Window on Washington – July 11, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 27 | News & Events | #macos | #macsecurity


Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress. Both the House and Senate will be in session this week, after two weeks of recess. The Senate schedule for this week, however, is up in the air given that Senate Majority Leader Schumer tested positive for Covid over the weekend and will be in isolation this week.  Hence, it is not clear that much action will happen on the Senate floor given his absence, though a vote on President Biden’s ATF Director nominee could take place given that Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has signaled he will be available for votes this week while recovering from hip replacement surgery.  It is still probable that the Senate will have a classified all-senators briefing about U.S.-China competitiveness, amidst rumors and threats that the USICA-COMPETES Act conference negotiations are in danger of collapsing. The House will vote on the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, two pro-choice bills, along with several other measures. Hearings for the week include looking at the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, oversight of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, energy prices, and nuclear waste cleanup, as well as markups and nominations hearings.

Budget Reconciliation.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) continues to negotiate a rejuvenated budget reconciliation package with Senator Joe Manchin, though they won’t meet in person this week due to Senator Schumer’s Covid diagnosis.  Last week Schumer announced the two had reached a deal on prescription drug pricing reform last week. A Congressional Budget Office score released shortly thereafter of the details which are tied to bulk purchases of certain medicines under Medicare found the changes would raise almost $300 billion over a 2022-2031 period. The latest tax piece of the package would reportedly raise $200 billion by expanding a 3.8% tax on investment income on additional owners of unincorporated businesses to include individuals making more than $400,000 and couples, estates, and trusts earning more than $500,000. Neither the tax nor climate elements have been agreed to by all Senate Democrats.

FY23 Budget and Appropriations. Next week, the House will consider a “minibus” package bundling the following standalone bills into a single piece of legislation:  Agriculture; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior and the Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The House Rules Committee has a Wednesday deadline for members to file amendments to this measure.  The Senate’s consideration of FY23 appropriations remains unclear though it remains on track that the Senate Appropriations Committee’s versions of the 12 spending bills will be released later this month.

Defense Authorizations. The House is scheduled to vote on the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act this week. The House Armed Services Committee marked up the legislation in June and approved it by a vote of 57-1. More than 1,200 amendments have been submitted to the House Rules Committee, which will meet Tuesday to consider which of these will be in order for debate on the House floor. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has not yet announced when the Senate may consider its’ version of the defense bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to release the bill and report which the Committee approved last month.

Biden Administration.  President Biden will travel to the Middle East this week. On Wednesday, Biden will visit Israel, where he will meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will then travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday, where he will attend a GCC+3 Summit – the Gulf Cooperation Council, and leaders from Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. It is expected Biden will be discussing efforts to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran, as well as U.S. energy costs. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be visiting Japan today for the memorial service of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated last week.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital

CONGRESS

Health

House Oversight Opens Probe into Handling of Reproductive Health Data: A House committee has launched an investigation into how companies are handling reproductive health data. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA) sent separate letters to personal health apps and data broker companies expressing their concerns. (The Hill)

House Democrats Tee Up Votes on Abortion Rights Bills: House Democrats are planning to vote this week on a pair of bills aimed at protecting access to abortion as lawmakers try to chart a path forward in the post-Roe world. As lawmakers return to the Capitol for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the House plans to vote on legislation that will protect women who need to travel to seek an abortion if they live in a state that now bans it. (The Hill)

Banking & Housing

Rep. Hill Leads Letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Urging Oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Housing, Community Development, and Insurance Subcommittee on the House Financial Services Committee, and nine other Republican committee members, sent a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Sandra Thompson urging oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac activities. (Clark Hill Insight)

Tax Reform

Dems Want to Tax High Earners to Protect Medicare Solvency: Senate Democrats want to boost taxes on some high earners and use the money to extend the solvency of Medicare, the latest step in the party’s election-year attempt to craft a scaled-back version of the economic package that collapsed last year. It was yet another sign that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) could be edging toward a compromise the party hopes to push through Congress this summer over solid Republican opposition. Manchin scuttled last year’s bill. (AP)

Defense

Progressives Eye Longshot Bid to Protect Abortion Rights for Troops: Progressive Democrats are eyeing must-pass defense legislation as the next battleground to protect abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, a longshot move that reflects the fierce push within the party to fight for abortion access. (Politico)

Congress Poised to Shoot Down Biden’s Nuclear Rollback: Progressives were already disappointed with President Joe Biden’s plans for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Now they’re poised to lose one of the few things about the White House’s blueprint that they liked. In recent weeks, Democrats have joined Republicans in adding money back into the Pentagon budget to continue developing a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile that former President Donald Trump initiated in 2018. Biden proposed canceling the missile, which arms control advocates say is redundant, costly and potentially destabilizing. (Politico)

Homeland Security & Immigration

Democrats Pitch Immigration Issues on Must-Pass Defense Bill: House Democrats have filed a slew of immigration-related amendments to the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill, one of their last opportunities to pass new immigration policies before the midterm elections. Congress is fast approaching its scheduled August recess, followed by peak campaign season, so Democratic lawmakers only have a few more weeks in session to push their legislative priorities before they could lose control of either chamber in November. (Roll Call)

Dems Push White House to Expand Immigration Protections for Venezuelans: The Biden administration is facing increased pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill to expand and extend temporary protections for Venezuelan exiles in the United States. Officials face a deadline of today to make a decision on whether to offer Temporary Protection Status to an estimated 250,000 Venezuelans currently ineligible because they arrived in the U.S. after the March 2021 eligibility date. (Politico)

Judiciary/Justice

Senate Democrats Face New Pressure to Pass Assault Weapons Ban: Democrats in Congress are under new pressure to advance an assault weapons ban after a 21-year-old gunman killed seven people at a July 4 parade in Highland Park. The Senate just approved a bipartisan gun-safety bill last month that was signed into law by President Biden, but even at the time it was seen as an effort insufficient to truly cut into gun violence. (The Hill)

Cyber

Langevin Pushes for Critical Infrastructure Protections in Annual Defense Bill: Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin — who chairs the House Armed Services panel’s cyber subcommittee and served on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission — has drafted an amendment to match the commission’s recommendation to boost defenses for “systemically important critical infrastructure (SICI)” via reporting and other mechanisms. (Cyberscoop)

New House Bill Tasks CISA With SolarWinds Report: One lawmaker is looking for a full accounting of the damage done to federal networks as a result of the supply chain hack perpetrated via the SolarWinds Orion platform in 2020. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), the vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced a bill last week that would task the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency with a report, in consultation with the Office of the National Cyber Director, detailing the impact of the SolarWinds hack on federal information systems, federal agencies and other critical infrastructure. (Federal Computing Weekly)

Environment & Interior

Big Spending Boost May Be Too Little for National Parks’ Needs: Even as the House Appropriations Committee is proposing to offer a multimillion-dollar boost for national parks and federal land, the recent catastrophic flooding at Yellowstone National Park shows the increase may not be enough. The House Appropriations Committee on June 29 approved a $44.8 billion fiscal 2023 spending bill that would boost spending for environmental, public lands and tribal programs within the Interior Department by $6.8 billion, or 18 percent. Included in the bill was a 15 percent increase for public lands administered by agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. (Roll Call)

Dems’ Climate and Tax Agenda to Consume Congress in July: Democrats are taking tangible steps towards a deal on their party’s signature spending bill, expecting the proposal to dominate the rest of July and hoping it could reshape their political fortunes after six months of stasis. Talks between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are beginning to yield concrete results on a potential climate, tax and prescription drugs package. Schumer told Senate Democrats recently that if he can reach a deal with Manchin, the bill could be on the floor as soon as this month, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. (Politico)

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH 

Health/HHS/NIH

Biden Unveils Executive Order to Protect Abortion Access: President Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at preserving some access to abortion services, but again acknowledged Congress has ultimate control over the issue right now. “If you want to change the circumstance for women, and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote,” Biden said. (The Hill) Biden said on Sunday that his Administration is considering declaring a “public health emergency” to preserve access to abortion. (Axios)

Labor & Workforce

Women’s Barriers to Work Threaten the Economy — And Biden’s Commerce Secretary Says He Can’t Fix It: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Sunday explained that while she isn’t too worried about the overall health of the economy, she does have a bone to pick on one particular issue: women’s access to participating in the workforce. “If you’re serious about the labor shortage, lean in to making sure women can fully participate,” she said in an interview on “Meet the Press.” (Politico)

Biden’s Union Pension Bailout – What it Means, and Will it Work: The Biden administration unveiled details last week of the final rules surrounding the federal bailout of hundreds of union pension plans passed as part of Democrats’ $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act coronavirus relief package last year, saying it will secure workers’ benefits for decades to come. (Fox Business)

Department of Education

Education Department Announces Major Changes to Student Loan Forgiveness: President Joe Biden is continuing his commitment to fixing student loans and student loan forgiveness. Last Wednesday, the Biden administration proposed regulations that would help more student loan borrowers get student loan cancellation. “We are committed to fixing a broken system,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “If a borrower qualifies for student loan relief, it shouldn’t take mountains of paperwork or a law degree to obtain it…These proposed regulations will protect borrowers and save them time, money, and frustration, and will hold their colleges responsible for wrongdoing.” (Forbes)

Banking & Housing/HUD

FHA Gives Borrowers Flexibility to Combat “Unnecessary” Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is making it easier for homebuyers financially affected by COVID-19 to qualify for a loan. The administration told lenders Thursday it will grant underwriting flexibility in cases in which a borrower experienced a gap in employment or a reduction of income as a result of the pandemic — but has since financially recovered. The flexibilities, which can be immediately implemented by lenders, mainly are expected to help hourly wage-earners, as well as self-employed borrowers. (HousingWire)

Crypto/Blockchain

U.S. Treasury Develops ‘Framework’ for International Crypto Regulation: The U.S. Treasury Department published a fact sheet outlining how it could work with foreign regulators to address the cryptocurrency sector. The fact sheet said the framework “is intended to ensure that America’s core democratic values are respected,” pointing to consumer, investor and business protection, the safety of the global financial system and interoperability. The framework’s policy objectives also include reducing the potential use of crypto for illicit finance, promoting access to financial services, supporting technological advancement and reinforcing U.S. leadership in the global financial system. (CoinDesk)

Fed’s Brainard says Crypto Needs Regulation Now Before it Becomes So Big that It Threatens Financial System: Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard became the latest official to speak out on crypto, saying Friday that regulation is needed or the industry could become a wider danger. “Innovation has the potential to make financial services faster, cheaper and more inclusive, and to do so in ways that are native to the digital ecosystem,” she said in a speech at a Bank of England conference in London. “It is important that the foundations for sound regulation of the crypto financial system be established now before the crypto ecosystem becomes so large or interconnected that it might pose risks to the stability of the broader financial system.” (CNBC)

Tax Reform/IRS

IRS Asks Watchdog to Investigate Comey, McCabe Audits: The IRS has asked a government watchdog to investigate how two former senior FBI officials frequently criticized by former President Donald Trump were chosen for intense audits. In a statement, agency Commissioner Chuck Rettig said he had personally contacted Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration about the matter. (Politico)

U.S. Treasury to End 1979 Treaty with Global Minimum Tax Holdout Hungary: The U.S. Treasury on Friday said it was moving to terminate a 1979 tax treaty with Hungary in the wake of Budapest’s decision to block the European Union’s implementation of a new, 15% global minimum tax. (Reuters)

Transportation/DOT

Biden Administration Proposes Rule Requiring States, Cities to Set Transportation Climate Targets: A proposed rule released by the Biden administration would require states and cities to set carbon emission reduction targets for transportation. The draft rule would require state transportation departments and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) with National Highway System mileage within their boundaries to both measure their transportation-related emissions and develop reduction targets. (The Hill)

Biden Nominates Denver Airport Executive as FAA Head: President Biden nominated Phil Washington to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) amid a resurgence in commercial flying demand that has made for a chaotic summer travel season. Washington has worked in the transit industry for more than 20 years, previously heading Los Angeles’s public transportation system before becoming the CEO of Denver International Airport last summer. (The Hill)

DOT Announces First-Ever Bill of Rights for Passengers with Disabilities, Calls on Airlines to Seat Families Together Free of Charge: As the busy summer travel season continues, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced actions taken by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to help protect airline passengers. USDOT has published the first-ever Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights and issued a notice to airlines to seat young children next to a parent. (Clark Hill Insight)

Trade

U.S. to Lift Tariffs on Canadian Solar Products: The United States has agreed to lift tariffs on Canadian solar products after a trade dispute settlement panel sided with Ottawa earlier this year, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng and the office of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. (Reuters)

U.S. Mulls Fresh Bid to Restrict Chipmaking Tools for China’s SMIC: The Biden administration is considering new targeted restrictions on shipments of chipmaking tools to China, seeking to hamstring advances by China’s largest chipmaker, SMIC, without slowing the flow of chips into the global economy. (Reuters)

Biden says He Has Not Decided on China Tariffs, Reviewing Them ‘One at a Time’: President Joe Biden said on Friday that he has not yet made a decision on whether to cut some U.S. tariffs on imports from China, saying his administration was reviewing them “one at a time.” (Reuters)

Space/NASA & NOAA

First Science Quality Images From JWST To Be Released Tuesday: NASA and its partners in the James Webb Space Telescope will release the first science-quality images on July 12. The images are being carefully chosen to showcase the capabilities of the telescope’s four instruments and what they are expected to reveal about the formation and evolution of the universe from its earliest days until now. (Space Policy Online)

The U.S. Government is Developing a Solar Geoengineering Research Plan: The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy has formed a cross-agency group to coordinate research on such climate interventions, in partnership with NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Energy. The group is developing a research plan that would guide and set standards for how scientists study one of the more controversial ways of  counteracting climate change: solar geoengineering. (MIT Technology Review)

NASA Criticizes Russia for Using Space Station to Promote Invasion of Ukraine: The statement from NASA appears to be in response to images released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos July 4 that showed the three Russian cosmonauts on the station — Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev — holding flags associated with the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic. (Space News)

Defense/DOD

Ukraine War Tactics Reaffirm US Army’s Modernization Thrust, Service Chief Says: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the U.S. Army that its modernization priorities, including top priority long-range precision fires, are properly focused, Gen. James McConville, the service’s chief of staff, told reporters during a July 7 visit to U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Defense News)

Tennessee Governor Presses Pentagon on National Guard Vaccine Exemptions: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) is pressing the Department of Defense to approve requests for exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate made by his state’s National Guard.  In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin obtained by The Hill, Lee says his state’s Guard has recommended approval for Guard members and are awaiting final decisions from Army and Air Force officials. (The Hill)

Marines Look To A Future Where More Authority, Intel Moves to the Edge: Marine commanders on the battlefield need access to better intelligence and AI tools for more rapid decision making, while higher-ranking commanders further from the tactical edge must accept that their picture may be less timely and complete and will focus more on pre-planning logistics, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said last week at an event sponsored by the Hudson Institute. (Defense One)

DHS & Immigration

Biden Administration Defends DACA Program at Appeals Court: The Biden administration defended an Obama-era immigration program for “Dreamers” at a federal appeals court last Wednesday, in a case that threatens to strip protections from hundreds of thousands of young immigrants. The Justice Department’s Brian M. Boynton told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that a 2012 memo that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, “is lawful in its entirety and should be upheld.” (Roll Call)

Biden is Facing Another Major Immigration Decision. The White House is Still Weighing What to Do: The Biden administration is facing a major deadline to decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan exiles living in the United States. But with days to go for a decision, officials are still torn, juggling the benefits it could have on their political standing in Florida and the potential it brings to worsen the migrant buildup on the U.S. southern border. (Politico)

Biden is Nowhere Close to Hitting His Refugee Goals: Biden officials expect to fall short by about 100,000 refugees on their goal to resettle 125,000 in the U.S. this fiscal year, according to two sources with direct knowledge of internal estimates. The U.S. refugee system was drastically curtailed by the Trump administration and has since been beset by pandemic closures. Understaffed agencies have also been tasked with handling a surge in other types of humanitarian applications from Afghans and Ukrainians. (Axios)

Judiciary/DOJ

Justice Department Sues Arizona over New Election Law Requiring Proof of Citizenship: The Justice Department sued the state of Arizona to block a law that would require proof of citizenship to register to vote in the state. The law, which Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed in March, is set to take effect in January. (CNN)

Cyber

Key Federal Cyber Agency Set to Get Procurement Authority, Contracting Officers: As one of the newest federal standalone agencies, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is still building out management and support operations that other agencies may take for granted, such as procurement authority. CISA was established as a standalone operational component of DHS in 2018, having previously been the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS headquarters. (Federal News Network)

EPA & DOI

Biden Administration Eyes Limits on Single-Use Plastics in Government Purchases: The Biden administration may set some limits on the use of single-use plastics in goods that are purchased by the federal government. The General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees federal government purchasing, said in a notice published on Thursday that it could restrict the purchases. (The Hill)

Administration Weighs Options for Alaska Drilling Project That Would Produce 629M Barrels of Oil: The Biden administration is weighing several options for the future of a major proposed drilling project in Alaska that could produce massive quantities of oil and significantly contribute to climate change. The administration released an environmental review that said that at its peak, the project could produce more than 180,000 barrels of oil per day and produce a total of 629 million barrels overall over the course of a 30-year duration. (The Hill)



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