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The Latest: A Weekly Federal Update (1/17/22)

Upcoming Events & Activities

January 17th, 2021 - January 21st, 2021

All events in Eastern Standard Time

Monday, January 17th

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tuesday, January 18th

11:00 AM - Department of Energy, Better Buildings Initiative, Webinar: Classroom to Career: Advancement in Energy Efficiency Jobs

2:30 PM - Department of Environmental Protection, National PFAS Roadmap: Update for Tribes & Indigenious Peoples

Wednesday, January 19th

10:00 AM - Subcommittee on Legislative & Budget Process (Rules Committee), Hearing on "Using Budget Principles to Prepare for Future Pandemics and Other Disasters"

10:00 AM - Science, Space, & Technology Committee, Markup Hearing on H.R. 4270, H.R. 6291, and other bills

10:30 AM - Energy & Commerce Committee, Hearing on "Securing our Energy Infrastructure: Legislation to Enhance Pipeline Reliability"

2:00 PM - Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations (Committee on Homeland Security), Hearing on “Assessing the State of America’s Seaports”

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM - EPA Tools & Resources Webinar Series, Including a septic sensor challenge

Thursday, January 20th

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - FERC, Virtual Open Meeting

12:00 PM - Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources (Natural Resources Committee), Hearing on “What More Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Leasing Means for Achieving U.S. Climate Targets

2:00 PM - Subcommittee on Immigration & Citizenship (Judiciary Committee), Hearing on “For the Rule of Law, An Independent Immigration Court”

Friday, January 21st

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.


H.R. 6390, To make financial assistance under the Rural Energy for America program available with respect to certain EV supply equipment expenses

Sponsor: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) referred to Agriculture Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2021

Sponsor: Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona)

Date Introduced: January 12, 2021


Reuters: DOE Launches Staff Expansion for Clean Energy Corps

Because of flush funding from the IIJA (bipartisan infrastructure law), the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed on Thursday, January 13, that it will hire 1,000 employees to become part of a new Clean Energy Corps. The CEC will include the new workers and existing staff from more than a dozen agencies across the department to work on developing, demonstrating, and deploying solutions to climate change. The new workers are expected to work on issues such as improving efficiency of batteries to store energy from wind and solar farms and expanding capacity of transmission lines to take that power from rural areas to cities. The work is expected to support President Joe Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions up to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Press Release: Cotton, Kelly Introduce Bill to End Reliance on China for Rare-Earth Elements

Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) today introduced the Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act to protect America from the threat of rare-earth element supply disruptions, encourage domestic production of those elements, and reduce our reliance on China.

PoliticoPro: First 'responsibly sourced' gas filing at FERC draws producer pushback

A proposal in front of FERC aiming to propel sales of natural gas with lower methane emissions to help mitigate the effects of climate change is coming under fire from natural gas producers. The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company proposal seeks to encourage natural gas producers to trade and transport "responsibly sourced natural gas," meaning a third party certifies the producer has lowered the intensity of the potent greenhouse gas during production of the fuel and effectively monitors its system for emissions leaks, among other criteria.


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.


H.R. 6374, To implement the recommendations of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense with respect to mitigation of foreign suppliers in the pharmaceutical supply chain of the Department of Defense

Sponsor: Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06) referred to Armed Services Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2022


Reuters: White House Will Meet with Big Tech Execs

The White House will meet executives from leading tech firms, including Alphabet (owner of Google and YouTube), Apple, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Meta Platforms (owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp), and Oracle among some others. Government agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Commerce will also be in attendance. In December, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan sent a letter to the chief executives of tech firms after the discovery of a security vulnerability in open-source software called Log4j that organizations around the world use to log data in their applications, which he underscored that such open software is a "key national security concern" given it is broadly used and maintained by volunteers.


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.


H.R. 6375, To permit COPS grants to be used for the purpose of increasing the compensation and hiring of law enforcement officers

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC-07) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2022

H.R. 6378, To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to notify the Governor of a State prior to the date on which any alien without lawful status under the immigration laws is transported to, housed in, or resettled in such State

Sponsor: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL-05) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2022

H.R. 6403, To require the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to be appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate

Sponsor: Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA-12) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: January 13, 2022


Reuters: New U.S. Rule Lets Federal Inmates Earn Credits for Early Release

On Thursday, January 13, the U.S. Department of Justice finalized a new rule, prompted by the 2018 criminal justice reform law, the First Step Act, to allow inmates to earn 10 to 15 days of "time credits" shaved off their sentence for every 30 days of participation in certain programs or activities offered to them by the federal Bureau of Prisons. By earning those credits, they can qualify to be released early into halfway houses or home confinement. In some cases, inmates can also earn up to 12 months of credit that would be applied toward supervised release. The new rule will apply retroactively, allowing inmates to earn credits from prior participation in programs since December 21, 2018, when the First Step Act became law.


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.


S. 3440 - Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act, To require the safe storage of firearms

Sponsor: Sen. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08) referred to Judiciary Committee

Date Introduced: January 10, 2022

H.R. 6372 - Tribal Medical Supplies Stockpile Act, To ensure that facilities of the Indian Health Service, facilities operated by an Indian tribe, tribal organization, or inter-tribal consortium, and facilities operated by an urban Indian organization receive items from the strategic national stockpile and qualified pandemic or epidemic products directly from the Department of Health & Human Services

Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) referred to Energy & Commerce Committee

Date Introduced: January 11, 2022

H.R. 6377, To direct the Secretary of Health & Human Services to purchase and make available for free rapid tests for SARS-COVID-19-2

Sponsor: Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA-08) referred to Energy & Commerce Committee; Financial Services Committee; Ways & Means Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2022

H.R. 6385, To provide, manufacture, and distribute high-quality N-95 respirator masks for every individual in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic using the Defense Production Act

Sponsor: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA-17) referred to Energy & Commerce Committee;

Date Introduced; January 12, 2022

H.R. 6400, To provide for enhanced payments to rural healthcare providers under the Medicare & Medicaid programs

Sponsor: Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO-06) referred to Budget Committee; Energy & Commerce Committee; Ways & Means Committee

Date Introduced: January 13, 2022

H.R. 6406, To elevate the position of Director of the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health & Human Services to Assistant Secretary for Indian Health

Sponsor: Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) referred to Natural Resources Committee; Energy & Commerce Committee

Date Introduced: January 13, 2022


New York Times: For Coronavirus Testing, the Nose May Not Always Be Best

As Omicron spreads, some experts are calling for a switch to saliva-based tests, which may detect infections days earlier than nasal swabs do. Researchers at the University of Maryland recently found that in the 3 days before symptoms appear and the 2 days after, saliva samples contained about 3 times as much virus as nasal samples and were 12 times as likely to produce a positive P.C.R. result. After that, however, more virus began accumulating in the nose, according to the study, which has not yet been published in a scientific journal. A team of South African researchers recently found that while nasal swabs performed better than saliva swabs when detecting the Delta variant, the opposite was true for Omicron.


Finance & Federal Partnerships

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


H.R. 6379, To to bring the non-monetary policy related functions of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System into the appropriations process

Sponsor: Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) referred to Financial Services Committee

Date Introduced: January 12, 2022

H.R. 6398, To increase the rates of pay under the statutory pay systems and for prevailing rate employees by 5.1%

Sponsor: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) referred to Oversight & Reform Committee

Date Introduced: January 13, 2022

H.R. 6399, To establish the United States Working Group on Inflation

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) referred to Financial Services Committee

Date Introduced: January 5, 2021


Government Executive: IHS Strengthens Support for Native Americans in Federal Contracting

On Thursday, January 13, the Indian Health Service published a finalized rule in the Federal Register, to further the Buy Indian Act, and will be effective on March 14, 2022. The Indian Health Service has also published a fact sheet to explain what this new rule will mean for indigenous vendors who have historically been disadvantaged and excluded from federal contracting opportunities. According to IHS, this new rule alleviates unnecessary regulatory burdens on Indian Economic Enterprises; expands application of the Buy Indian Act to all construction of healthcare facilities, personnel quarters, and water supply and waste disposal facilities; and clarifies the preference for Indian Economic Enterprises. This rule also supports the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2020, which required the Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs "to harmonize Buy Indian Act procurement procedures," the Department of Health & Human Services noted in a press release.


Special Reports

The latest from reports issued from the Office of Government Accountability, the Congressional Research Service, and others.
  • GAO: January 13, 2022 - Pipeline Safety: Operators of Natural Gas & Hazardous Liquid Gathering Lines Face Data Collection Challenges

  • GAO: January 13, 2022 - Cybersecurity: Federal Response to SolarWinds & Microsoft Exchange Incidents

  • GAO: January 13, 2022 - Immigration: Information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • CRS: January 12, 2022 - Climate & Security in the Middle East & North Africa

  • CRS: January 12, 2022 - State & Federal Authority to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination


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