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Congress returns with a month to prevent a government shutdown
As negotiations on a stopgap funding bill pick up, the White House is asking lawmakers for almost $50 billion to fund President Biden’s priorities.
We’re exactly nine weeks out from the November midterms. And while you’re likely about to be bombarded with campaign ads, donation requests and calls from candidates to volunteer on their behalf, Congress still has some critical items on its agenda between now and then.
Chief among them: Passing what’s known as a continuing resolution, which is a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open beyond the end of the month.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee that leads the process, is aiming for a CR that would extend the spending bill President Joe Biden signed into law in March through mid-December. This would give negotiators time to finish the 12 annual appropriations bills which together fund the entire federal government before the end of the Congress. (Leahy and his Republican counterpart Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama are both retiring in January so this is their swan song of sorts. And with Democrats projected to lose their House majority, there’s an incentive to fund their priorities for the upcoming year just in case.)
The White House is using the occasion to request over $47 billion to fund four of its priorities: The administration’s response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak, security assistance for Ukraine and money for natural disasters, which are worse and more frequent due to climate change.
“This package of technical assistance provides guidance to lawmakers on funding and legislative adjustments that are necessary to avoid disruptions to a range of important public services,” Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget said last week.
The White House ended its free at-home COVID tests program and said it’s unable to replenish its stock of personal protective equipment ahead of what could be a fall surge.
The revised request for $22.4 billion would cover testing, accelerate the research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics, prepare for future variants and support the global response to the pandemic.
“While we have made tremendous progress in our ability to protect against and treat COVID-19, we must stay on our front foot,” Young said.
Administration officials submitted a previous request for $22 billion in funding to prepare for the next round of the pandemic but Senate Republicans weren’t having it. Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said this morning during a COVID-19 briefing with reporters that it’s providing the money before the next crisis will save taxpayers because responding in the moment is more expensive.
The monkeypox outbreak has depleted the national stockpile of vaccines so the White House has asked Congress to set aside $3.9 billion to make vaccinations, testing, treatment and operational support accessible for the American people plus another $600 million to combat the global spread of the virus.
Then there’s the war in Ukraine. The administration has allocated three-fourths of the money Congress has already allocated for security and humanitarian assistance as Ukraine defends itself from Russia’s invasion. The White House says it needs an additional $11.7 billion for security and economic assistance through the end of the year, as well as $2 billion to help address the impacts Putin’s war has had on domestic energy supply and reduce energy costs in the future.
Meanwhile, recent extreme weather events in states like Kentucky, California, Louisiana and Texas have underscored the need for additional funding to address wildfires, droughts, floods, extreme heat, and to increase electric grid resilience. The White House is asking for $6.5 in the CR to meet this need.
But in an election year where the historic trends are working in their favor, some congressional Republicans loathe supporting any provisions that could be perceived by conservative voters as helping the other side.
In fact, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus last month sent a letter to their leadership to delay passing a new budget until after next year based on the assumption that they’re retaking one or both chambers.
“Republicans must use every opportunity at our disposal — especially through the constitutional power of the purse — to fight for the freedoms of the American People,” the Freedom Caucus said in its letter. “At a minimum, we should not fund government policies so brazenly and openly at odds with the exercise of those freedoms to the undeniable detriment of the American People.”
Senior administration officials said last Friday that emergency funding has been approved without offsets before and that it would work with congressional Republicans to resolve any of their concerns. But they showed no indication of wavering from their big ask.
“We need to get this funding done for the American people,” one of the officials said. “And that’s the bottom line.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Today is Tuesday, September 6. Happy National Grandparents Day and National Read a Book Day. Welcome to Supercreator, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how online creators work and live in the new economy. Send me tips, comments and questions — or say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of lawmakers led by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois released an outline of the principles for legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stock. The ban would apply to all members, their spouses and dependents under 18, and require covered persons to divest prohibited investments within 120 days of the effective date, diversify the investments or place them into a blind trust. The group called on leadership to hold a vote by the end of the month.
The Defense Department announced that the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial will be temporarily closed to the public on Friday through Sunday in support of the annual September 11th Observance Ceremony (more on this below).The Department encourages surviving family members of the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks who would like to visit the memorial during this time to connect the Pentagon Special Events Office.
The Housing and Urban Development Department announced the availability of $5.5 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to conduct research on the topics of housing, community development, and economic development, particularly in underserved communities. The projects will initiate an ongoing series of reports that can serve as national, local or regional benchmarks in support of Centers for Excellence that expand the housing and community development research efforts at HBCUs.
Related: HUD also announced the availability of $40 million through the Healthy Homes Production Grant Program to help transform communities by fixing older housing, preserving affordable housing, and improving communities and the health of children and families in these communities. The program is part of HUD’s overall Healthy Homes Initiative launched in 1999.
Rep.-elect Pat Ryan of New York was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America in his bid to represent a battleground district in the state’s Hudson Valley for a full two-year term. Ryan last month won a special election to serve out the remainder of New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado’s term with a campaign that focused on abortion rights and the economy. “NARAL is organizing voters to elect Ryan in November and ensure his opponent — who voted against legislation to enshrine the right to abortion in New York’s state constitution –– is defeated,” Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “Together, we’ll be working to re-elect Ryan to a full term in the U.S. House in November so that the majority of voters are heard and can make their own decisions about their lives, families, and futures.”
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong with 34 states and territories announced a $438.5 million agreement with JUUL Labs after a two-year bipartisan investigation into the e-cigarette company’s marketing and sales practices. The Food and Drug Administration in June voted to ban sales by JUUL.
Quiet quitters, employees who only work within defined hours and engage solely in activities within those hours, represent 50 percent of the US workforce, according to a new poll. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade. (Jim Harter / Gallup)
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Today in Politics
President Biden received his daily intelligence briefing before holding a cabinet meeting. Vice President Harris Kamala Harris attended the meeting.
The House is out.
The Senate is in and will vote to advance a nominee for US Circuit Judge for the 7th Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Biden’s week ahead:
Wednesday: The president and first lady will host former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official White House portraits.
Thursday: Biden will travel to National Harbor, Maryland to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.
Friday: The president will travel to Licking County, Ohio to speak about the CHIPS and Science Act at the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility before traveling to Delaware.
Saturday: Biden will return to the White House from Delaware.
Sunday: The president will speak at and attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.
Additional 9/11 details: First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will attend and speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial Observance in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to New York City to participate in a commemoration ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial.
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