Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 14, 2021

The House met at 10 a.m. for morning hour debate and at 12 p.m. for legislative business.  The House will consider seventeen bills under suspension of the Rules including S. 578 – FASTER Act of 2021, as well as the Rule for H.R. 7 – Paycheck Fairness Act and H.R. 1195 – Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would help ensure equal pay for equal work for all Americans, regardless of gender or color and would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has failed to deliver on its promise to close the wage gap due to limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies.  The law would introduce fundamental changes, such as requiring employers to prove that wage differences are based on factors other than sex.  It would also prohibit reprisals against workers who inquire about their employers’ pay practices or disclose their own wages.

At 10 a.m. the House Judiciary Committee began marking up H.R. 40, which seeks to develop a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans and the Oversight Committee will mark up a D.C. statehood bill- H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, To provide for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.

The Senate convened at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Gary Gensler to be Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission with the confirmation vote expected this afternoon.  The Senate is then expected to consider the nomination of Brenda Mallory to be a Member of the Council on Environmental Quality.  The Senate also plans to take up S.937, a bill to facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes.  The legislation was introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-New York) and addresses the rising number of hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans.  Meng and Hirono’s COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would instruct the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of COVID-related hate crimes, expand public reporting efforts, and provide guidance on how to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state level, including ensuring online reporting processes are available in multiple languages.

This afternoon, President Biden will announce that he will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war.  The decision will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1st exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.  While the Taliban has promised to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline — and said in a statement it would not continue to participate in “any conference” about Afghanistan’s future until all “foreign forces” have departed — it is not clear whether the militants will follow through with the earlier threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September. The Taliban has conducted sputtering talks with the Afghan government, begun under the Trump deal, since last fall. It was also invited to an additional high-level inter-Afghan discussion in Turkey later this month.  Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. options in Afghanistan, where U.S. led peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,500 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

After his speech, Biden intends to visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery to honor the sacrifice of those who died in recent American conflicts.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.