Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
March 18, 2021

The Senate reconvened at 10:00 a.m. and after considering the nomination of  Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Senate narrowly confirmed him by a 50-49 vote.  Republicans were nearly unanimous in their opposition to Becerra, the current attorney general of California and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote in favor of his confirmation.  The Senate will now consider the nomination of Marty Walsh to be Secretary of Labor. At 1:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Walsh nomination.  At 10 a.m. the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up two bills, including S. 632, which concerns the collection of demographic information for patent inventors, and considered the nominations of Lisa Monaco to be deputy attorney general and Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general.

The House met at noon and will consider H.R. 6 – The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 and H.R. 1603 – The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021.  The House is set to vote today on these two proposals that would legalize subsets of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission, as Democrats gauge the chances of approving immigration legislation and sending it to President Biden’s desk.  The bills are expected to pass in the Democratic-controlled House and would, if enacted, place millions of undocumented immigrants on different pathways to U.S. citizenship, including farmworkers and those who arrived in the country as children.  The votes come as the administration scrambles to confront the enormous logistical challenges of processing and housing the soaring number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border.  If signed into law, the American Dream and Promise Act would allow more than 2.3 million “Dreamers,” or unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, as well as beneficiaries of certain temporary humanitarian programs, to gain permanent legal status.  “This is a very special day for us,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said ahead of the vote. “We are making a very big difference in how we respect the beautiful diversity of America, how we respect the fact that immigration is the constant reinvigoration of America.”

President Joe Biden is poised to hit a top goal he set for his first 100 days in the White House — 100 million vaccine shots in the arms of Americans — as early as today.  Before he was inaugurated, Biden underscored the importance of ramping up the pace of vaccinations in the US. In early December, he unveiled a three-part plan to crush COVID-19 in his first 100 days — including completing 100 million vaccine shots.  Biden’s 100th day in office will be April 30, which means he’s set to hit this goal over a month ahead of schedule.  Biden is expected to make a statement on reaching this goal this afternoon.  As of Thursday, there have been over 113 million COVID-19 vaccines administered in the US, per data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination began when former President Donald Trump was still in office, but the rollout was messy, disorganized and the US got off to a sluggish start.  Also of note, the Treasury Department and the IRS said Wednesday that they’ve disbursed about 90 million stimulus payments authorized by the new coronavirus relief law. The payments that have been issued have a value of more than $242 billion, Treasury said. The coronavirus bill provides for direct payments for most Americans of up to $1,400 per person.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.