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Legislative Affairs

February 10, 2023

Biden’s SOTU Message: “Let’s Finish the Job!”

Congress Finalizing Committee Rosters and Awaiting FY24 Appropriations Guidance & Deadlines

On Tuesday President Biden delivered his State of the Union address to Congress, concluding that the country is strong because its people are strong. Much has already been written about the raucous crowd with its mix of applause and booing throughout, just as much has already been said about Biden’s apparent campaign slogan, “let’s finish the job,” a phrase he uttered a dozen times. Biden signaled a number of ‘pie in the sky’ policy priorities, including an assault weapons ban, police reform, and rewriting the tax code to go after the ultra-wealthy. Biden is also leaving the door open for cooperation with the Republican House, congratulating Speaker McCarthy on his new role. He’ll need their help to raise the debt limit and pass the annual appropriations bills that keep government operating at a minimum. The President also threatened to veto any legislation to cut Medicare and Social Security or that would undue his legislative accomplishments. Biden hit the road after the SOTU, heading to key battleground states, with all current signs indicating his intention to run for re-election in 2024.

Here’s what else you may have missed this week:

Congressional hearings are underway, with both Administration and Industry officials targets on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol. The House Oversight and Accountability Committee held a hearing on Big Tech censorship, bringing in former top Twitter executives to answer questions including from sitting Members of Congress who were previously banned from Twitter for their political views. The new Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) held its first hearing on Thursday, featuring testimony from members of Congress and frequent Fox News guests who accused the government of unfairly targeting conservatives and big tech of censorship. Department of Defense officials faced tough questions in the Senate on the handling of the Chinese spy balloon over the US and coming soon, the new Chair of the Senate HELP Committee Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced he is calling in Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz before his Committee on March 9th over the company’s efforts to squash labor unions. Notably, the House Ways & Means Committee under their new Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) conducted his first hearing on the road, with a field hearing Monday on the state of the economy held at a lumber company in Appalachia. Chairman Smith has said he wants to take committee hearings on the road to break out of the bubble of Washington.

Appropriations Update: We continue to await both Member and Committee deadlines for FY24 funding requests. To date, very few Member offices have set late February or early March deadlines for constituents to submit funding requests with the vast majority of Members expected to set their deadlines soon. We will update you directly and in real-time on the Member deadlines that impact you. An even bigger question remains which is what the topline spending levels will be, as House Republicans are demanding a return to FY22 spending levels which could mark a $130 billion reduction from the current FY23 baseline. If they hold defense spending harmless, that would mean significant spending cuts in domestic spending programs of the magnitude of 8% if applied equally across the board. It is possible House Republicans would “mark” their bills to those numbers, only to have the Senate ignore and mark to higher levels, with an inevitable and consequential showdown come fall.

Ending the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency. The Department of Health and Human Services has released a fact sheet on their Transition Roadmap to ending the Public Health Emergency consistent with the Administration’s announcement last week. The emergency is scheduled to end on May 11, 2023. Check out what will and will not be affected here.

House District Recess. The House goes on a two-week district recess today through the February 27th. As Members return to doing more public events, your WSW team continue to work with you to engage your key Members both at home in their state and districts as well as here in Washington.

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