Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
March 17, 2021

The Senate will resume consideration of Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee to be United States Trade Representative. The upper chamber is expected to also advance Xavier Becerra to be Health and Human Services secretary, while the Senate Help, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will vote on the nomination of Rachel Levine to be an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Levine, if confirmed, would become the first openly transgender official confirmed by the Senate to a federal role.  The HELP Committee will also consider the Nomination of Vivek Murthy to serve as Surgeon General of the Public Health Service.  On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed 81-17, Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration, putting her in charge of implementing much of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act and overseeing the Paycheck Protection Program, the over $687 billion loan initiative, and other small business assistance programs.

For today, the House will work on H.J.Res. 17 – Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment and H.R. 1620 – Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021.  The Rule makes in order 41 amendments and allows for amendments to be offered en bloc.  A full list of amendments can be found here.  The House will also consider three bills under suspension of the Rules.  Hearings of note today include: the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a virtual hearing on COVID-19 vaccines, where Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, among others, will testify.  The House Financial Services Committee will also have a virtual hearing on GameStop stock trading. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Equality Act.  As of now, the House is due to vote Thursday on two immigration bills that would provide a path to citizenship for millions living illegally in the United States, just as the country faces the biggest surge of migrants at its southwestern border in 20 years.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told reporters the House would take up the two immigration bills Thursday after the two measures cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday paving the way for their consideration.  Hoyer pledged the House would eventually pass a more far-reaching immigration reform plan.  Biden’s sweeping proposal, introduced last month, would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. But it faces long odds. The Senate’s number two Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), said Monday that it doesn’t have the necessary support in either the House or Senate.

Today, the President hosts H.E. Micheál Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland, for a virtual bilateral meeting- the Irish Taioseach, or prime minister, typically has had a standing invitation to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. The event was moved to a virtual format after the coronavirus pandemic halted much international travel and changed the way people gather for celebrations and holidays.  There will still be a traditional Shamrock Bowl ceremony and the Irish government has sent a “beautiful engraved bowl” and shamrocks to the White House.  “This year, as Ireland takes a seat on the United Nations Security Council, we will redouble our joint work on peacekeeping, conflict resolution, accountability mechanisms, and women’s rights. Ireland and the United States will also work together to strengthen the United States-European Union partnership,” according to the White House.  The president and vice president are both expected to affirm their support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Northern Ireland conflict.  Fact Sheet: The United States-Ireland Partnership.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.