Committee Cliff Notes: Weekly Recap – September 25, 2023
Washington, September 29, 2023
Here’s a recap of key moments from House Republican committees during the week:
On Wednesday, September 27, the Quality of Life Panel held a hearing on the current state of unaccompanied military housing. The hearing comes a week after a GAO report detailed the disturbing conditions of unaccompanied housing for junior servicemembers. Members sought answers from Department of Defense officials on what will be done to fix the disgraceful housing conditions our servicemembers are being subjected to.
On Thursday, September 28, the Committee on Armed Services held a full committee hearing on President Biden’s political manipulation of the Space Command permanent basing process. In his opening statement, Chairman Rogers said, “We need to demonstrate to the American people that preparedness and not politics determines important investments like this.”
Education and Workforce
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing called "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration." Committee Republicans used the hearing to conduct oversight of OSHA—the agency tasked with ensuring the nation’s workers have safe and healthy workplaces. Despite its underwhelming record and burdensome policies, OSHA is clamoring for a 17 percent budget bump (while the rest of America’s budgets have been cut under Biden’s real wage drops). Members slammed OSHA for pushing a vaccine mandate despite being told it was illegal by the Supreme Court. Members also slammed OSHA’s policy of allowing union representatives to inspect job sites, even if they are non-union worksites.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing called "How SCOTUS's Decision on Race-based Admissions is Shaping University Policies." Subcommittee Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT) led the hearing by condemning the old race-based admissions regime, saying: “Through decades of demeaning messages, our country has accepted that black Americans are overall incapable of intellectually competing against white Americans through merit. Affirmative action has been the Trojan Horse for that message. Again, we see the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Committee members echoed this sentiment and used the hearing to highlight the importance of charting a path forward for a better and brighter future, absent racial discrimination.
Energy and Commerce
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials held a legislative hearing called "Revitalizing America Through the Reauthorization of the Brownfields Program." This hearing focused on reauthorizing the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which has taken development pressure off undeveloped land, helped increase local tax bases, and created jobs in communities across the country. The following legislation was discussed:
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security held a hearing called "Powering America's Economy, Security, and Our Way of Life: Examining the State of Grid Reliability." Members focused on achieving and maintaining a well-managed, balanced, and secure electric grid, which is vital for a strong economy and our way of life. The hearing highlighted grid operators, who play a critical role in delivering reliable, affordable energy across the country. We also discussed how to enhance electric generation, improve siting and planning of electric infrastructure, and what Congress can do to improve the reliability and management of our grid.
On Tuesday, September 26, all Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler slamming the agency for its persistent failure to conduct thorough economic analysis or consider stakeholder feedback regarding its regulatory agenda. Lawmakers are demanding the SEC halt the finalization or implementation of interrelated rulemakings until their cumulative impacts are evaluated, and the public and market participants are given sufficient time to respond and comply with those new regulations.
On Wednesday, September 27, U.S. Congressman Mike Flood (R-NE), Congressmen Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Congressman French Hill (R-AR), and Congressman Wiley Nickel (D-NC) introduced the Uniform Treatment of Custodial Assets Act to overturn the SEC’s SAB 121, which would push legitimate digital asset activities out of regulated financial institutions where consumers are best protected. This bipartisan bill ensures certain assets, including digital assets, custodies by financial institutions are kept off-balance sheet so those assets are protected in the event of the custodian filing for bankruptcy.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Committee on Financial Services held a full committee hearing to conduct oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with testimony from Chairman Gary Gensler. Republicans bashed Chair Gensler for his reckless approach to rulemaking, lack of a capital formation agenda, crusade against the digital asset ecosystem, and unresponsiveness to Congressional oversight.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia held a hearing called "No Incentives for Terrorism: U.S. Implementation of the Taylor Force Act and Efforts to Stop ‘Pay to Slay’." Amid increasing Iran-backed terrorist violence in Israel and the West Bank, members heard expert testimony describing strategies for how the United States can further press the Palestinian Authority to end its grotesque practice of paying terrorists.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing called "Examining the Current U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relationship’." On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, conducted war games with the Chinese and Russian militaries – causing widespread frustration and concern among South Africans. This hearing examined the current state of the U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relationship in advance of Johannesburg hosting the AGOA forum in early November and Presidential elections scheduled for early 2024 – a major inflection point for the country’s future.
On Thursday, September 28, the Committee on Foreign Affairs held a full committee hearing called "Reclaiming Congress’s Article I Powers: Counterterrorism AUMF Reform." Congress exercises no power more solemn than committing our nation to war, and we owe it to our troops to repeal and replace these AUMF’s at the same time, so there’s no lapse in critical counterterrorism authorities. This hearing is an opportunity for the committee and the administration to publicly discuss issues related to repealing and replacing the 2001 (9/11) and 2002 (Iraq) AUMF’s with a new, updated counterterrorism AUMF.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific held a hearing called "Lasers and Water Cannons: Exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s Harassment in the South China Sea." Members gained insight from witnesses on Communist China’s militarization of structures in the South China Sea, their increasingly aggressive tactics deployed by China’s coast guard and maritime militia against our allies, and State discussed our general maritime strategy in the region. Congress must expand authorities for maritime domain awareness and law enforcement activities in the South China Sea, as well as highlight China’s unlawful behavior and expanding military footprint in these contested waters.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere held a hearing called "Communism on Our Doorstep: The Threat of China’s Malign Influence in Latin America." Members heard from witnesses from the State Department and USAID to discuss China’s robust presence in Latin America and the administration’s efforts to develop a strategy to compete with China in the Hemisphere. It must be of the utmost importance to monitor China’s influence in the Western Hemisphere to ensure the security and safety of the United States and our partners in the region.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence held a hearing entitled “The Future of Homeland Security: Addressing the Rise of Terrorism in Africa.” In the hearing, witnesses confirmed the terrorist threats fueled by regional instability, al-Qaeda and Islamic State-related terrorists, and anti-Western sentiment in Africa, and highlighted the importance of cooperation and engagement with partners and allies in the region to combat these threats.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee held a hearing entitled "Projecting Presence and Power in the Indo-Pacific: An Examination of the United States Coast Guard’s Contributions to Maritime Security." The Subcommittee discussed the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to U.S. national security interests and opportunities for us to operate more effectively in the region.
On Tuesday, September 26, Chairman Bryan Steil held a roundtable on Modernizing the U.S. Copyright Office to ensure it is operating effectively and in a modern capacity.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Modernization held a hearing titled “Legislative Branch Advancement: GAO Modernization.”
On Thursday, September 28, the House Administration Committee held a full committee markup. All measures were approved by bipartisan vote.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner and Ranking Member Jim Himes led a bipartisan trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chairman Turner and Ranking Member Himes were joined by Representatives Rick Crawford, Ami Bera, Darin LaHood, Brian Fitzpatrick, Austin Scott, Chrissy Houlahan, French Hill, and Mike Waltz. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about artificial intelligence and its impact on U.S. national security.
On Tuesday, September 26, the Judiciary Committee held a field hearing in Chicago, Illinois called "Victims of Violent Crime in Chicago," to examine how Chicago District Attorney Kim Foxx's pro-crime and anti-victim policies are leading to an increase in violent crime and a dangerous community for Chicago residents.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing called "Oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office," to examine the U.S. Copyright Office's (USCO) operations and the status of programs and reforms enacted in previous Congresses. The hearing also explored the USCO's efforts in areas such as artificial intelligence, music copyrights, and the right to repair.
On Thursday, September 28, the Judiciary Committee held a full committee markup session to consider the following legislation:
On Wednesday, September 27, the Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee oversight hearing titled “Destroying America’s Best Idea: Examining the Biden Administration’s Use of National Park Service Lands for Migrant Camps.” This hearing was a continuation of the committees oversight work on the usage of NPS land to house Migrants in NYC. The hearing featured multiple Democrat politicians from NY who were opposed to the idea as well as a representative from the park police, all of whom testified to the damages this decision would cause to the community in NYC.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held an legislative hearing on the following legislation:
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held an oversight hearing titled “Tribal Autonomy and Energy Development: Implementation of the Indian Tribal Energy Development & Self-Determination Act.” Congress in the past has worked to help tribes gain access to the energy resources on their land. However, there has been continued issues that have stopped tribes from being able to tap these resources. This hearing was a vital opportunity for members of Congress to hear from tribal and local leaders on the impacts of these laws, the struggles still facing tribes in their attempts to tap into resources and economic opportunities on tribal lands, and ways to improve the law to better support tribal autonomy into the future.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on the following bills:
Oversight and Accountability
On Tuesday, September 26, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic sent a letter requesting documents and a transcribed interview regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci’s potential movements to and from the CIA from the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs held a hearing called “Combating Ransomware Attacks.” Members asked witnesses about the increasing sophistication of ransomware attacks and the growing trend of attacks on industries and institutions across the United States. Members also spoke with victims of ransomware attacks about the economic and human costs of navigating through such an occurrence, as well as lessons learned and shared, so others might be better prepared to survive attacks by hackers attempting to access their sensitive systems.
On Thursday, September 28, the Committee on Oversight and Accountability held a full committee hearing called “The Basis for an Impeachment Inquiry of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.” At the hearing, witnesses testified that evidence uncovered has passed the threshold to open an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Joe Biden. While Democrat members engaged in political stunts, Republican members highlighted evidence, including financial records, emails, texts, and witness and whistleblower testimony, showing President Joe Biden lied to the American people about his knowledge and participation in his family’s corrupt international and domestic business schemes. Pursuant to House Rule X and the impeachment inquiry, the House Committees on Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways and Means will continue to follow the evidence to determine whether President Biden committed impeachable offenses under the U.S. Constitution.
Continuing their work to prioritize workable, full-year appropriations, the House Rules Committee advanced consideration of H.R. 4367, H.R. 4665, H.R. 4365, and H.R. 4368. Members reiterated the importance of both upholding the power of the purse and securing our border. They also considered H.R. 5692 to allow further valuable discussion on oversight and funds related to American dollars supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. It's called the People's House for a reason and every vote is an opportunity to represent the voices of Americans across the nation. That's exactly the point H.R. 5692 reiterates.
Science, Space, and Technology
On Wednesday, September 27, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a full committee hearing called "Science and Technology at the EPA." The Honorable Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), joined Science Committee Members to discuss and review the science and technology activities at the EPA and the use of science in the Agency's regulatory decision-making processes. As the EPA is making critical decisions that affect our health and safety, Members stressed the importance of scientific integrity and the Agency’s decisions being based on the best available science.
Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party
On Wednesday, September 27, Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee jointly wrote to Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley seeking Ford's immediate compliance with congressional investigations into its partnership with CATL.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Committee on Small Business held a full committee hearing called "Action Through Innovation: Private Sector Solutions to Recouping Stolen Pandemic Loan Funds." Members heard from witnesses how innovative private sector solutions can be implemented to claw back fraudulent EIDL and PPP loans stolen from the Small Business Administration. Members also emphasized the importance of getting this money back from fraudsters and holding them accountable.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Energy, and Supply Chains held a hearing called "Energy Independence: How Burdensome Regulations are Crushing Small Offshore Energy Producers." During the hearing, members heard how regulations are driving up the costs small energy producers face and highlighted how clean American oil is compared to other countries.
Transportation and Infrastructure
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing called "Clean Water Infrastructure Financing: State and Local Perspectives and Recent Developments." Chairman David Rouzer and members of the subcommittee questioned industry stakeholders about the need for wastewater infrastructure improvements, especially in rural communities, as well as the financial condition of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.
On Tuesday, September 26, the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization held an oversight hearing titled “Examining VA.gov." The Subcommittee examined a recent pattern problems with VA.gov, the Department’s primary self-service website, causing nearly 100,000 veterans’ benefits claims to be delayed or disrupted. Some such errors had been happening for years, undetected by VA. Members questioned the VA witnesses about their efforts to get to the bottom of the causes and extent of the website glitches and make all the impacted veterans whole. The VA witnesses acknowledged their failure to monitor problems with the website and contact veterans in a timely fashion. Chairman Rosendale emphasized that VA.gov is the front door to VA and veterans expect it to be reliable, while the Subcommittee expects VA to use the funding that has been provided to improve the website expeditiously.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held an oversight hearing titled “VA’s Fiduciary Program: Ensuring Veterans’ Benefits are Properly Managed.” The Subcommittee examined VA’s fiduciary program, which is meant to ensure that vulnerable veterans who are unable to manage their VA benefits are taken care of. The Subcommittee discussed holes in VA’s oversight of the fiduciary program, including VA’s failure to ensure that fiduciaries are timely appointed and are timely removed for fraud and misuse, and that misused funds are timely returned to beneficiaries. Senior officials from the Pension and Fiduciary Service Office, of the Veterans Benefits Administration, and from the Claims and Fiduciary Division, of the Office of Inspector General, testified. The VA witnesses described the Department’s efforts to correct oversight deficiencies and improve fiduciary accountability. The OIG witness provided evidence of VA’s lax oversight efforts and gave recommendations for how VA’s oversight may be improved. Chairman Luttrell and GOP Subcommittee members stressed the importance of accountability among VA leaders for deficiencies in VA oversight within the program, monitoring whether vulnerable veterans’ VA funds are being managed properly by fiduciaries, and ensuring that taxpayer dollars sent to deceased beneficiaries are timely and properly distributed where they need to go.
Ways and Means
On Thursday, September 28, Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) participated in the Oversight and Accountability Committee’s hearing on the basis of the impeachment inquiry of President Biden.
On Thursday, September 28, the Subcommittee on Work and Welfare held a hearing called "Modernizing Child Welfare to Protect Vulnerable Children." The Work & Welfare Subcommittee heard from child welfare program administrators about the best way to modernize Title IV-B, a federal child welfare program to help children in the foster care system. Witnesses testified about the challenges to the program, like supporting kinship care providers, elevating the role of courts, the caseworker crisis, and improving outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care.
On Thursday, September 28, the Committee on Ways and Means held a full committee markup for H.R. 5687 and H.R. 5688. Americans would have more opportunities to save for and afford health care costs under legislation approved this week by the House Ways and Means Committee that makes an existing health care financing tool, the health savings account (HSA), more accessible and useful for patients and families. The Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act of 2023 (H.R. 5688) and the HSA Modernization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5687) expand the eligibility of those wishing to establish and contribute to an HSA while addressing outdated bureaucratic barriers and red tape that have stood in the way of individuals realizing the full potential of these tax-advantaged accounts.