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03.23.2021 Washington Update

Senate – This is the Senate’s last week in session before a two-week recess.  It will return to business on April 12th.  The major focus on the floor this week is H.R. 1799, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Extension Act, which would extend the program to May 31st. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on the motion to proceed on the bill last week. The PPP is set to expire at the end of March. The House easily passed the bill 415 to 3.  Senate Democratic leaders hope a clean version of the legislation can pass without consuming valuable floor time.

However, some Senate Republicans are seeking to amend the legislation to prohibit the Small Business Administration (SBA) from setting priorities for processing the applications of some entities over others.  If the bill cannot be passed by unanimous consent, Senate Democratic leaders may have to negotiate a potential time agreement so the Senate can leave for recess by Thursday afternoon.

President Biden’s cabinet will be complete this week with the confirmation of Marty Walsh to be Labor Secretary.  The Senate is also expected to consider the following nominations this week (in the following order):

  • Shalanda D. Young to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget;
  • Vivek Hallegere Murthy to be Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the Public Health Service and Surgeon General of the Public Health Service;
  • Rachel Leland Levine to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • David Turk to be Deputy Secretary of Energy; and
  • Adewale O. Adeyemoto to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will be testifying Tuesday and Wednesday before the House Financial Services and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committees for their quarterly COVID response hearings.

During recess, considerable work will continue on the development of a potential bipartisan legislative package to strengthen  U.S. competitiveness against China.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced a markup on April 14th of his committee’s portion of the bill.  Other committees may also convene markups around that time with the goal of having a consolidated package on the Senate floor in the second half of April.

Senators have been introducing several bipartisan bills aimed at curbing China’s economic influence including:

  • The Endless Frontiers Act (Schumer, Young)
  • The STRATEGIC Act (Risch, Romney, Young, Sullivan, Rounds, Wicker, Rubio, Hagerty, and Portman)
  • The LEADS Act (Menendez, Durbin, Wyden, Brown, Murray, Reed, Warner, Klobuchar, Van Hollen, Shaheen)
  • Innovation Centers Acceleration Act (Coons, Durbin)
  • National Manufacturing Guard Act (Coons, Rubio, Hassan, Cornyn)
  • Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (Rubio, Merkley)