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House Conservatives Revolt & Halt Floor Action

Trump Indicted on Federal Charges

Speaker McCarthy pledges that next up in the House are appropriations, authorizations and investigations

A tense political week for Republicans ended with Former President Donald Trump announcing Thursday that he has been indicted on charges connected to his handling of classified national security records, writing on social media that he has been summoned to federal court on Tuesday in Miami.

Earlier in the week, House Conservatives, who have been up in arms about the level of spending cuts and lack of GOP priorities in the debt deal, staged a surprising revolt on the House floor that surprised their Leadership and blocked legislation from coming to the House Floor. Such a move has not occurred since 2002. So, while hard-core conservatives may not have moved to ‘vacate’ the Speakership after the debt deal, they did not waste time signaling their intention to re-assert themselves on the House agenda. One of their key targets are the Fiscal Year 2024 annual appropriations bills. While the debt limit deal set a limit for both domestic and defense discretionary spending, House conservatives are demanding even lower spending levels as well as policy “riders” that will make for an even more complicated path for passage of these annual “must pass” spending measures. The House Appropriations Committee has yet to release a new schedule of subcommittee and full committee mark-ups which were underway but suspended when work began in earnest on the debt deal. Senate Appropriations concluded their scheduled hearings this week with a closed-door Defense hearing. House Appropriators are now more likely to write bills that are closer to the FY22 spending limits called for in the House-passed debt limit.

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

The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability early this week released a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena lawfully issued by the Committee in its investigation into the Biden family. However, Wray relented at the last minute and granted the Committee access to the document, forestalling a vote on the contempt resolution. Wray and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are scheduled testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month.

House and Senate NDAA Markups are set. Speaker McCarthy rejects need for Defense Supplemental. House Armed Services Committee for the FY 24 NDAA Subcommittee markups will begin June 13th with a full committee markup scheduled for June 21st. Senate Armed Services Committee will markup their version of the FY 24 NDAA at Subcommittee June 20 & 21 with Full Committee markups starting June 21st. During last week’s Senate debate on the debt limit legislation, Senate leaders issued a joint statement saying the “debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds.” They gave this reassurance after some Republican senators balked at voting for the debt deal because they thought it didn’t sufficiently fund defense programs. However, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this week made clear his view that the debt deal already provides for increased FY 24 defense funding and there is no need for a supplemental.

Merck sues the Biden Administration over implementation of last year’s reconciliation law that allows the Health and Human Services Department to negotiate for lower prices on drugs. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that the negotiation program is “extortion” and violates the Fifth Amendment by not paying the company “just compensation” for its products. “By coercing Merck to provide its drug products at government-set prices, the Program takes property for public use without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment,” Robert Josephson, Merck’s executive director of global media relations, said in a statement. The reconciliation law passed by congressional Democrats in 2022 allows Medicare to negotiate for lower prices for a certain subset of drugs. HHS Secretary Becerra responded the same day to the Merck lawsuit by stating price negotiations are as “American as apple pie” at a public health forum in Washington.

More entrants to the Presidential contest. This week, former Vice President Mike Pence, New Jersey’s former governor Chris Christie, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum joined the ranks of Republican Presidential contenders.

Debt Limit Deal Done

Raises Debt Limit Until January 1, 2025

The U.S. Senate passed the bill to raise the debt limit late Thursday by a vote of 63-37 after rapid consideration of a series of amendments, none of which passed. Passage came with only 17 Republican votes and only after public assurances by Senate Majority Leader Schumer that a defense supplemental would be in order later this year to address the funding needed for Ukraine, as well as potential domestic needs including funding for natural disasters and the fentanyl crisis. President Biden is expected to sign the measure as early as today and address the nation from the Oval office this evening. After months of tense standoff between House Republicans and the White House, the deal that was reached:

  • Raises the debt limit through January 1, 2025
  • Enacts two years spending limits followed by additional years of targeted but not enforceable savings
  • Imposes work requirements for recipients of some but not all federal social programs
  • Implements limited energy project permitting reforms
  • Rescinds some unspent COVID funds
  • Repeals funding of new IRS agents this fiscal year

The House voted to pass the bill late Wednesday by a vote of 314-117. Speaker McCarthy secured almost two-thirds of his own Republican Conference in support of the measure, but was also aided by 165 Democrat votes to pass the measure in the House.

The debt deal is expected to bring some much-needed stability to U.S. and global financial markets, and for purposes of the remaining Congressional agenda for the year, the finalized deal will bring certainty to spending limits for both domestic and defense discretionary spending that will allow the annual appropriations process to proceed for FY2024. We anticipate a busy June and July mark-up season in both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, so stay tuned for mark-up updates from your WSW team members on each of the annual appropriations bills and outcomes on your specific requests.

In addition, there is a backlog of legislative and investigative items that have been held up due to work on the debt limit, so expect the June and July calendars to quickly fill up with Congressional action on those items as well. These will include action on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), work toward the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, and continued action on competition with China as well as work on other priorities including on emergent issues of AI and data privacy, possible banking reform, high profile investigations planned by House Republicans, and ongoing efforts by the Biden Administration to tout and implement prior legislative victories in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that were untouched by the debt deal. This week the Senate also acted to stop the President’s planned student aid relief but failed to reach a veto-proof majority, though this same policy is pending before the Supreme Court for review and a ruling is expected soon. Last but not least, we’ll be watching as more contenders announce their entry into the 2024 Presidential race.

Debt Limit Deal Reached

House to vote Wednesday, Senate to follow

The announcement came late Saturday night that the White House and House Speaker McCarthy had reached a deal in principle to raise the debt ceiling. The House, which broke last Thursday for its previously scheduled Memorial Day recess, is expected to return to Washington to vote on the deal on Wednesday, May 31. The Senate will follow suit as soon as Friday, though votes may last into the weekend. The challenge now will be to assemble the actual votes necessary to pass the deal in the House and Senate with just days to go before the revised June 5th “X-date” when Treasury Secretary Yellen has stated the US Government will default on its debt.

Attached here is the White House statement on the deal.
Attached here is the House Republicans’ statement on the deal.

In announcing the deal, Speaker McCarthy said, “Normally you have 1,000-page bill, this is going to be less than 150 pages. Normally, the country doesn’t know about it until after it’s passed. Now, we’ll wait 72 hours. This is worthy of the American people. I want them to read it. I want them to understand it.” A copy of the bill text can be found here, and House Republicans’ section-by-section of the bill can be found here.

Key components of the deal include:

Suspends the debt limit through January 1, 2025. Typically, Congress has passed legislation increasing the debt limit to a specific dollar amount. This agreement simply suspends the debt limit for a period of approximately 20 months.

Imposes Spending Caps. The two-year agreement keeps non-defense funding essentially flat – about $637 billion – for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, which begins on October 1, 2023. Defense funding would be capped at the President’s Budget Request level – $886 billion, about a 3.5 percent increase over FY2023. Veterans’ medical care would also match the President’s Budget Request of $121 billion in FY2024.

Non-defense spending would increase by one percent in 2025, followed by six years of non-enforceable funding targets. Congress would have to pass all 12 of the annual funding bills by the end of January or face a Continuing Resolution (CR) that automatically cuts spending by one percent across the board unless and until individual appropriations bills are passed. This two-year agreement is far from the $130 billion in spending cuts House Republicans originally sought.

Expands work requirements. The bill expands work requirements under the SNAP food assistance program, as well as for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, though these expanded requirements will sunset in 2030. There are no new work requirements on Medicaid.

Changes energy permitting process. There are minimal changes to the current permitting process, adding “process efficiencies” to the decades-old law governing federal environmental reviews of projects, and calls for designating just one lead federal agency to review a particular permit. There have been pledges by negotiators, particularly House Republicans to their Senate counterparts, to continue to pursue permitting reform separate from this agreement. The deal keeps intact the hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy funding included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – funding that Republicans had sought to repeal.

Claws back unspent COVID aid. The deal includes the claw-back of unspent COVID relief funds as proposed by House Republicans.

Cuts funding for IRS. The increased funding for expanded IRS enforcement included as part of the IRA is partially cut. Republicans sought to repeal the entirety of the funding increase – $80 billion – but the deal repeals only the FY2023 portion of the funding increase.

Student loans. The deal would require borrowers to restart the payback of student loans, which was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement would maintain Biden’s plan to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief for qualifying borrowers, though that plan remains before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on it in coming weeks.

With Debit Limit Nearing Congress Goes Home for Memorial Day Weekend

Key Negotiators Remain in Washington to Reach a Deal

After another week of back-and-forth negotiations on the debit limit, Members of Congress headed home for the holiday weekend just days before what could be a catastrophic never before default on the nation’s debt. With the forecasted “X” date of June 1st, less than a week away, the principal negotiators continue work towards a deal to raise the debt limit.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy remains in Washington this weekend along with key negotiators to hammer out the final details of negotiations between his team and the White House. As is currently being reported, here is where the proposed deal stands:

  • Defense and Veterans funding will be protected from cuts;
  • The debt limit will be raised for at least two years through to 2024;
  • Discretionary spending limits will be also be put in place for at least two years;
  • Domestic spending limits are likely to be less than called for in the House Republican passed plan (FY22 levels);
  • There is also a rumored trigger for an automatic continuing resolution at agreed upon reduced spending levels in the event that appropriations bills are not agreed upon by a certain date;
  • Work requirements and permitting reform are outstanding items that are still being negotiated.

Members on the hard Right and far Left have expressed dismay to outright opposition to emergent details of the deal, signaling that Leaders negotiating the deal on both sides will both have to deliver votes to pass it.

Assuming these final sticking points can be agreed upon by Speaker McCarthy and President Biden, Members will receive 24 hours-notice to return to Washington and will have no less than 72 hours to review the “deal”; the House will act first followed by the Senate. The ability to get a deal passed in advance of Thursday seems all but impossible timing-wise but the deal could be announced as early as this weekend and the Treasury Department either has additional flexibilities to use or would need to prioritize payments on the US debt until such a deal is passed.

Biden Administration and Congress Face Renewed Pressure on Debt Limit

Treasury Secretary Yellen Says Default Could Occur June 1st

The House and Senate return next week with the clock ticking until the “X-Date” of June 1st by which the debt limit needs to be raised to avoid the first default in United States history, according to an announcement by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy successfully passed his debt limit extension proposal in the House last week, proposing to raise the debt limit in exchange for cuts in domestic discretionary spending to FY2022 levels and making significant changes to other existing federal programs.

President Biden has called all four Congressional leaders to the White House for a meeting on Tuesday, May 9th, in hopes of charting a path forward to address the debt limit. Late this week, the White House also floated the idea of a temporary extension of the debt limit through October 1, though the chances of House Republicans agreeing to it are slim. The Biden Administration continues to call for and seek a “clean” increase in the debt limit and both House and Senate Democrats are attempting to make the case that the House Republican plan would slash important programs for seniors, veterans, and the most needy Americans. House Democrats this week also unveiled a plan to use a “discharge petition” to force a House floor vote on a clean debt limit increase aimed to put pressure on moderate, swing district House Republicans. There are very few actual session days in May so it will be an intense and bumpy ride leading up to the announced June 1 “X-Date”, unless consensus is reached early by the Leaders and that consensus is one which will be supported by rank-and-file Members on both sides of the aisle.

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

May action on FY2024 Appropriations has been scheduled. The House Appropriations Committee has announced scheduled subcommittee and full committee mark up dates. House Republicans will be marking up their bills to FY2022 levels, consistent with the legislation passed last week and $130bn less than current funding levels. How that funding will be divided between the subcommittees is not yet announced, but it is a significant drop in overall discretionary spending from current spending levels, and if Defense spending is spared – which many in the House are advocating for and is likely – the cuts to domestic discretionary spending will be even more dramatic. The relevant committee dates are as follows:

The House Appropriations Committee has announced its plans to hold the FY2024 markups in two tranches:

  • Tranche 1: Subcommittee 5/17 – 5/18; Full Committee 5/23 – 5/25
  • Tranche 2: Subcommittee 6/7 – 6/8; Full Committee 6/13 – 6/15

While there is no formal announcement about which bills will be considered during each tranche, some news reports indicate the first tranche of markups will include the following five bills: Defense; Energy & Water; Homeland Security; Military Construction & Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray stated in a recent interview that the Senate Appropriations Committee is aiming to have its first markups on May 18, though that is not yet set. In addition, negotiations continue over the overall topline funding level that the Senate will use for its FY2024 bills. Unlike the House, Chair Murray and Ranking Member Susan Collins are reportedly negotiating the topline levels in a bipartisan manner and are not likely to adhere to the FY2022 levels proposed by the House.

More Congressional action is likely on competition with China. In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday plans to introduce a bipartisan bill to respond to recent Chinese aggression against Taiwan and to enhance economic competition with China. The bill itself, which will be introduced in the coming months will have 5 focus areas:

1. Blocking Chinese development of advanced technologies;
2. Restricting foreign investment in China;
3. Encouraging new domestic development of advanced technologies;
4. Creating an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road” initiative;
5. Preventing China from starting a war with Taiwan.

Schumer believes he can pass this legislation in the Senate with bipartisan support where it will need 60 votes to clear its first hurdle. It is uncertain if House Republicans will be as ready to take on this legislation after they voted against the related semiconductor bill in the previous Congress.

House Passes Debt Limit Package, Pressuring President and Congressional Democrats

President Biden has not Budged, Demands a Clean Bill Followed by Spending Negotiations

On Wednesday, April 26, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy successfully advanced the House GOP’s proposal to raise the debt limit in exchange for significant future discretionary spending cuts and repeal of several IRA provisions related to climate and renewable energy. Passing the “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023” package on a vote of 217-215, McCarthy and the House GOP have ramped up the pressure on President Biden and Congressional Democrats to engage in negotiations immediately with an eye toward a deal.

Although McCarthy had resisted changes to the proposal released last week, he responded to concerns by Midwest GOP Members who withheld support until the repeal of IRA provisions that support ethanol use were removed from the package. Further, McCarthy accelerated the schedule for work requirements added for SNAP and Medicaid benefits to 2024, in response to concerns by Members including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Though that helped forge the way to securing sufficient Republican support for passage, Rep. Gaetz was among the 4 Republicans voting no on the measure. No House Democrats voted for the package.

In response to House passage, on Tuesday the Office of Management and Budget issued a veto threat, and President Biden held firm in indicating willingness to negotiate – but only once the threat of default is taken off the table through a so-called “clean” debt limit increase. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the vote made default more likely by locking the House into an untenable position, and echoed Biden’s call for a clean increase in the debt limit. This seemed to be validated by the comments of some House GOP Members immediately after passage that reinforced that they would support only this plan and no other.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continued to defer to the House, applauding passage of the measure and calling on President Biden and House Republicans to enter direct negotiations – without including Senate Republicans in such talks. In the narrowly divided Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) urged negotiations on the House GOP package, citing it as the only legislative vehicle currently in play to raise the debt limit and avoid default.

It appears that there is some time before the debt limit must be increased to avoid default. While the Treasury Department is the authority under law, analysts at Goldman Sachs have advised that higher than expected tax revenue puts the debt limit’s “X date” in July. At the same time, market volatility will be something that the House, Senate, and White House watch closely, understanding that chaos in the markets – even over an “X date” months away – could force negotiations to accelerate. Similarly, in the face of the release of economic data that suggest a slowing economy, and with a recession on the horizon, all those involved in these high-stakes negotiations may recognize what is at risk as any date for default nears.

For perspective, during the last time that the House GOP used the debt limit and the danger of default as leverage to force spending cuts in 2011, a deal was not reached until 72 hours before the time that Treasury said borrowing authority would be exhausted. We may be gearing up for a similar experience, 12 years later – though with greater polarization between the parties and fewer centrists on either side of the aisle serving in the House and Senate.

Debt Limit Maneuvering Ratchets Up As Speaker McCarthy Releases House GOP Plan

Floor Vote is Likely next Week

On Wednesday, April 19th, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled the House’s GOP’s opening salvo in the negotiations to raise the debt limit in exchange for a wide array of funding and policy changes sought by Republicans upon taking control of the House of Representatives in January 2023.

Speaker McCarthy plans a floor vote in the House of Representatives next week, and despite his very narrow five seat majority, he is confident the House will pass the plan. No House Democrats are expected to support the House GOP plan. Passage of the plan would give McCarthy leverage with both the White House and the Senate to secure concessions as a condition for advancing this “must pass” measure to raise the nation’s debt limit and avoid potential default. To date, both President Biden and Senate Democrats have demanded a “clean” debt limit increase – with no other provisions attached – insisting that once the threat of default has been taken off the table only then can negotiations on the annual federal budget and other policy matters including tax and entitlement policies begin. House Republicans recognize their bargaining power is at their height during “must pass” negotiations on the debt limit, another reason that their proposal also calls for the debt limit to be revisited again mid-year next year. Biden’s goal of a clean debt limit increase will be more difficult to achieve if McCarthy is able to pass his package in the House, as it would illustrate the resolve of the House GOP to a high-stakes showdown in the coming months.

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified Congress the US Treasury had reached the current statutory debt limit of $31.381 trillion and had initiated the use of “extraordinary measures” to avoid default. Those extraordinary measures are estimated now to be exhausted as early as June or at latest by the end of August, by which time Congress and the Administration must have reached agreement or risk the first-ever default on the U.S. debt.

Details of McCarthy’s plan, The Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (link) would raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or through March 31, 2024, whichever occurs first. The increase in the debt limit is tied to $4.5 trillion in budgetary savings and a House Republican policy wish list as follows:

  • Limiting discretionary federal spending to FY22 spending levels – and then limiting increases in the budget to 1% annually over the next decade;
  • Rescinding billions in unspent COVID aid;
  • Repealing key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, including EV and climate change provisions;
  • Inclusion of the House Republican Energy plan to advance fossil fuels;
  • Imposing work requirements on Medicaid and food stamp recipients;
  • Defunding 87,000 new IRS agents and
  • Blocking the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan.

A complete section by section summary can be found here.

While McCarthy’s package will see no light of day in the Senate, it sets the stage for real negotiations to begin. Already, additional proposals are being floated by various blocs of Members in Congress, such as by the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans in the House.

You should anticipate that both Congressional and Administration efforts to gain the upper hand in negotiations over the debt limit will intensify over the next weeks and have the strong potential for immediate impact on this year’s Congressional agenda, the FY24 appropriations process and beyond.

Former President Trump Officially Indicted

Congress Heads to Two Week Recess after another Contentious Week

House Republicans managed to pass their signature energy package this week, H.R. 1 the Lower Energy Costs Act, which aims to expedite the development, importation, and exportation of energy resources by waiving certain environmental review requirements, rolls back Biden Administration bans on fracking, and expands energy permits on federal land. House Speaker McCarthy and Majority Leader Scalise had just a few hours to tout their signature accomplishment and capture headlines before the news cycle turned to former President Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury. He is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday and has already stated that this would in no way effect his run for the presidency.

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

Partisan Tensions Continue on Key Committees and No Progress on Debt Limit Discussions. On Wednesday Senate HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders questioned former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz under oath about what he views as the company’s union busting activities while Senate Republicans countered that the National Labor Relations Board has taken a partisan turn. In the House, in a hearing of the new House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Democrat Members charged that they were denied the right to question witnesses. And just off the House floor, a heated argument broke out among a House Democrat and House Republican Member over the cause of the school shooting in Nashville, TN. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy also traded jabs on who is to blame on failure to begin negotiations on the debt limit.

The Senate repeals the AUMF. The Senate voted Wednesday to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has stood for over 20 years and was signed under President George W. Bush and paved the way for the invasion of Iraq and the justifications for the broader War on Terror. Elsewhere in the Senate, Sen. Tuberville (R-AL) is holding up virtually all military promotions, over 160 currently pending which typically sail through the chamber, over a DoD policy permitting access to abortion procedures. Critics argue his efforts are impacting military readiness while supporters say it is a legitimate political tactic.

SCHEDULING NOTE: Congress is on spring recess for the next two weeks. As partisan pressures mount in Washington, Members are headed back home to their states and districts. Speaker McCarthy is tentatively scheduled to visit with the President of Taiwan in California amid increased tensions with China. CONGRESS RETURNS ON APRIL 17TH.

Next Phase of FY24 Appropriations Process Begins

Administration Officials Head to the Hill to Make FY24 Budget Case

With most Member deadlines for constituent requests for the FY24 appropriations cycle coming to a close this week and next, Members and staff must now sort through the hundreds if not thousands of requests and recommendations received and decide which to put forward to the Committee and Subcommittee by those deadlines over the course of the next few weeks. While that internal process is taking place, Administration officials are headed to Capitol Hill to appear in front of both authorizing and appropriations committees to justify their FY24 budget requests. Among them, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra appeared this week. Your WSW team will be reporting out to you directly on hearings impacting your key areas of interests. All of these activities come in advance of the mark-up of FY24 appropriations bills which we expect could begin as early as this spring or early summer in both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

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

President Biden issues first veto. President Biden issued the first veto of his presidency this week to protect an administrative initiative promoting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies for retirement fund managers. Republicans oppose ESG practices, claiming such practices can be contrary to the interests of investors. Their attempt to override the president’s veto failed in the House on Thursday.

Recent bank failures add pressure to debt limit negotiations. The Congressional agenda is only getting more challenging with recent bank failures adding to significant economic uncertainties and making the stakes around raising the nation’s debt ceiling even higher. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates again this week in continued attempts to drive down inflation while expressing confidence that the U.S. banking system was sound. House Leader McCarthy continues to call for major concessions on reducing overall levels of federal spending while President Biden continues to call for early action on a clean measure to raise the debt limit and to do so sooner rather than later to add certainty to an otherwise uncertain landscape. This standoff shows no signs of abating in the near-term. In the weeks to come, the Biden Administration is expected to hit the road to continue to highlight major economic investments resulting from the work of the last two years including the Infrastructure Act and the CHIPS Act.

High profile Congressional hearings continue. The parade of CEOs before Congress continued this week with TikTok’s CEO facing bipartisan fire over the social media company’s Chinese ownership and invasive presence in the private lives of Americans and the security threat posed by the Chinese Communist party’s access to the company. Both Executive Branch and Legislative action restricting and even barring access to TikTok in the U.S. is anticipated. Next week, recently retired Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will face Senate HELP Chairman Bernie Sanders over what Sanders views as the company’s anti-union practices.

President Biden’s FY24 Budget Proposal Released

Members’ FY24 Appropriation Request Deadlines Ongoing

On Thursday, President Biden released his $6.8 trillion FY24 budget proposal, officially kicking off the budget negation process with Congress which will take place over the course of the rest of this year. Among the President’s wish list are a 7.3 percent increase in domestic spending, plans to extend the solvency of Medicare and Social Security entitlement programs and additional defense spending, all to be offset by higher taxes for the rich, including a so-called “billionaire” minimum tax, which the administration claims will also reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years. Republicans have already panned this proposal as unserious, stating that the deficit reduction is unreal, increasing taxes would hurt the economy and the proposed increases to defense spending are not enough while domestic spending should be cut back significantly, not rise. This proposal, like most presidential budgets, is considered largely “dead on arrival” but does serve as a starting point for House and Senate work on their own budgets to begin.

In related news, many Congressional offices were waiting to accept constituent requests for the annual appropriations requests until the President’s budget was announced, so most of those forms are now live with extremely short deadlines. Please continue working with your WSW Team to stay up to date of all developments in the appropriations process.

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

House Republicans will promote their signature energy bill next Tuesday. In advance of planned floor votes at the end of the month, Majority Leader Steve Scalise will lead efforts next week to begin promoting House Republican’s signature energy bill, H.R. 1, The Lower Energy Costs Act, which includes provisions to open up the permitting process for energy infrastructure like pipelines, forcing more lease sales on untapped energy sources, and easing access to mine rare-earth minerals, in contrast to the Biden’s Administration’s energy and climate policies.

31 Democrats join Senate Republicans in striking down a DC Crime Bill. In a rare bipartisan move, Democrats joined Republicans to resoundingly defeat a modification to laws in the District of Columbia which would have reduced penalties for some violent criminals in the nation’s capital. Congress has veto authority over changes to DC city laws and President Biden, despite complaints from within his own party, had also signaled he would not support the proposed changes to the DC law. Republicans quicky seized the opportunity to showcase their tough on crime credentials.

Hearing witnesses face hostile panels in House and Senate. Invitations to appear before House and Senate Committees may have once been considered a coveted invitation by industry leaders but of late, these invitations have had more risk than reward. The CEO of Norfolk Southern issued an apology before a Senate committee for his company’s train derailment in a small Ohio community, while Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and JD Vance (R) of Ohio, as well as many other Senators, pressed the CEO to make specific and long-term commitments to address the economic and health care impacts of the community now and over the longer-term. A Senate HELP hearing has now been scheduled with CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, for the end of March after Chairman Bernie Sanders threated to subpoena him for his testimony about his company’s actions against labor organizing. In the same committee this week, Sen. Markwayne Mullin got into a screaming match with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien who called the Senator a “greedy CEO” and the Senator responded by telling the Union leader to “shut up.” We can expect many more high profile and tension filled hearings as Administration officials head to Capitol Hill in the weeks to come to discuss and defend the President’s budget proposal and as more hearings are held on topics and events of high national profile.