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Senate Advances Nuclear Permitting Bill: The Senate returned this week and the House will be back in session on June 25. The upper chamber advanced a bill (S. 870) by an 88-2 vote that would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to streamline permitting for nuclear energy projects and reauthorize firefighter assistance programs. The House passed the measure on May 8 by a 393-13 margin, and the bill now heads to President Biden’s desk. For more on the legislation, view the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources section below.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Origins: On Tuesday, June 18, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing titled “Origins of COVID-19: An Examination of Available Evidence.” The discussion focused on the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic and ways to prevent future biological risks. Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) discussed the lack of transparency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted the creation of the “Bipartisan Biosecurity and Life Science Research Investigation” that examines how the United States can better prepare for future biological risks. He stated the importance of understanding the origin of the pandemic so that future viral outbreaks can be prevented. He said the pandemic was either naturally caused or originated from a lab but said there might never be conclusive evidence as to what happened. Ranking Member Rand Paul (R-KY) cited statements in support of the virus originating from a lab. He noted the significant amount of gain-of-function research that took place in Wuhan and the likelihood that it was the source of SARS-CoV-2. He called for greater transparency in these institutions.

2025 Outlook – Trump, Republican Lawmakers Continue TCJA, Tax Policy Debate Heading into 2025: With many of the provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA, Pub. L. 115-97) expiring, a high-stakes tax policy debate is underway. Policymakers must contend with the balance between extending individual and business tax cuts with tax increases to pay for the package. As congressional lawmakers continue to develop ideas for potential tax legislation in 2025, former President and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has also started discussing prospective ideas ahead of the November elections.

In a Partisan Vote, House Appropriations Committee Passes DHS FY25 Funding Bill: On June 12, the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines (33-26) to advance the FY25 funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (H.R.8752). Overall, the bill’s topline spending level of $64.8 billion reflects a 4.9% increase from the $61.8 billion level enacted in FY24. As noted in the press release, the committee-passed measure also includes $600 million for constructing a wall along the southern border, funding the hiring and employment of 22,000 border patrol agents, and $300 million for border security technology. The bill also omits a request from the Biden administration to establish a contingency fund to manage border surges and slashes funding for the Shelter and Services Program (SSP). During the markup, the panel voted along party lines to reject an amendment offered by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to shift the $600 million for the border wall to SSP. In bringing forth her amendment, DeLauro questioned the panel “Why would we withhold resources from the very places confronting this crisis?” As a counterpoint, Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Mark Amodei (R-NV) declared that programs such as SSP “further incentivize illegal immigration, and cost goes through the roof for the American taxpayer.” The committee did approve a handful of immigration-related amendments, including one to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from closing family detention facilities and another to require the departments of Labor and Homeland Security to issue the maximum amount of seasonal worker visas. Looking ahead, the House is expected to vote on the bill sometime next week.

House and Senate Lawmakers Introduce CRA Resolutions to Overturn NEPA Phase II Rule: On Tuesday, June 18, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (I-WV), along with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the Biden administration’s Phase II National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) final rule. Chairman Manchin says the rule, which is meant to incorporate permitting provisions from the Fiscal Responsibility Act, “goes well beyond what was agreed to and undermines that deal by encouraging agencies to run right up to the deadline and empowering activists to hold up projects in litigation. We must get back to building things, but this rule creates roadblocks that will hold us back.” The resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Katie Britt (R-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The National Mining Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Public Gas Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have expressed support for the resolution. The House and Senate can pass CRA resolutions with a simple majority, meaning that more than half of members must agree for the resolution to pass.

Senate Subcommittee on Investigations Holds Hearing with Boeing CEO: On June 18, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) held a hearing titled “Boeing’s Broken Safety Culture: CEO Dave Calhoun Testifies.” Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun and Chief Engineer Howard McKenzie testified before the panel. The discussion focused on Boeing’s efforts to improve safety. Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ranking Member Ron Johnson (R-WI) began the hearing recognizing the people lost in the 2018 and 2019 crashes involving Boeing airplanes. Calhoun delivered an apology to the families for their losses and acknowledged the importance of safety reforms. He said Boeing is taking concrete actions to improve safety, such as inviting a quality expert to identify necessary reforms and fulfilling the steps outlined in their 90-day plan. McKenzie said he feels safety has been a priority in his 37 years at the company. Chairman Blumenthal and Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA) highlighted whistleblowers’ testimonies as evidence that Boeing systematically prioritizes production over safety.

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