Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 12, 2021

The House is in a pro forma session today starting at noon and will return for votes tomorrow evening at 7:15.  The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. today with first votes expected at 5:30 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

With Congress returning to Washington after a two-week recess, President Joe Biden plans to step up efforts to negotiate changes to his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan, starting with an Oval Office meeting today with a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate.  The next several weeks will be crucial to the fate of the package, which Biden proposes paying for in part by raising corporate income taxes. At 1:45 p.m. the bi partisan group meeting will include Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), and Alex Padilla (D-California).  Attending from the House will be Representatives Garret Graves (R-Louisiana), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-New Jersey), David Price (D-North Carolina) and Don Young (R-Alaska).  The White House gathering marks a period of intense outreach on the part of the Biden administration, which deputized cabinet leaders including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg earlier this month to sell the package known as the American Jobs Plan to congressional lawmakers and local government officials nationwide.  Entering the meeting, the White House on Monday also sought to illustrate the case for infrastructure reform in all 50 states, putting out fact sheets that showed how years of under-funded projects nationwide had resulted in poor roads, bridges, water ways and broadband connections. In West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin’s home state, the White House pointed to more than 1,500 bridges and 3,200 miles of highway in “poor condition,” prompting the administration to conclude: “The need for action is clear.”

With the Senate’s return, several more senior administration officials are expected to win confirmation this week including: Wendy Sherman to be Deputy Secretary of State, Gary Gensler to be Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Brenda Mallory to be a Member of the Council on Environmental Quality.

At noon, chief executives from companies including Google parent Alphabet, AT&T, Intel and Northrop Grumman are set to participate in a White House virtual summit addressing the global semiconductor shortage.  The summit comes as the Biden administration embarks on a review of key U.S. supply chains, including those for semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, medical supplies and rare earth metals. The shortage of computer chips has implications for a range of industries, from producers of electric vehicles to medical supplies.  In addition to the President joining the meeting, National security adviser Jake Sullivan, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will join the meeting with executives from 19 companies to discuss the growing shortage of semiconductors, a key component of many computerized electronics.  President Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan would include $50 billion for a new Commerce Department office to coordinate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. Biden is expected to discuss the proposal at Monday’s meeting.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.