Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 18, 2023

Both the Senate and House are back in session today after the Easter and Passover recess.  The Senate convened at 10:00 A.M. and is expected to consider Radha Iyengar Plumb to be a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and Amy Lefkowitz Solomon to be an Assistant Attorney General.  The Senate may also take up the Motion to invoke cloture on S.870, Fire Grants and Safety Act.

The House convened at 10:00 A.M. and is considering the Veto Message to Accompany H.J. Res 27 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States.”  However, Republican leaders in Congress face an uphill struggle against the Biden administration’s “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulation.  It would be the second time the House has voted on Republican-sponsored H.J.Res.27, which would end the current WOTUS rule.  President Joe Biden vetoed the so-called resolution of disagreement on April 6th and a two-thirds majority is needed in the House and Senate to overcome a veto.  Republicans want to overturn protections for the nation’s waterways that they have criticized as overly intrusive and have targeted an Environmental Protection Agency rule protecting thousands of small streams, wetlands, and other waterways, labeling it an environmental overreach that harms businesses, developers and farmers.

As the clock continues to run on the debt ceiling, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) announced Monday in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange that House Republicans will vote on their own debt ceiling bill to empower the United States to meet its obligations until 2024.  Speaker McCarthy proposed a one-year debt ceiling increase paired with a set of spending cuts and policy changes, backing down substantially from earlier demands but making clear that Republicans would not raise the borrowing limit to avert a catastrophic debt default without conditions.  McCarthy offered few specifics, saying the coming legislation would cut federal spending to 2022 levels and cap annual growth at 1% over the next decade. He criticized President Biden for refusing to negotiate policy conditions to extend the debt limit, a position most Democrats support.  House Republicans are insisting that any increase in the debt limit must be paired with spending cuts, while the White House argues that the limit should be raised without any conditions. McCarthy wants to move a debt limit bill through the House as a way to put pressure on the White House to come to the table for negotiation, even if the bill won’t pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.  McCarthy held a closed-door meeting with his members today and walked the Conference through his proposal, which includes clawing back unspent COVID-19 funds, 10-year caps on spending, prohibiting President Biden’s student loan forgiveness and enacting a GOP energy bill.  While President Biden has insisted on a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling and Democrats have insisted that talks over government spending should be separate from debt limit talks, the Speaker said on Monday that “a no-strings attached debt-limit increase will not pass.”  Ahead of McCarthy’s speech, the White House sent a memo to congressional Democrats, as well as other allies, providing statements from economists, national security experts, and business leaders who have supported raising the debt ceiling without conditions as is tradition.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.