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DC Insight - 7/8/22

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Capitol Hill News

Senators urge airlines to address growing delays and cancellations
The Hill – June 29, 2022
As airlines continue to cancel hundreds of flights due to staff shortages ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, a group of senators is urging them to address scheduling issues. Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) wrote letters to 10 major domestic airlines on Wednesday requesting they provide data by mid-July to Congress about cancellations, delays and how many passengers received refunds or were rebooked.

Key Lawmaker: Digital Passport Only Way to Deter Crypto Use for Ransomware Attacks
NextGov – July 1, 2022
During a hearing that highlighted the dual-sided implications technology often creates for privacy and security, Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., promoted the idea of regulating cryptocurrency exchanges by implementing a digital passport, saying it’s the only way to make the industry less attractive to perpetrators of ransomware attacks and other transnational crime.

The lore of ‘CODELs’: How foreign travel helps Congress at home
Politico – Juy 5, 2022
On paper, CODELs allow lawmakers to travel abroad to meet with world leaders, diplomats and advocates on any number of national security topics. But in practice, lawmakers who join them spend tenfold the amount of time together than they do on the Hill each week while running between committees, staff meetings and votes. The rigid, often scripted nature of their typical day-to-day essentially disappears, allowing CODELs to function as a counterweight to domestic polarization.

Chipmakers and Congress Play a $52 Billion Game of Chicken
Washington Post – July 5, 2022
The global semiconductor industry has gone from imploring the US government to hand out corporate welfare, to threatening the cancellation of investments should the money not come through. They’re desperate moves that belie the tenuous economics upon which an American chip revival is being built, and Congress’s willingness to risk credibility to gain political points. The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act — the CHIPS Act — was passed as part of a national defense bill 18 months ago, but didn’t actually include funding. Separate bills — the Senate’s USICA and the House’s Competes Act — would appropriate funds for the measures outlined in CHIPS. But these two bills don’t match up, so lawmakers are trying to hash out a compromise that would get the money flowing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham plans to fight Georgia subpoena
Roll Call – July 6, 2022
Sen. Lindsey Graham intends to fight a subpoena for his testimony in a Georgia investigation over potential criminal interference in the state’s 2020 election, according to a statement from his attorneys. A special grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., wants the South Carolina Republican to testify about at least two December phone conversations he had with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Raffensperger’s staff following former President Donald Trump’s loss in 2020.

For chips and budget packages, Democrats face choices
Roll Call – July 6, 2022
After letting the Kentucky Republican’s comments sink in over the July Fourth holiday, we spoke to some veteran Washington hands about possible pathways for Democratic leaders to salvage both the competitiveness package and a skinnier version of their partisan budget reconciliation package. Getting both done before the August recess became more difficult after McConnell’s threat. However, there is another avenue for Democrats to have their cake and eat it too, if fraught with peril.

Dems' climate and tax agenda to consume Congress in July
Politico – July 7, 2022
Talks between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are beginning to yield concrete results on a potential climate, tax and prescription drugs package. Schumer told Senate Democrats recently that if he can reach a deal with Manchin, the bill could be on the floor as soon as this month, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

We can do more than we think without a Fed digital dollar
The Hill – July 8, 2022
Should the Federal Reserve issue a new central bank digital currency (CBDC)? A recent “white paper” issued by Rep. Jim Himes (D- Conn.) argues the answer is yes. It outlines the objectives and characteristics of the new Fed digital dollar Himes envisions authorizing in legislation yet to be introduced.

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s 2022 midterm forecast!
Republicans are favored to win the House, while the Senate is a toss-up. How can this be? The national environment doesn’t look good for Democrats, which is why we expect Republicans to make gains in the House — even though those gains might not be historic. But in the Senate, candidate quality matters a lot more, and this could prove to be a silver lining for Democrats. It’s a similar story in the 36 races for governor. Remember, though, we’re still four months away from Election Day, so there’s still plenty of time for things to change.

Defense News

Republicans scoff as Democrats try to close Gitmo again
The Hill – July 5, 2022
Democrats are reviving their efforts to shutter the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, but the push faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans are already writing it off as doomed. In the past month, House Democrats have advanced legislation seeking to close the facility in Cuba as part of a larger annual defense spending bill leaders are expected to bring to a vote in the full chamber, where the party holds narrow control, in the coming weeks.

Democrats pitch immigration issues on must-pass defense bill
Roll Call – July 6, 2022
House Democrats have filed a slew of immigration-related amendments to the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill, one of their last opportunities to pass new immigration policies before the midterm elections. Congress is fast approaching its scheduled August recess, followed by peak campaign season, so Democratic lawmakers only have a few more weeks in session to push their legislative priorities before they could lose control of either chamber in November.

Federal News

Supreme Court conservatives flex in term full of controversial cases
Roll Call – June 30, 2022
The Supreme Court ended its term with the conservative justices bending the law sharply rightward in a series of momentous decisions on abortion, gun rights, environmental regulations and religious rights that will reverberate for decades. The decisions represent triumphs for a conservative legal movement that has sought for decades to remake American law and found its moment in a high court with a bolstered 6-3 conservative tilt that took on issues long linked to Republican policies.

Department of Energy grants $14 million to track extreme weather and climate change
The Hill – July 8, 2022
As the nation continues to suffer the immediate ramifications of climate change, new funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will help experts improve understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere and better predict weather events. The $14 million was granted to 22 different projects which will tackle issues ranging from Arctic weather to cloud formation. Proposals were selected through a competitive peer review process under the Atmospheric System Research program, which is funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Shinzo Abe, former Japanese prime minister, assassinated during campaign speech
CNN World – July 8, 2022
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died on Friday after being shot while giving a campaign speech on a street in central Japan.The assassination of the former world leader in broad daylight has shocked a nation not used to gun violence and prompted an outpouring of support and condolences from the international community.

Healthcare News

HHS was asked to seek an ‘aggressive strategy’ on abortion by Biden, Becerra says
Politico – July 3, 2022
In an interview that aired Sunday morning, Becerra reiterated the administration’s commitment. “The president in his first announcement said that he was tasking us at HHS to take on a number of issues, including medication abortion. And so he has asked us to seek as aggressive a strategy as we can. But unlike the previous administration, we do intend to respect the law,” he said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election through various legal and not-so-legal stratagems, which were all eventually shut down by the courts.

Biden signs executive order aimed at safeguarding abortion rights
CNN – July 8, 2022
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at protecting abortion rights in response to the landmark decision by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The President said the order will safeguard access to abortion care and contraceptives, protect patient privacy and establish an interagency task force to use "every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive health care."

Higher Education News

Protections for Trans Athletes in Title IX Proposal Still Unknown
Inside Higher Ed – July 5, 2022
Last month the Biden administration proposed a new set of Title IX rules that would expand protections for transgender students in college. However, it still remains unclear how the department will address transgender students’ participation in athletics. The department will conduct a separate rule-making process that is expected to focus heavily on transgender students’ participation in sports.

Higher Ed Funding Package Advanced by House Committee
Inside Higher Ed – July 6, 2022
The House Appropriations Committee approved a funding plan on June 30 that would increase funding for the Education Department by 13 percent for fiscal year 2023. The budget plan would set the stage to fulfill Biden's proposal to expand the maximum Pell Grant by $2,175 to $8,670. It does this by providing an additional $500 increase to the discretionary funding for Pell Grant, the only portion of the funding that is controlled by the Appropriations Committee. In order to reach the president's goal, the House and Senate must increase mandatory funding through legislation to change the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Studying Medicine in a Post-Roe America
Inside Higher Ed – July 7, 2022
Medical students in states where abortion is criminalized are already facing restrictions to their education, with major implications for the future of reproductive health care.

Education Department Releases Proposed Regulations to Expand and Improve Targeted Relief Programs
U.S. Department of Education – July 6, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education released proposed regulations that would expand and improve the major student loan discharge programs authorized by the Higher Education Act. The regulations propose to alleviate student loan debt burdens for borrowers whose schools closed or lied to them, who are totally and permanently disabled, and for public service workers who have met their commitments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The regulations also propose stopping many instances of interest capitalization, which occur when unpaid interest is added to a borrower’s principal balance, increasing the total amount they owe. Finally, the regulations propose to give borrowers their day in court if they have disputes with their colleges.


Reviewed 2022-09-30