Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 26, 2023

The House Rules Committee voted after 2 A.M. this morning to send the Limit, Save, Grow Act to the floor for a vote after hours of haggling over the details and concerns. With a razor-thin majority, the Republican leadership has four votes to spare if hoping to pass the legislation, which is seen as more of a starting point for bartering with the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Biden administration.  House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) scrambled behind the scenes to find a way to convince two different groups of holdouts to back the legislation.  To that end, Republicans agreed to allow proposed work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries to be implemented on a quicker timetable, a move intended to win over Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and others who had warned they would vote against the bill without such changes.  And top Republicans also agreed to remove a repeal of certain tax breaks for biofuels like ethanol, an issue that prompted furious opposition from four Iowa Republicans and some other midwestern lawmakers.  Overall, the package raises the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit by an additional $1.5 trillion. But the plan also states that if the new debt limit is not breached by March 31, 2024, then Congress must again increase the borrowing authority by that date, proposing to reignite a major fiscal battle in the middle of a presidential election year.  The package also proposes sizable cuts to domestic programs and spares the Pentagon’s budget, returning funding for federal agencies to 2022 levels while aiming to limit the growth in spending to 1% per year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would trim government deficits by $4.8 trillion over 10 years.  As part of the 320-page bill, the GOP also proposes to block President Biden’s plan to grant student loan forgiveness, repeal green energy tax credits and kill new Internal Revenue Service funding enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The measure would also impose new proposals to give Congress more power to halt regulations from the executive branch. The plan would also expedite new oil drilling projects while rescinding funding enacted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For today, the Senate convened at 10:00 A.M. and is considering the nomination of Joshua David Jacobs to be Under Secretary for Benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Senate is also expected to take up the Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.326, the legislative vehicle for a Veterans package which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the effects of cannabis on veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Senate may also take up the Motion to proceed to S.J.Res.11, providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to “Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards” which is a resolution aimed at overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent emission mandate for heavy-duty trucks.  The EPA’s final rule was announced by the agency in December and took effect on March 27th. The rule will impose strict clean air standards for heavy-duty trucks beginning with model year 2027.

The House convened at 12:00 P.M. for legislative business and is expected to consider H. Con. Res. 30 – Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove all United States Armed Forces, other than United States Armed Forces assigned to protect the United States Embassy, from Somalia as well as H.R. 1353 – Advanced, Local Emergency Response Telecommunications Parity Act, as amended.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.