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Washington Weekly Update 10-10-23

Situational Awareness

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ouster as Speaker of the House last week has effectively left the House of Representative paralyzed in making progress on its legislative agenda. Instead of voting to advance several appropriations bills ahead of a mid-November deadline, lawmakers will be focused on trying to fill the Speaker’s chair. On Tuesday, the House GOP Conference will hold a speaker candidate forum where frontrunners Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will pitch their leadership agendas to Republican lawmakers. The following day, House Republicans will hold an intra-Conference vote on a speaker candidate. It is unclear when a GOP candidate will receive a floor vote, but whoever is selected will face off with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who is set to be nominated by the House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday evening. 

While the House is in disarray, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is leading a bipartisan delegation of senators to China, South Korea and Japan with the goal to build on the Biden administration’s recent defense and economic negotiations with leaders from the three countries. The senators’ trip to China is of particular interest to lawmakers in both chambers as they continue to draft new legislation that would limit the flow of advanced technology and private investment funds to Beijing. 

The Congressional Review Act Lives On

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that threw out a lawsuit against the Congressional Review Act (CRA) filed by the Citizens for Constitutional Integrity and Southwest Advocates Inc. Passed in 1996, the CRA permits Congress to overturn certain federal agency actions. Most recently, Congress passed a resolution that would revoke a proposed rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when investing in retirement accounts. President Biden vetoed the measure. 

WOTUS Rider in House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill

Last week, the House passed the rule for H.R. 4394, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024. This means the House can bring the bill to the floor for debate, which precedes a formal vote. The legislation as passed by the Rules Committee includes language that would block the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers from implementing their updated WOTUS rule. In the spring, and prior to the Supreme Court ruling on Sackett v. EPA, Congress passed a joint resolution to overturn the WOTUS. The resolution was vetoed by President Biden.