Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 15, 2021

The House met at 12 p.m. for legislative business and will resume consideration of H.R. 7 – Paycheck Fairness Act.  Breathing new life into legislation that died in the McConnell led Senate under the Trump administration, Democrats on Tuesday advanced the bill they say would close lingering loopholes in federal equal pay laws on the books for nearly 60 years.  President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday that the legislation’s passage is “essential to advancing American values of fairness and equity.”  The House will also resume consideration of 11 bills under suspension on the Rules.

The Senate convened at 10 a.m. and resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S.937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.  The Senate is also expected to move to discharge the nomination of Vanita Gupta from the Judiciary Committee. There will then be up to 4 hours of debate on the motion to discharge followed by a vote on the motion.

At 10:30 a.m. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious diseases expert, and other public health officials were slated to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s coronavirus subcommittee. Fauci will be joined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and White House Chief Science Officer David Kessler to discuss the pandemic.  Also, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will testify before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the FY fiscal 2022 HHS budget request. Various committees with jurisdiction across several sectors will hold COVID-19 related hearings this week and VA Secretary Denis McDonough, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will also testify before House Appropriations subcommittees.

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus will meet with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris this afternoon and the group will ask the president “to use Department of Justice resources” to ensure there is sufficient ability to investigate the recent shootings at three Georgia Asian spas as a hate crime.  Attendees will also discuss disaggregation, immigration and a diverse school curriculum.  The Senate yesterday held a rare bipartisan vote to advance legislation aimed at improving anti-Asian hate crime tracking.

Finally, the Biden administration issued a wide range of sanctions against Russia on Thursday in retaliation for recent incursions including the SolarWinds cyber espionage campaign and Moscow’s interference in the 2020 presidential election.  The sanctions target more than 30 Russian entities and include the expulsion of at least 10 Russian individuals from the U.S., including intelligence officials and Washington diplomats. The administration also issued an executive order barring U.S. financial institutions from purchasing ruble-denominated bonds beginning in June of 2021, according to a White House fact sheet.  Administration officials have vowed for weeks to exact costs from Moscow. In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, President Biden said the U.S. would “act firmly” in defense of its national interests while proposing a summit with the Russian leader to discuss a “full range of issues.”

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.