United States Capitol building at night

Legislative Updates – February 9, 2024

A Chaotic Week

Congress endured a chaotic week in which leadership in both chambers suffered key setbacks. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Republicans lost two votes on Wednesday evening in dramatic fashion. A House resolution to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fell one vote short of passage due to three Republican defections. Just minutes later, a House bill to provide funding to Israel, which required two-thirds support as it was brought up under suspension of the rules, failed in a 250-180 vote.

In the Senate, a $118 billion national security supplemental bill which included U.S.-Mexico border security provisions, the product of months of bipartisan negotiations between Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), was unable to garner the 60 votes needed to advance, after President Biden endorsed the bill and former President Trump and House Republican leadership came out strongly against it.

After the border provisions were cut from the Senate bill, a procedural vote on the $95 billion Ukraine/Israel/West Bank/Gaza/Taiwan supplemental funding measure advanced 67-32. The Senate continues its negotiations on the bill and will consider amendments. A procedural vote is expected tonight, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plans to keep the Senate working through the weekend to the pass the bill. Even if the bill were to pass in the Senate, it’s fate in the House is uncertain.

Once the Senate concludes its work on the national security supplemental bill, Senators are scheduled to recess for the next two weeks, returning Monday, February 26. The House is in next week, then departs for recess until Wednesday, February 28.

FY 24

While appropriators continue their work writing their twelve FY 24 appropriations bills to the subcommittee allocations that were agreed to in late January, floor action on government funding is not expected until the week of February 26, just days before the March 1 deadline for the first tranche of funding bills in the current Continuing Resolution.

Republicans are pushing for the inclusion of conservative policy provisions, yet the House reliance on moving bills through suspension of the rules of rules, which requires a two-thirds supermajority vote threshold for passage and thus a significant number of Democratic votes, has given outsized leverage to House Democrats.

One of the concessions that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to conservatives to secure his speakership at the outset of the current Congress was the appointment of three conservatives—Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)—to the powerful House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for the consideration of legislation in the chamber. The House Rules Committee, Chaired by Tom Cole (R-OK), is comprised of nine Republicans and four Democrats. Thus, three Republican defections in the Rules Committee means that bills would need to bypass the Rules Committee and be taken up under suspension of the rules, a process typically used for minor, noncontentious measures.

Due to opposition on key bills from the three most conservative Members on the Rules Committee, it has been over eight months since House Republicans passed a rule on a bill that eventually became law, and House leadership has utilized the suspension of the rules process five times in the last four months. Suspension of the rules was used to advance the three iterations of FY 24 Continuing Resolutions, the tax bill which passed the House on January 31, and the National Defense Authorization Act. Furthermore, all five bills passed in the House with more Democratic votes than Republican votes.

While suspension of the rules has not been used to pass final, full year spending bills in modern congressional history, Speaker Johnson may need to utilize this approach to pass the FY 24 appropriations bills.

Tax Bill

Senate Republicans, including Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) have expressed concerns with the $78 billion bill, passed by the House in a bipartisan 357-70 vote on January 31, to expand the Child Tax Credit and restore several business tax breaks. Their concerns include the bill’s pay-for and a provision that would allow families to use the previous year’s earnings, seen as a reduction in work requirements. No decision has been made on whether to next consider the bill in the Senate Finance Committee or on the Senate floor.

DOL ETA’s Growth Opportunities Reentry FOA

DOL ETA’s Growth Opportunities reentry FOA was released on Wednesday. ETA will hold two rounds of funding, the first of which has an April 2 deadline. The second round will open July 1. In total there will be $85 million to fund 28 grants, up to $2 million for individual grantees and up to $5 million for intermediaries. The first round will provide 12 grants totaling $40 million, and nine of these awards will be to intermediaries.

The purpose of this funding is to introduce and prepare justice-involved youth and young adults for the world of work and put them on a path to more equitable career opportunities, through placement into paid work experiences. In addition to paid work experiences, the program encompasses occupational education and training in in-demand industries, leadership development, a mentorship component, and placement into unsubsidized employment and/or education. The FOA may be accessed here.

DOL ETA Pathway Home Round 5 FOA

DOL ETA’s Pathway Home 5 FOA was released yesterday. It will provide 20 grants up to $4 million for adult re-entry programming, with the goal of providing eligible incarcerated individuals with workforce services prior to release and to continue services after release. The FOA is available here.

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