What’s Happening Wednesday on Capitol Hill?
April 26, 2023
WASHINGTON — Is that the sound of David Bowie’s “Ch-Ch-Changes” ringing in your ears?
One wouldn’t be surprised if your antenna was tuned to the Hill at around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
That’s when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and his Republican conference agreed to a series of changes to the GOP debt ceiling bill, called the Limit, Save, Grow Act, intended to appease conference members threatening to oppose it.
The bill, which President Joe Biden has already said he’d veto, is expected to arrive on the House floor as early as today. It’s not clear McCarthy has the votes to pass it.
Introduced last week, the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which would raise the debt limit through March 31, 2024, includes what McCarthy and his allies say would be $4.5 trillion in savings achieved largely through budget cuts for domestic programs and rolling back incentives, mainly earmarked for the clean energy space.
A number of Republicans have gone on record as being queasy about the 320-page bill’s climate and energy provisions, while others want more stringent requirements for the work requirements McCarthy is seeking to impose on federal social programs.
If all 213 House Democrats vote in opposition to the bill, the defection of just five Republicans could sink it, compromising McCarthy’s ability to negotiate with the White House and perhaps his speakership itself.
That’s why the talks that stretched into the night happened. After both McCarthy and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., vowed that no changes would be made to the bill, they had to turn tail to save face and scrounge every last vote they can ahead of the vote.
The amendment would still roll back many of the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, though the numbers have now been modified.
Set to go is $5 billion in grants planned to incent carbon emission reductions; $5 billion in loans intended to benefit energy infrastructure projects; $1.9 billion in grants to improve transportation access to neighborhoods; and $1 billion that was to foster the adoption of new building codes and energy-efficient construction.
When it comes to social welfare, new requirements that were a year from going into effect in the original bill will now be imposed in October of this year. This includes the new work requirements for those receiving help from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
This morning’s amendments also include a provision barring states, after September, from saving up unused exemptions under the SNAP food assistance program.
Finally, in an effort to appease Republican lawmakers in ethanol-producing swing states in the Midwest, McCarthy agreed to allow some tax credits slated for the butcher’s block to continue for renewable energy.
Specifically, tax breaks promised to those who have already made substantial investments to produce clean fuels will stay in place.
Also to remain in place are incentives earmarked to promote the production of biofuel, biodiesel and carbon emission sequestration.
What else is happening on Capitol Hill today?
The House Small Business subcommittee will hold a hearing on how “alternative” paths to student debt can help strengthen small businesses.
The House Oversight and Accountability select subcommittee will hold the latest in a series of hearings on COVID school closures, with testimony from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
The Committee on House Administration’s Modernization subcommittee will hold a hearing on the “Path Toward a More Modern and Effective Congressional Research Service.”
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on improving project reviews.
The Senate Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on the Small Business Administration’s implementation of final rules to expand access to capital.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the effects of increased migration on southern border communities.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will vote on the nomination of Julie Su to be the next secretary of Labor.
The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on health costs of climate change.