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Legislative Affairs

June 9, 2023

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.

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