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Happy Tuesday morning.
It’s a big week on Capitol Hill for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and other senior officials. More than a dozen top administration officials will be on the Hill during the next few days for hearings focused on budget requests for 2023 and oversight of their respective departments and agencies.
Ostensibly, most of these hearings are centered around what these departments and agencies need from Congress to operate for the next fiscal year. But these types of events can turn into rowdy sessions delving deep into the administration’s policies, positions and plans.
Expect to hear a lot about immigration and Title 42, Covid and federal mandates, the Jan. 6 insurrection, crime, Ukraine, climate change, gas prices and much more. In essence, this week will be a review on Biden’s policies across a whole host of issues.
→ Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today at 10 a.m., Senate Appropriations on Wednesday at 2 p.m., House Appropriations Thursday at 10 a.m. on Thursday, followed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday at 1 p.m. So a grueling few days on the Hill for the nation’s top diplomat.
Blinken has just returned from a weekend visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that will be the key focus for lawmakers. “I’m sure a lot of the questioning will go toward what did he hear from Zelensky, what is Zelensky asking for, what is the success of what we’ve already supplied, what’s the sense of that?” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
→ Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will be at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
→ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will be at the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday at 10 a.m., the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday at 2 p.m., and the House Judiciary Committee Thursday at 10 a.m. Thursday’s hearing in Judiciary is going to be something to watch.
→ HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will be in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.
→ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in front of the House Appropriations Committee Thursday at 10 a.m.
→ Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will be in front of the House Appropriations Committee Thursday at 9 a.m.
→ Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will be in front of the House Appropriations Committee Thursday at 10 a.m.
→ EPA Administrator Michael Regan will be in front of the House Appropriations Committee Friday at 9 a.m.
→ Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will be before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
→ VA Secretary Denis McDonough will be at House Veterans Affairs Thursday at 10 a.m.
→ CFPB Director Rohit Chopra will be at the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday at 10 a.m.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s discuss the FY 2023 spending bills. The “Four Corners” – House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas), the ranking member, plus Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member – will meet on Thursday, Shelby told reporters last night.
The annual wrangling over spending bills is just starting, and there’s an election in November, so Congress will pass a continuing resolution at some point before the end of the fiscal year. The two sides will reenact the same positions from the recently passed FY 2022 omnibus package – Democrats will push for more spending on social programs, Republicans will push for more Pentagon funding. We have a feeling this faceoff may not be finished until a lame-duck session.
DeLauro and House Democrats are planning to move the 12 annual spending bills through the chamber by summer – say July – with or without a topline deal, Democratic aides tell us. That won’t mean much to the Senate, where Republicans will just bottle up everything in order to maximize their own leverage.
Yet the process has to start somewhere, which is why we’ll be watching this “Four Corners” meeting to see what happens.
Reminder: Our interview with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET. Join us in-person or virtually for our conversation about equitable access to capital, his plans for next Congress, and more. RSVP today!
BEHIND THE SCENES
News: Klobuchar to give Dems briefing on Big Tech antitrust bill
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will brief Senate Democrats during their weekly lunch today about the latest on her sweeping Big Tech antitrust bill.
Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.
The Minnesota Democrat’s American Innovation and Choice Online Act, cosponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is a sharp bipartisan broadside at Silicon Valley. Read the summary here, but in essence, the legislation seeks to stop companies from giving preference to their own products on their platforms.
The bill passed the Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan 16-6 vote in January. But Big Tech companies have been furiously lobbying to kill the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he’ll put antitrust bills on the floor if backers can round up 60 votes.
House Democrats are split on the legislation. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the House’s antitrust committee, has been pushing for a vote, but the leadership has so far resisted, saying it would divide the caucus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has enlisted Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a Big Tech ally, to work with Cicilline to see if they can reach a compromise that can pass the House.
CASH FOR KYIV
Ukraine supplemental is expected this week
A new package of military and economic assistance for Ukraine – promised by President Joe Biden – is expected to be unveiled this week, although when that will happen is still unclear. It won’t be today, that seems certain.
White House officials – in consultation with the State Department, Pentagon and other agencies – are still putting together the request, so there’s not a price tag yet either. The last Ukraine aid package was nearly $14 billion.
The Ukrainian government says it needs $7 billion per month in aid to help stave off Russian attacks in the two-month old war and prop up its faltering economy.
The real question on Capitol Hill is how this legislation will get through Congress. Democrats may again try pairing the Ukraine money with long-stalled Covid prep funding. That effort stalled before the Easter recess due to an unrelated fight over using Title 42 public health authority to block asylum claims as the U.S.-Mexico border. The issue has only gotten more politically toxic since then, so it’s hard to see how this will be resolved right now. There’s clearly broad bipartisan, bicameral support for Ukraine assistance, while the White House is insisting it needs an additional $10 billion-plus for Covid.
“I think [Democrats are] gonna try and kind of, you know, just kind of get them all convoluted,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune told us Monday evening of a Ukraine-Covid package. “But I think those ought to be those separate conversations, separate votes.”
→ Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is fundraising for Jennifer Strahan, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) primary opponent. It’s not everyday you see a GOP senator from Louisiana getting involved against an incumbent in a Republican House primary in Georgia. But Cassidy, who voted to convict former President Donald Trump following his second impeachment trial, has been somewhat outspoken in his criticism of what he considers harmful factions in the party. Here’s the flier.
→ Ohio University has signed up Van Scoyoc Associates to lobby on “[h]igher Education related issues and initiatives.” One of the lobbyists on the account is Jennifer LaTourette, the widow of former Ohio Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette.
10:15 a.m.: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will get their daily briefing.
2 p.m.: Senate Republicans and Democrats will brief after their party lunches.
3 p.m.: Jen Psaki and Ashish Jha, the administration’s Covid coordinator, will brief on Covid–19.
→ “Behind Austin’s Call for a ‘Weakened’ Russia, Hints of a Shift,” by David Sanger
→ “‘Putin never imagined’ rally of support for Ukraine, Austin tells military leaders,” by Amy Cheng, Annabelle Timsit, Ellen Francis, Bryan Pietsch and Rachel Pannett
→ “Boeing Aims for Defense Buildup,” by Doug Cameron
→ “Putin gets what he didn’t want: Ukraine army closer to West,” by Robert Burns
→ “Top Russian diplomat warns Ukraine against provoking WWIII,” by David Keyton in Kyiv and Jon Gambrell in Lviv
→ “Courts could short-circuit Democrats’ border battle with Biden,” by Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
→ “Dr. Oz: ‘We cannot move on’ from the 2020 election,” by Holly Otterbein
Crucial Capitol Hill news AM, Midday, and PM—5 times a week
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