN.

10 a.m.: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will have a full committee hearing on the nomination of Marty Walsh to be Labor secretary.

2 p.m.: The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will have a full committee markup to vote on the nominations of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to be HUD secretary and Cecilia Rouse to lead the Council of Economic Advisers.

In a 2 PM visit to the State Department, President Joe Biden will freeze former President Donald Trump’s planned withdrawal of some U.S. troops stationed in Germany, the White House said Thursday.  The announcement, from White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, came ahead of Biden’s visit to the State Department. The White House also said the U.S. would end support for Saudi Arabia’s military in the long-running war in Yemen in hopes of stopping one of world’s worst humanitarian crises.  During Thursday’s visit, Biden plans to announce that he will increase the cap on the number of refugees allowed into the United States to more than eight times the level at which President Trump’s administration left it.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.