Committee Cliff Notes: Weekly Recap – Week of July 24, 2023
Washington, July 28, 2023
Here’s a recap of key moments from House Republican committees during the week:
On Thursday, July 27, the Agriculture Committee held a full committee markup on the following legislation:
This bill provides certainty on digital assets to market participants, fills regulatory gaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, bolsters American innovation, and brings needed customer protections to digital asset-related activities and intermediaries.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Quality of Life Panel held a roundtable with Military Service Organizations to discuss quality of life issues facing servicemembers and their families. Blue Star Families, Military Families Advisory Network, Military Officers Association of America, and National Military Families Association participated in the roundtable. The roundtable focused on issues involving childcare, healthcare, and housing.
Education and Workforce
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing called "Generational Learning Loss: How Pandemic School Closures Hurt Students." This hearing forced Democrats to face the music regarding their terrible record on COVID and school closures. Republicans reiterated that prolonged school closures came at great cost to America’s students: generational learning loss, poor mental health, and declines in lifetime earnings. Not surprising, the Democrat-invited witness was a teacher union activist appearing under the guise of being a parent.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing called "Lowering Costs and Increasing Value for Students, Institutions, and Taxpayers." One third of colleges leave students worse off than if they had never enrolled in the first place. This hearing was an opportunity to hold colleges accountable for exorbitant tuition prices and low-value degree programs.
Energy and Commerce
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing called "Stopping the Exploitation of Migrant Children: Oversight of HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement." Members questioned HHS Secretary Becerra about the ORR’s failure to protect unaccompanied migrant children, his failure to follow the law and the Constitution, and his failure to provide transparency for President Biden’s radical spending agenda.
As Chair Rodgers said, Secretary Becerra that HHS has “lost sight of its core mission.”
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce held a legislative hearing called "Self-Driving Vehicle Legislative Framework: Enhancing Safety, Improving Lives and Mobility, and Beating China." Draft legislation discussed:
On July 25, ahead of the week’s markup, Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee introduced four comprehensive bills to address the threats environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives pose to the American financial system. These measures represent the first step in Republican efforts to combat the ESG movement by restricting politically motivated, non-material disclosure mandates, reforming the proxy voting and shareholder proposal processes, increasing transparency for federal banking regulators, and limiting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) authority to regulate shareholder proposals. The bills introduced included:
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on Financial Services passed six pieces of legislation out of Committee—many of which received bipartisan support—that provide robust consumer protections and legislative clarity for the digital asset ecosystem, as well as protect our national security. Included among this legislation is the FIT for the 21st Century Act, an unprecedented joint effort to bring digital assets into the regulatory perimeter, a historic step for American innovation and consumer protection. The bills passed include:
On Wednesday, July 26, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a full committee markup on the following legislation:
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability held a hearing called "A Failure to Plan: Examining the Biden Administration’s Preparation for the Afghanistan Withdrawal." This hearing will examine the Biden administration’s planning for the unconditional U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the administration’s decision to close Bagram Airfield and to run the evacuation solely through Kabul airport. In addition, the members explored the administration's planning for worst case scenarios and its responses to indications of a rapid Taliban takeover.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific held a hearing called "Illicit IT: Bankrolling Kim Jong Un." The Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific heard testimony from non-government experts regarding North Korea’s use of cyber-enabled means to avoid sanctions and threaten U.S. national security. On the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice, this hearing spotlights the critical importance of the U.S.-Republic of Korea relationship and emerging security issues in the Indo-Pacific.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere held a hearing called "Colombia’s Descent to Socialism: Assessing Gustavo Petro’s Presidency." State and USAID officials testified before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to assess the presidency of Gustavo Petro in Colombia amid continuing security challenges in a new era of U.S.-Columbia relations. Examining President Petro’s shift in governance of Colombia toward the left and its impact on the bilateral relationship is important as Congress debates security assistance and foreign aid to Colombia.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement and Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence held a joint hearing entitled “The Real Cost of an Open Border: How Americans are Paying the Price.” Members examined the human cost of President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas’ Border crisis.
They heard from several witnesses, including a Texas rancher whose business and safety has been jeopardized by the open border, and a Texas woman who tragically lost her mother and daughter to a human smuggler who struck their vehicle during a high-speed chase.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a joint hearing titled, “Oversight of the Capitol Police Board,” marking the first time in decades the U.S. Capitol Police Board has testified before its authorizing committees. The hearing highlighted the need for reform of the Board in order to bring greater transparency, accountability, and depoliticization to Capitol security. It also marked CHA’s 20th hearing this Congress, setting a modern day record for the committee.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing called "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security," to examine the agency's operational failures, the unprecedented border crisis, and the abandonment of immigration enforcement under Secretary Mayorkas.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government will hold a hearing called "The Dangers and Due Process Violations of 'Gender-Affirming Care' for Children," to examine and expose how children are being coerced by adults in positions of authority into life-altering and medically questionable gender transition procedures without full understanding of the meaning or impact.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance will hold a hearing called "Oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration," to examine the administration's operations, including its handling of America's unprecedented fentanyl and opioid crisis.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee markup on the following bills:
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing titled “Safeguarding American Jobs and Economic Growth: Examining the Future of the Offshore Leasing Program.” The Department of the Interior is more than a year overdue in issuing a new five-year program for offshore oil and natural gas leasing. This delay not only jeopardizes energy investment and numerous American industries but also allows our adversaries to take the lead in global energy production. The delay in completing the five-year program and holding lease sales has left Congress, industry and taxpayers in the dark. This hearing was an opportunity for committee members to raise questions about the administration's lack of action and hear from local community members and stakeholders who are most adversely affected by this failure.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a legislative hearing on the following bills:
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing titled "Examining Barriers to Access: Ongoing Visitor Experience Issues at America’s National Parks." Mismanagement of America’s National Park System harms the economies of rural and gateway communities, restricts access and recreational opportunities, and prohibits desperately needed management of our overgrown, diseased and dying public lands. Despite historic levels of investment in the National Park Service by Congress, the NPS has failed to reduce its deferred maintenance (DM) backlog and develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent the DM backlog from continuing to increase. This hearing was an opportunity for committee members to ask the NPS to answer directly for these failures and address their concerns.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held a legislative hearing on the following bill:
Oversight and Accountability
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs held a hearing called “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena: Implications on National Security, Public Safety, and Government Transparency.” Subcommittee members discussed with witnesses the lack transparency and proper reporting mechanisms within federal agencies for air crew to report Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) interactions. Subcommittee members also discussed how pilots who report UAP encounters have faced harsh retaliation both professionally and personally, leading to a lack of desire to report UAP encounters and creating gaps in national security intelligence gathering.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation held a hearing called “Getting Nowhere: DoD’s Failure to Replace the Defense Travel System.” Subcommittee members discussed how the Department of Defense (DOD) recently abandoned a years-long effort to replace its archaic Defense Travel System (DTS), which processes billions of dollars annually in travel payments for DOD civilians and servicemembers – hundreds of millions of which are improperly paid. Subcommittee members noted that DOD’s failure to replace its aging system bodes ill for DOD’s ability to effectively manage its finances and information technology going forward. Members on both sides of the aisle also blasted Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros – who decided to abandon the replacement effort – for failing to appear before the Subcommittee.
On Thursday, July 27, the Committee on Oversight and Accountability held a full committee hearing called “Oversight and Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.” At the hearing, members emphasized that fentanyl and other illicit drugs are flowing into America’s communities at a rapid pace and overdose deaths remain historically high. In addition, members noted the Biden Administration’s radical border policies that have depleted resources at the southern border and stimulated drug cartel operations. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Rahul Gupta, who leads and coordinates the nation’s drug control policy, highlighted ongoing efforts to combat this drug overdose crisis and steps the agency continues to take to respond to emerging threats.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held a hearing called “Hemp in the Modern World: The Yearslong Wait for FDA Action.” Members discussed the failures of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate hemp products. Members urged the FDA to use its existing authority to do its job to regulate hemp-derived products so that Americans can be confident in the safety and efficacy of products they purchase.
On Thursday, July 27, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing called “Because I Said So: Examining the Science and Impact of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates.” Members evaluated the harmful effects of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates and cautioned against using blanket mandates without regard for prior immunity or the individual’s health in the future.
The House Rules Committee met this week to consider the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (H.R. 4366) and two joint resolutions disapproving of the Biden Administration's abuse of the Endangered Species Act (S.J. Res 9 and S.J. Res. 24). Chairman Cole and Rules members made clear that H.R. 4366 honors our commitment to those who have selflessly served America in uniform and supports a strong national security. It fully funds veteran health care, benefits, and service programs. The legislation also provides funding for military construction—which will support military housing and quality of life projects for military families—above the President’s budget request. With S.J. Res 9 and S.J. Res 24, the representatives addressed the Biden White House’s continued pursuit of heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all requirements from Washington that hurt American farmers, ranchers, and other landowners. House Republicans will continue to fight onerous regulations and administrative overreach.
Science, Space, and Technology
On Wednesday, July 26, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing called "Unearthing Innovation: The Future of Subsurface Science and Technology in the United States." During the hearing, witnesses from the Department of Energy, academia, and the private sector, discussed the status of U.S. subsurface science and technology.
Subsurface energy resources have the capability to provide all Americans with clean baseload power and secure energy storage for generations to come. A strong understanding of subsurface systems is essential, not only for harnessing these resources, but also for expanding our clean energy portfolio, sustaining critical domestic supply chains, and securing the storage of use products like carbon dioxide and nuclear waste.
On Thursday, July 27, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology passed the following six bills at a full committee markup:
Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party
On Wednesday, July 26, the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party held a hearing called "Commanding Heights: Ensuring U.S. Leadership in the Critical and Emerging Technologies of the 21st Century." Following years of the CCP’s annual $300-600 billion theft of US intellectual property, the House Select Committee welcomed Co-Founder of Lux Capital, Josh Wolfe, Former Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Bill Evanina, and Senior Fellow of Emerging Technology at the German Marshall Fund, Lindsay Gorman, to recommend targeted defensive measures and ensure the US wins the race for critical and emerging technologies in the 21st century.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on Small Business held a full committee hearing called "Rural Entrepreneurship: Examining the Challenges and State of Rural Small Businesses." In this hearing, Members examined the challenges rural entrepreneurs are facing, and how the federal government’s policies are harming small business owners rather than helping them.
Transportation and Infrastructure
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing called "Review of the Recapitalization of the United States Coast Guard Surface, Air, IT, and Shoreside Assets." The Committee approved a number of measures within its jurisdiction, including H.R. 1752, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, legislation to remove hurdles for broadband projects under Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants, as well as bills offered by Reps. D’Esposito, Kean, and Yakym.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing called "Review of the Recapitalization of the United States Coast Guard Surface, Air, IT, and Shoreside Assets." Chairman Daniel Webster led the Subcommittee in examining the Coast Guard’s effort to recapitalize its surface, air, IT, and shoreside assets.
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a full committee markup on the following legislation. See the press release here.
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held an oversight hearing titled: “VA Disability Exams: Are Veterans Receiving Quality Services?” The DAMA subcommittee held an oversight hearing to examine VA's management and oversight of the disability exams program. VA, GAO, and IG testified in front of the committee to discuss the findings and recommendations of the reports as well as VA's progress in implementing the recommendations. Subcommittee Chairman Luttrell pressed VA on the fact that lack of consistent management and planning has been a consistent theme of IG reports and they needed to do better. The subcommittee applauded VA's efforts at making these exams more accessible to rural veterans but emphasized the need for continued improvement on production and working down the backlog especially as more veterans are applying for PACT Act benefits.
Ways and Means
On Wednesday, July 26, the Committee on Ways and Means held a full committee markup to consider H.R. 4822, the Health Care Price Transparency Act (Smith) and H.R. 3284, the Payers and Providers COMPETE Act (Burgess).
On Thursday, July 27, the Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing called "The Employee Retention Tax Credit Experience: Confusion, Delays, and Fraud." The hearing examined the fraud and abuse in the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), a COVID-era benefit to help businesses keep Americans on payroll during government-mandated lockdowns. Witnesses highlighted that due to confusing and changing IRS rule and outdated processes, the agency still has almost 500,000 claims to process almost a year after President Biden declared the pandemic over. While legitimate claims sometimes wait months to be processed, fraud is so rampant in the program the IRS put the ERTC on its “Dirty Dozen” scam list this year.