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NCA’s Washington Weekly Update 6-21-21

Situational Awareness
The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider resolutions overturning three rules promulgated under President Trump. The Senate will continue processing nominations and attempt to advance a voting rights measure.

Infrastructure Deal Possible
A group of 21 senators, 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, have signed onto a plan to provide $979 billion in infrastructure spending, potentially paving the way for a bipartisan agreement on legislation to invest in roads, bridges, waterways and broadband. The package would include roughly $579 billion in new money, but one of the funding mechanisms used to pay for the package, indexing the federal gas tax to inflation, may create a speed-bump in the way of passage. The Biden Administration has taken the position that such an increase would be an additional tax on the middle-class, which violates a campaign promise Biden made last year. In addition to the funding issue, progressive Democrats are concerned a deal would scuttle chances to enact their priorities around climate change, health care, paid leave and child care subsidies.

OSHA General Duty Citations Increase Under Biden Administration
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has increased the number of citations against employers under the general duty clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to provide a workplace free of hazards. While many of the recent citations were for inspections initiated under the Trump Administration, there has been an uptick in citations in the first five months of the Biden Administration. OSHA’s national emphasis program for COVID-19, which began on March 12, is likely to result in increased inspections and potential citations.

House Appropriators Begin Funding Process
On Friday, House Democrats introduced a resolution to establish the overall target for discretionary spending at $1.5 trillion, which is in line with the proposed budget released by the Biden Administration earlier this year. The Biden budget allocated $769.6 billion for nondefense spending and $752.9 billion for defense. By setting the overall spending target it allows House appropriators to begin the process of crafting bills to fund federal agencies under their jurisdiction. House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) anticipates a full budget resolution will allow for reconciliation instructions that would allow Congress to consider an infrastructure package and an economic proposal, which are priorities of the Biden administration.

Rep. Chris Jacobs Talks Staffing Issues on NCA Webcast
Last week, I had the pleasure to moderate a NCA webcast on staffing issues, including Help Wanted Act sponsor Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) to talk about his bill, what Congress is doing to help get people back to work and an inside look at the staffing challenges happening right now. You can listen to the webinar here.