Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
January 31, 2023

The House convened at 10:00 A.M. and will meet for legislative business at 12:00 P.M.  The House is expected to consider H.R. 497  – Freedom for Health Care Workers Act which would end the federal COVID-19 vaccination requirement for staff members working at health care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid and also H.R. 382  – Pandemic is Over Act that would end the U.S. COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Senate convened at 10 A.M. and will recess from 12:30 P.M. to 2:15 P.M. for the GOP caucus meeting.  Democrats will have their caucus meeting on Wednesday.  No roll call votes are expected today.  The Senate remains at somewhat of a standstill as Republicans have not yet finalized their committee assignments.  Senate Democrats locked in their committee rosters last week and the Senate is expected to approve resolutions organizing committees as early as Wednesday and Republicans are expected to vote to finalize ranking members this week.

As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) prepares to meet tomorrow with President Joe Biden on the debt ceiling, nearly half of the Senate Republican Conference has signed on to a letter to President Biden warning they will not vote for any bill to raise the nation’s debt limit unless it’s connected to spending cuts to address the nation’s $31 trillion debt.  The letter, led by conservative Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Budd (R-North Carolina), says it is the policy of the Republican conference that any increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by cuts in federal spending or “meaningful structural reform in spending.”  President Biden will ask Speaker McCarthy on Wednesday for details on what budget cuts his party is demanding in order to raise the federal debt limit and for assurances that Mr. McCarthy will not accept an economically debilitating government default, White House officials said.  The demands, outlined in a memo that the White House released on Tuesday, are an attempt by Mr. Biden to force Republicans to engage in a debate over taxes, spending and debt on terms that are more favorable to the president than to newly empowered conservatives on Capitol Hill.  Mr. Biden is seeking to force Mr. McCarthy to specify which programs he would cut — a list that most likely includes some spending that is popular with the public — and to calculate how much Republicans would add to the debt with additional tax cuts.  In the memo, Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, and Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the president would release his annual budget on March 9 and asked when Mr. McCarthy would do the same.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.