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The Latest: A Weekly Federal Update (02/14/22)



Upcoming Events & Activities

February 14th, 2021 - February 18th, 2021

All events in Eastern Standard Time


Monday, February 14th

Happy St. Valentine's Day


Tuesday, February 15th

10:00 AM - House Natural Resources Committee: Legislative hearing on “H.R. 2021 - the Environmental Justice For All Act”


11:00 AM - House Small Business Committee: Hearing on “The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act's Benefits for Small Businesses”


2:00 PM - House Ways & Means Committee: Hearing on "Examining the Economic Impact of Federal Infrastructure Investment"


2:00 PM - House Homeland Security Committee: Hearing on "Concealed Carry-Ons: Confronting the Surge in Firearms at TSA Checkpoints"


2:30 PM - Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee: Legislative hearing on H.R. 3462, S. 1617, and other bills


2:30 PM - House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis: Hearing on "Keeping the Lights On: Strategies for Grid Resilience & Reliability"


Wednesday, February 16th

10:00 AM - Senate Environment & Public Works Committee: Hearing on "The EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Challenges & Opportunities”


2:00 PM - House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee: Hearing on "FEMA Priorities for 2022: Stakeholder Perspectives"


2:00 PM - House Committee on House Administration: Hearing on "Big Data: Privacy Risks & Needed Reforms in the Public & Private Sectors"


2:30 PM - House Budget Committee: Hearing on “Why Congress Needs to Abolish the Debt Limit”


Thursday, February 17th

No meetings to report.


Friday, February 18th

No meetings to report.

 

Energy, Water & Environment

The latest from the House and Senate Committees on energy (infrastructure), WIFIA, wastewater management, environmental issues, interior, or environmental justice.

Legislation

H.R. 6643 - DRILL Now Act, To amend the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 with respect to certain regulatory actions related to hydraulic fracturing within the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Potomac River basins

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10) referred to Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

Date Introduced: February 8, 2022


H.R. 6662, To establish a grant program to facilitate electric vehicle sharing services operated at public housing projects

Sponsor: Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA-44) referred to Energy & Commerce Committee; Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


H.R. 6680, To establish the Integrated Blue Economy & Blue Energy Technologies Program, a Blue Economy Center of Excellence, to support research and development of blue energy technologies

Sponsor: Rep. (D-CA-18) referred to Small Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


H.R. 6692, To prohibit the obligation or expenditure of funds relating to the Climate Change Professionals Program and any other program, project, or activity relating to climate change of the Department of Homeland Security

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10) referred to Homeland Security Committee; Energy & Commerce Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


News

Associated Press: Biden Threatens Nord Stream 2 Pipeline If Russia Invades Ukraine

On February 7, 2022, President Biden warned that "there will be longer be Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine with tanks and troops."


Virginia Mercury: Bill Prohibiting Local Bans on Natural Gas Service Advances

Despite a hiccup last week, a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning natural gas is moving through the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. House Bill 1257, put forward by House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R-Scott), would forbid local governments in the Commonwealth of Virginia from approving any measure that would limit or prohibit consumers from using natural gas. Kilgore told the House Commerce and Energy Committee that the legislation is needed because the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a 2020 law championed by Democrats that committed Virginia’s electric grid to becoming carbon free by 2050, “improperly removed natural gas from the Virginia market.” Kilgore was the only Republican in the House to vote for the VCEA.

 

Transportation & Infrastructure

The latest from the House and Senate Committees on industrial and commercial mechanical insulation, cybersecurity, supply chains, port authority, metropolitan transit, or airport.

Legislation

H.R. 6688, To remove transit-oriented development projects as projects eligible for assistance under the transportation infrastructure finance and innovation program and the railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing program

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10) referred to Small Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


H.R. 6697, To establish an advisory group to encourage and foster collaborative efforts among individuals and entities engaged in disaster recovery relating to debris removal

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC-07) referred to Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


News

TechCrunch: FBI Warns BlackByte Ransomware is Targeting US Critical Infrastructure

On Friday, February 11, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation posted an alert warning that the ransomware gang had compromised multiple U.S. and foreign businesses, including “at least” three attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure, notably government facilities, financial services, and in food & agriculture. BlackByte is a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation that leases out its ransomware infrastructure to others in return for a percentage of the ransom proceeds. The gang emerged in July 2021 when it began exploiting software vulnerabilities to target corporate victims worldwide. While BlackByte had some initial success — security researchers tracked attacks against manufacturing, healthcare, and construction industries in the U.S., Europe, and Australia — the gang hit a rough patch months later when cybersecurity firm Trustwave released a free decryption tool that allowed BlackByte victims to recover their files for free. The group’s simplistic encryption techniques led some to believe that the ransomware was the work of amateurs; the ransomware downloaded and executed the same key to encrypt files in AES, rather than unique keys for each session.

 

Immigration & Detention

The latest from the House and Senate Committee on immigration, detention, homeland security, border security, asylum seekers, criminal justice reform, Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), U.S. Marshal Service (USMS), alternatives to detention programming, reentry programming, or Bureau of Prisons.

Legislation

H.R. 6621 - No taxpayer Funds for Illegal Immigrants Act, To prevent recipients of Federal funds from providing, or assisting in provision of, legal representations to aliens unlawfully present in the United States

Sponsor: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO-03) referred to Judiciary Committee; Oversight & Reform Committee

Date Introduced: February 7, 2022


H.R. 6628 - Close Biden's Open Border Act, To provide appropriations for a border wall and provide for a moratorium on certain other funding

Sponsor: Rep. Bob Good (D-VA-05) referred to Appropriations Committee; Foreign Affairs Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


H.R. 6648 - Secure America's Borders First Act, To prohibit the obligation or expenditure of military assistance to Ukraine until operational control of the United States-Mexico border is achieved

Sponsor: Rep. Matthew Rosendale, Sr. (R-MT-At Large) referred to Foreign Affairs Committee; Armed Services Committee

Date Introduced: February 8, 2022


H.R. 6653, To prohibit participation of persons convicted of certain felonies in programs of the Small Business Administration

Sponsor: Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24) referred to Small Business Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


H.R. 6667, To permit expungement of records of certain nonviolent criminal offenses

Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


H.R. 6693, To permit aliens seeking asylum to be eligible for employment in the United States

Sponsor: Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


News

Newsweek: Poll Shows Majority of Americans Dissatisfied With Amount of Immigration

58% of Americans said they are dissatisfied with the level of immigration coming into the United States, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday, February 14, 2022.The new survey's dissatisfaction level is an 8% increase from a similar poll taken by Gallup last year. Of those who said they are dissatisfied in the latest poll, 35% said they want immigration into the country to decrease, while 9% said they would like it to increase. 14% said they were dissatisfied with the level of immigration, but want it to stay at the same level. A November Gallup poll found only 31% of Americans approved of how he was handling immigration.

 

Public Health & Safety

The latest from House and Senate committees on health insurance, COVID-19 and testing, gun safety, Medicare & Medicaid, telehealth, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), CDC, FDA, or rural hospitals.

Legislation

H.R. 6625, To prohibit the Secretary of Health & Human Services from issuing guidance intended to restrict access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapies and other treatments

Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) referred to Energy & Commerce Committee

Date Introduced: February 7, 2022


H.R. 6639, To require adequate supervision before a juvenile can possess a firearm and to require the safe storage of firearms.

Sponsor: Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI-09) referred to Judiciary Committee; Education & Labor

Date Introduced: February 8, 2022


H.R. 6646 - Trafficking Reduction & Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, To prevent the illegal sale of firearms

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: February 8, 2022


H.R. 6676, To prohibit administering COVID-19 vaccines to minors without parental consent

Sponsor: Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


News

Palm Beach Post: 1 in 10 US COVID-19 Cases Were in Florida

Florida reported 122,428 new cases of coronavirus in the week ending Sunday, down 7% from the previous week. Then, 131,699 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 were reported. After dropping down to No. 37 for a couple of weeks, Florida ranked eighth among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows, up from 24th the week before.


Journal News: New York COVID-19 Cases Plummet 38% as Indoor Mask Mandate Lifted

New York's weekly tally of coronavirus cases dropped about 38% last week as Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the indoor mask mandate for businesses on Thursday. The state added 33,811 new cases in the week ending Sunday, down from the previous week's tally of 54,466 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. New York ranked 47th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

 

Finance & Federal Partnerships


The latest from House and Senate committees on taxation, retirement, small business, federal contracting, or monetary policy.

Legislation

H.R. 6644, To repeal the production tax credit & the investment tax credit

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10) referred to Ways & Means Committee

Date Introduced: February 8, 2022


H.R. 6650 - No Chinese Communist SURPRISE Parties Act, To require issuers filing annual reports with the Securities & Exchange Commission to disclose whether the issuers have connections with the Chinese Communist Party

Sponsor: Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22) referred to Financial Services Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


H.R. 6658, To make permanent certain provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affecting individuals, families, and small businesses

Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) referred to Ways & Means Committee

Date Introduced: February 9, 2022


H.R. 6674, To prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from requiring individual to submit biometric information or geolocation to access online services

Sponsor: Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) referred to Ways & Means Committee

Date Introduced: February 10, 2022


News

Politico: Bill to Ban Forced Arbitration in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases Goes to Biden

On February 10, the Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 4445, that would revise the way private companies handle sexual assault and harassment cases by doing away with agreements that force mediation between alleged victims and perpetrators to take place outside of the traditional judicial system. The House passed the measure on February 7th. H.R. 4445 blossomed out of the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017 but had a rocky road to enactment. Although many Republicans supported legislation scaling back arbitration agreements, some in the party were cautious about its implications for victims and the boost it would give to trial lawyers.

 

Special Reports


The latest from reports issued from the Office of Government Accountability, the Congressional Research Service, and others.
  • GAO: February 8, 2022 - COVID-19: Federal Telework Increased During the Pandemic, but More Reliable Data

  • GAO: February 9, 2022 - Critical Infrastructure Protection: Agencies Need to Assess Adoption of Cybersecurity Guidance

  • CRS: February 10, 2022 - Passenger Rail Expansion in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA)

  • CRS: February 11, 2022 - Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Air Pollution, & Climate Change