Committee Cliff Notes: Weekly Recap – Week of May 15, 2023
Washington, May 19, 2023
Here’s a recap of key moments from House Republican committees during the week:
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Forestry held a hearing called "To Review the National Forest System: Supporting Forest Health and Confronting the Wildfire Crisis." This hearing focused on Title VIII of the Farm Bill, the Forestry Title and to receive testimony from the U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore as well as to discuss current issues related to the U.S. Forest Service and non-Federal forests.
Members were able to ask Chief Moore many questions related to fire suppression, use of fire retardant, mitigating catastrophic wildfires, and more. Members had so much to ask, there were ultimately three rounds of questions for the forest service chief.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry held a hearing called “A Review of Animal Agriculture Stakeholder Priorities.” This hearing was an opportunity for Members to hear directly from representatives of the livestock, poultry, and processing sectors about the most pressing issues they face—from price trends and cost of production to regulatory matters and animal health concerns—as well as any priorities they would like to share for the 118th Congress ahead of Farm Bill consideration and potential reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program.
The livestock and protein processing sectors are no strangers to unwarranted regulatory assault. In January, President Biden and his progressive pals like Elizabeth Warren, falsely accused meat packers of conspiring to fatten their profits at the expense of consumers. It turns out the president was simply wrong, and Members brought the receipt, including a recent WSJ editorial proving Biden wrong and submitted it into the record.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies held a markup on the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2024 bill.
This bill honors our commitment to veterans by fully funding veterans’ health care programs and supports a strong national security by providing nearly $1 billion above the Budget Request for military construction, focusing investments in the Pacific theater, barracks, and other quality-of-life projects.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch held a markup on the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2024 bill. This bill ensures Congress remains open and working for the American people and maintains funding to committees of the House of Representatives so it can hold the Biden Administration accountable by conducting vigorous oversight of the Executive Branch.
On Thursday, May 18, the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies held a markup on the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2024 bill. This bill supports our rural communities, strengthens our national security and food supply, reins in wasteful Washington spending and bureaucracy, and protects the lives of unborn children.
On Thursday, May 18, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a markup on the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2024 bill. The bill secures our southwest border, removes dangerous criminals, counters China, bolsters our national security.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Committee on Armed Services held a full committee hearing titled "Member Day" to receive testimony from members of Congress on their national defense priorities for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24).
Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) wrote an op-ed in Foreign Policy detailing how allies in Eastern Europe have become the new backbone of NATO. In the piece Chairman Rogers wrote, “When certain countries step up to meet the threat, as Poland has, the United States should take note and reorient its partnerships within the alliance toward those whose behaviors are most aligned with its strategic goals.” Read the piece here.
Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) called out the Biden administration for continuing to send data on U.S. nuclear forces to Russia, even though Russia has stopped sending data. In the statement, Chairman Rogers said, “Sharing data on our nuclear forces with Russia is idiotic and puts our national security at risk. The administration must impose costs on Russia for its noncompliance and take prudent steps to prepare for the possibility of continued Russian arms control violations.”
With the debt ceiling deadline fast approaching, this week, House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington worked with House leadership to encourage President Biden to engage in meaningful negotiations about the spending reforms outlined in the Limit, Save, Grow Act. He amplified the message that Americans across this great nation have had to tighten their belts and adjust their spending habits, and our government needs to do the same.
Education and Workforce
On Tuesday, May 16, the Committee on Education and the Workforce held a full committee hearing called “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Department of Education." With generational learning loss, seismic drops in test scores, foreign adversaries influencing American schools, and illegal mass debt cancellation for the wealthy as his track record, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona had the audacity to defend the Department’s request for billions more in taxpayer money.
Energy and Commerce
On Tuesday, May 16, the Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee held a markup on the following legislation:
On Wednesday, May 17, the Health Subcommittee held a markup to lower health care costs and expand access to care. Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said in the markup, “The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to plow the hard ground on the most important issues before us as a nation, and that certainly includes making sure people can find the care they need at a price they can afford.”
On Wednesday, May 17, Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a markup to advance bills that will help streamline the permitting process and deploy broadband faster and more effectively.
Note: Many of the bills originally noticed were included in an Amendment in Nature of the Substitute to H.R. 3291, the American Broadband Deployment Act.
On Tuesday, May 16, Chairman McHenry (NC-10) joined Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business to talk House Republicans’ efforts to get America’s fiscal house in order amid ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. Chairman McHenry also discussed recent bank failures ahead of the week’s hearings to conduct oversight of the regional bank CEOs and federal and state regulators.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Financial Services Committee held a full committee hearing called "Oversight of Prudential Regulators" to conduct oversight of the prudential regulators following recent bank failures. Republican lawmakers, led by Chairman McHenry, pushed back on regulators’ self-assessments of their responses to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank while pushing for greater transparency and accountability and highlighting the role of Democrat-induced inflation in banking sector turmoil.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittees on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a joint hearing titled “Continued Oversight Over Regional Bank Failures” to continue our oversight of regional bank failures. Lawmakers, questioned two panels of witnesses, including former executives from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Signature Bank, and First Republic Bank, as well as state-level regulators that oversaw the failed institutions, to examine the ways in which both regulators and bank management failed to identify the economic conditions and balance sheet issues that caused the collapses and correct course.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing entitled “The Current Mortgage Market: Undermining Housing Affordability with Politics.” Republicans, led by Chairman Warren Davidson (OH-08), emphasized the need for affordable housing in America and highlighted existing Administration policies that have thus far proved prohibitive in accomplishing this, including the FHFA’s changes to the LLPA structure that act as a tax on creditworthy homebuyers to subsidize the riskier loans of those who may have lower credit scores.
On Thursday, May 18, the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion held a hearing called “Putting the ‘Stable’ in ‘Stablecoins:’ How Legislation Will Help Stablecoins Achieve Their Promise.” Republicans, led by Chairman French Hill (AR-02), emphasized the need for bipartisan cooperation to pass legislation to create a federal framework for the issuance of stablecoins that protects consumers, promotes the U.S. dollar, and allows payments innovation to occur in the U.S.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a full committee markup on the following legislation:
On Wednesday, May 17, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a full committee hearing called "The State Of American Influence In 2023: Great Power Competition And Persistent Crises In An Era Of Budget Constraints." USAID Administrator Samantha Power joined the committee to discuss the Biden Administration's 2024 Fiscal Year USAID Budget that has misplaced priorities and remains ineffective at advancing strategic U.S. interests. In an era of great power competition and budget constraints, it is critical USAID has a cohesive strategy to grow America’s soft influence while using U.S. taxpayer money as effectively and efficiently as possible.
On Thursday, May 18, the Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific held a hearing called "Standing United Against the People’s Republic of China’s Economic Aggression and Predatory Practices." Key witnesses joined the Indo-Pacific subcommittee to discuss the CCP’s economic aggression and predatory practices related to espionage, intellectual property theft, and other tactics aimed at advancing its global economic, technological, and military objectives. The U.S. cannot afford to underestimate the CCP as they continue to expand their malign influence – we must focus our efforts on working with allies and partners to both build our resiliency and counter CCP economic coercion.
Other committee activity to make note of:
Chairman McCaul and members of the committee hosted a roundtable discussing the challenges facing women and girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. The members heard from former Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani, former Afghan diplomat Hadeia Amiry, and former Kabul Deputy Governor Hanifa Girowal.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology held a joint hearing entitled, “Protecting the Homeland: An Examination of Federal Efforts to Support State and Local Law Enforcement.” In the hearing, Members honored National Police Week and heard directly from law enforcement on the challenges they face every day amid rising crime in cities across America, including a porous Southwest border, anti-police rhetoric and violence, soft-on-crime policies, and hurdles to community policing and information sharing.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability will hold a hearing entitled, “'Mostly Peaceful’: Countering Left-Wing Organized Violence.” In the hearing, witnesses Riley Gaines shared her experience with Left-Wing violence while speaking at a university with Members and Julio Rosas shared his firsthand reporting on Left-Wing violence while reporting on the violent protests of 2020.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Committee on Homeland Security held a markup on the following legislation:
On Tuesday, May 16, the Committee on House Administration held a full committee hearing titled, “Looking Ahead Series: Oversight of the United States Capitol Police.” This hearing with Capitol Police Chief Manger focused on depoliticizing Capitol security by restoring accountability, transparency, professionalism, and resilience to the department through proper oversight.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
On Monday, May 15, Special Counsel John Durham issued his report, which strongly criticized the FBI's handling of its investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner issued the following statement in response:
On Wednesday, May 17, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released an unclassified transcript containing the testimony of officials from the National Archives and Records Administration that took place in March.
Chairman Turner emphasized that Congress needs to establish a clear chain of custody for outgoing presidents, lawmakers, and senior government officials who handle classified material.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government held a hearing called "Revisiting the Implications of the FACE Act," to examine recent attacks on pregnancy centers, pro-life facilities, and the Biden Administration's use of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing called "Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: Part I - Interoperability of AI and Copyright Law," to examine the intersection of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology and copyright law.
On Thursday, May 18, The Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing to hear from three FBI whistleblowers. The hearing examined abuses seen at the Bureau and discussed how the FBI has retaliated against whistleblowers.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing titled “Examining the President’s FY 2024 Budget for the Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement.”
The FY 2024 budget request for the BLM includes $1.7 billion for its multiple use and sustained yield mandate. However, instead of following this mandate, the agency has moved towards preservationist policies that severely limit domestic energy and mineral production and exacerbate other crises like wildfires. Also, the president’s budget request does not explain how BLM will address the permitting backlogs for oil and gas drilling permits, which stood at 5075 pending permits in the latest published report at the end of January. The hearing was an opportunity for committee members to conduct oversight of this concerning deviation from the agency's stated responsibilities and learn more about how these funds are being spent.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held an oversight hearing titled “Examining the Challenges Facing Forest Management, Wildfire Suppression, and Wildland Firefighters Ahead of the 2023 Wildfire Year." Despite billions of dollars in new funding, the cost and complexity of environmental laws and attacks from frivolous litigants continually handcuff federal land managers. Wildland firefighters face a multitude of challenges, including increasingly unwinnable on-the-ground conditions.The goal of the hearing was to determine and discuss new innovative solutions to the wildfire crisis.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held an oversight hearing titled “Preserving U.S. Interests in the Indo-Pacific: Examining How U.S. Engagement Counters Chinese Influence in the Region.” The U.S. also has a significant military interest in the region, including military bases and installations in its territories and the FAS. Renewed and sustained U.S. engagement with the FAS is critical in deterring Chinese influence and protecting U.S. interests in the region. Today's hearing was an opportunity for committee members to learn more about recent attempts at Chinese influence in the region and further frame the future of the U.S. relationships in the Indo-Pacific.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Natural Resources Committee held a full committee markup on the following legislation:
Oversight and Accountability
On Tuesday, May 16, the Committee on Oversight and Accountability held a full committee hearing called “Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part II.”
At the hearing, members highlighted that the Committee remains committed to fulfilling its constitutional duty to conduct oversight of Washington, D.C. and will work with local officials to ensure a capital that is safe and prosperous for residents and visitors. Members emphasized that soft-on-crime policies pushed by the D.C. Council have left the District of Columbia suffering from unchecked, rising crime and a Metropolitan Police Department in desperate need of resources and funding. In addition, members slammed U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves for failing to prosecute 67% of arrests in the District in Fiscal Year 2022. Members also noted that maximum federal telework has created huge financial strains on the nation’s capital and stressed the importance of the federal workforce returning to the office. Members concluded that Congress and District leaders can continue to work together to achieve meaningful progress on the critical issues facing our capital city.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing called “Like Fire Through Dry Grass: Nursing Home Mortality & COVID-19 Policies.”
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce held a hearing called "Tracking the Postal Service: An Update on the Delivering for America Plan" to receive updates from United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on the United States Postal Service’s finances, performance, and efforts to modernize. Oversight Committee members asked for updates and brought transparency to the Postal Service’s ongoing improvements to ensure that it continues to efficiently serve the American people.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs held a hearing called "Driving Bad Policy: Examining EPA’s Tailpipe Emissions Rules and the Realities of a Rapid Electric Vehicle Transition." Subcommittee members discussed with witnesses how the EPA’s proposed rules constitute a radical and unrealistic shift in the automotive and transportation industry at the direct expense of American consumers, the U.S. economy, and our national security interests. Subcommittee members also discussed the excuses used by the EPA for not allowing two officials to testify before the subcommittee, emphasizing that EPA is not—nor should it want to be— immune to congressional oversight. Subcommittee Chairman Fallon and Chairman Comer sent a letter demanding the EPA appear for a hearing in June.
House Republicans proudly support law and order and stand with law enforcement. As our nation came together to honor the brave men and women who wear the badge for National Police Week, the House Rules Committee met to consider the POLICE Act of 2023 (H.R. 2492), the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Service Weapon Purchase Act (H.R. 3091), and H. Con. Res. 40, a resolution expressing support for local law enforcement officers and condemning efforts to defund or dismantle local law enforcement agencies.
Chairman Cole and Rules members discussed how the brave men and women of law enforcement have devoted their lives to keeping our communities and families safe. These guardians stand on the front lines to protect our citizens and uphold law and order. It’s in their honor—and for all who uphold the badge—that the representatives highlighted how each measure supports our officers. Members also condemned the dangerous anti-police rhetoric and agenda pushed by the progressive Democrats. The “defund the police” efforts and soft-on-crime policies of the radical left have helped fuel the skyrocketing rise in crime across the country. Those who serve as our front line of defense against crime deserve our gratitude. As the committee took action on the rule, they paid tribute to our heroes in blue and honored the memory of officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party
On Wednesday, May 17, the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party held a hearing called “Leveling the Playing Field: How to Counter the CCP’s Economic Aggression” on the CCP's economic warfare, including their state-led, market-distorting policies, forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and exploitation of U.S. capital markets. Beyond strong policy proposals to deter the CCP's economic aggression, testimony also focused on the importance of American innovation.
"There’s been a lot of hand wringing in the media about what to call our new economic approach to China….Call it whatever the heck you want, but let’s stop admiring the problem, and actually get down to solutions,” Chairman Mike Gallagher said in his opening statement .
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the Chinese Communist Party has been waging an economic war against the U.S. for decades… Their entire economic policy is designed to be an integral part of their overall strategy of global dominance," Fmr. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in his testimony.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Committee on Small Business held a full committee hearing titled “Taking on More Risk: Examining the SBA’s Changes to the 7(a) Lending Program Part II.”
At Wednesday’s full committee hearing, the House Committee on Small Business discussed the troubling changes the Small Business Administration is making to their flagship 7(a) Lending Program, hearing directly from the private sector. These changes, which have bipartisan concern, will expand the program, jeopardizing its solvency and risking taxpayer money and potentially higher fees for businesses if too many risky loans go bad. The SBA neither has the capacity nor track record to keep up with the increased loan volume or to protect against loan fraud.
Transportation and Infrastructure
On Tuesday, May 16, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing called “The Next Fifty Years of the Clean Water Act: Examining the Law and Infrastructure Project Completion.” Members of the Subcommittee, water industry representatives, and state level stakeholders advocated for project streamlining reforms, and warned against how onerous federal regulations and permitting delays can cause further supply chain disruptions and prevent infrastructure projects from being completed in an efficient manner.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management will hold a hearing called “The Impacts of FEMA’s Strategic Plan on Disaster Preparedness and Response.” Subcommittee Republicans pressed FEMA’s Deputy Administrator over the Agency’s strategic plan, which prioritizes equity and climate change over actual disaster readiness and response, as well as FEMA’s role in responding to the crisis at our southern border.
Click here or on the image above to view Rep. Ezell's remarks.
Click here or on the image above to view Rep. D'Esposito's remarks.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee held an oversight hearing titled "Reviewing VA’s Implementation of the PACT Act."
This hearing was the first check in since VA employees began processing PACT Act claims on January 1, 2023. This specific hearing looked at VA’s progress deploying information technology updates needed to process PACT Act claims; timelines for hiring and training new claims processors; provision of training and guidance on processing PACT Act claims; accuracy of claims decisions; and, progress reducing the inventory of pending disability compensation claims. Chairman Luttrell discussed the urgency for clear and collaborative training and adjusting the National Work Queue so employees have the ability to learn from their mistakes. The first panel of VA witnesses emphasized the importance of taking a holistic approach to training and ensuring VA does all that it can to ensure veterans receive timely and accurate decisions. The second panel of representatives from veterans service organizations highlighted the importance of a collaborative and transparent approach between VA, Congress, and veterans stakeholder groups.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees held a joint oversight hearing titled "VHA Recruitment and Retention: Is Bureaucracy Holding Back a Quality Workforce?"
This joint oversight hearing examined VA’s workforce and the many bureaucratic processes that, at times, inhibit VA’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality staff. VA witnesses discussed the current practice requiring 83 steps that are required for VA to hire a clinician, a process that also is complicated by a lack of data and inefficient information technology tools. The subcommittees will continue to examine VA efforts to consolidate or eliminate some of these steps, without sacrificing quality. Members also heard from union and private sector witnesses who gave their perspectives on how recruitment and retention policies impact daily operations and compare to private sector workforce issues.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee held an oversight hearing titled "The Transition Assistance Program: Steps to Ensure Success for Servicemembers as they Enter Civilian Life."
This hearing was to examine the current state of the Transition Assistance Program across the armed services and determine what steps should be made to continue modernizing and reforming the program through legislation. Subcommittee Chairman Van Orden reviewed the recommendations from the GAO and pressed DoD on improvements to the Transition Assistance Program. The first panel of VA, DoD, Labor, and GAO discussed how the three federal agencies involved in TAP are meeting the needs of transitioning servicemembers. The second panel of veteran service organizations and private employers who assist veterans in finding employment discussed the need for improvement to the current TAP program and additional ways the federal government can assist servicemembers as they transition into civilian life.
Ways and Means
On Tuesday, May 16, the Committee on Ways and Means held a full committee hearing called “Health Care Price Transparency: A Patient’s Right to Know.”
Price transparency can lower costs and improve health outcomes for families, workers, and small businesses, witnesses testified at a Ways and Means Committee hearing on health care price transparency. Witnesses shared their firsthand experience of using price transparency to benefit patients seeking care or small businesses sponsoring insurance for their employees. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has thus far failed to fully enforce Trump-era price transparency rules, allowing hospitals to continue leaving cash-strapped patients in the dark on the cost of their care. To help patients, the Administration should fully enforce existing price transparency rules and Congress should look at more ways to empower patients to unleash price transparency through tools like modernized Health Savings Accounts to access quality, affordable health care.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Subcommittee on Health held a hearing called "Why Health Care is Unaffordable: Anticompetitive and Consolidated Markets."
Led by Chairman Vern Buchanan (FL-16), the hearing focused on the drivers of high health care costs in the United States, including anti-competitive and consolidated markets. The Subcommittee discussed topics ranging from major insurers acquiring pharmacy benefit managers to non-profit hospitals systems purchasing smaller hospitals and independent physician practices.