Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 13, 2021

The House will reconvene from Easter recess at 7 p.m., with first votes expected at 7:15 p.m.  For today, the House will only consider one bill under suspension of the rules, the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1868 – An Act to prevent across-the-board direct spending cuts which provides for an extension of the temporary suspension of Medicare sequestration.

The Senate convenes at 12 p.m., when it will resume consideration of the nomination of Polly Trottenberg to serve as deputy secretary of Transportation with a confirmation vote expected at 2:15pm.  The Senate is then expected to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Wendy Sherman to be Deputy Secretary of State.

At 10 a.m. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig will testify before the Finance Committee to discuss the “Filing Season and 21st Century IRS.”

President Joe Biden and congressional leaders will attend this morning’s 11 a.m. ceremony to honor William “Billy” Evans, the USCP officer who was killed in the car attack at the Capitol earlier this month.  Later today, Vice President Kamala Harris will also pay her respects to Evans, who will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda throughout the day.

At 2 p.m. President Biden and Vice President Harris will meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office as part of continuing outreach to key constituencies in Congress. The White House said topics will include voting rights and racial equality.

As the White House and Democratic Congressional leadership push ahead on the infrastructure bill, President Biden met Monday afternoon with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and tried to assure them that the Oval Office gathering was not “window dressing.” One of the core disputes is over what counts as infrastructure in his $2.3 trillion proposal.  The meeting came as Biden’s team is making a direct argument for lawmakers to put their constituents ahead of their ideologies. The White House released state-by-state breakdowns Monday that show the dire shape of roads, bridges, the power grid and housing affordability, among other issues. An appeal to the broader public is unlikely to resonate much with Republican lawmakers who have already blasted the plan. The figures in the state summaries paint a decidedly bleak outlook for the world’s largest economy after years of repairs being deferred and delayed. They suggest that too much infrastructure is unsafe for vehicles at any speed, while highlighting the costs of extreme weather events that have become more frequent with climate change as well as dead spots for broadband and a dearth of child care options. Republican lawmakers have been very quick to reject the infrastructure proposal from Biden. They say just a fraction of the spending goes to traditional infrastructure, as $400 billion would expand Medicaid support for caregivers and substantial portions would fund electric vehicle charging stations and address the racial injustice of highways that were built in ways that destroyed Black neighborhoods.  The reports give some data to back up their argument that more money should be spent on roads and bridges. Biden’s plan would modernize 20,000 miles worth of roadways, but California by itself has 14,220 miles of highway in poor condition.  Republican lawmakers also object to funding the package by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and increasing the global minimum tax, among other tax changes including stepped-up IRS enforcement being proposed by the Biden administration.

Finally, President Biden on Monday nominated Anne Milgram, a former New Jersey attorney general, to direct the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Justice Department’s lead agency for investigating drug trafficking and manufacturing.  The D.E.A. has not had a politically appointed leader since the Obama administration.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.