Government Funding: With Congress unable to reach a consensus on appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023, lawmakers must reach a deal on a continuing resolution (CR) this month to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1. The House of Representatives is currently discussing a proposal to extend the fiscal year 2022 government spending levels for 12 more weeks until Dec. 16. Both chambers are expected to take up this short-term solution next week at the earliest.
However, congressional requests for additional supplemental funding may complicate the process. While Republicans have expressed strong support only for a barebones extension of government funding at current rates, several policy proposals have been raised that may require consideration in any final deal. At the forefront of the conversation is a request by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to include energy permitting reform legislation in any potential budget deal. The permitting reform language is part of a side deal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made with Sen. Manchin in order to secure Manchin’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act, the reconciliation bill Democrats passed prior to the August recess. The reform measure would overhaul how the federal government approves fossil fuel and clean energy projects. Progressives in the House and Senate have warned that they will not support any government funding bill that includes language to expedite fossil fuel production.
Further complicating the CR process, the Biden administration is seeking an additional $50 billion for several miscellaneous initiatives and policy objectives. Of this total request, $22.5 billion is dedicated to additional COVID-19 funding for vaccines and other emergency equipment. Republicans are unlikely to support the proposal, likely arguing that any additional funding for pandemic relief should be taken from already authorized, unspent COVID funds. The White House is also requesting nearly $14 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, more than half of which would be dedicated to direct military assistance. In the past, Republican leadership has been accepting of emergency relief for Ukraine and may support a slimmed-down version of those requests. Biden has also asked for a series of more limited additional emergency support for various items including funding for monkeypox vaccines, natural disaster relief, non-Russian-sourced uranium, modernization efforts for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and livestock/crop insurance.
Early indications suggest that there may be bipartisan support in the Senate for a stopgap proposal to fund the government until Dec. 16. It is currently unclear which supplemental proposals will receive serious consideration in the bill.
Possible Health Care Items in a CR: As lawmakers turn their attention to funding the federal government beyond Sept. 30, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep current funding levels through Dec. 16 appears increasingly likely. Details of additional policy riders that might be included are still fluid; however, since a CR would be one of the last must-pass bills before the November midterms, there are several health care policies that could be attached. At the top of the list is reauthorizing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee programs, which are set to expire on Sept. 30.
FDA user fee reauthorization passed the House back in June but has yet to receive a Senate vote after Senate HELP Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) insisted on a clean version of the bill “without harmful additions” that “undermine the very purpose of the user fee program.” Staff negotiations between the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee were extended past their initial Sept. 12 deadline to continue to try and reach a deal on reauthorization separate from a CR. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said a CR would include user fee reauthorization, though negotiations over which policy riders to include with the reauthorization are ongoing.
Several Senate Republicans oppose the White House’s request for an additional $22.4 billion in COVID-19 funding and $4.5 billion for the federal monkeypox response. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), along with Sens. Burr, Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Richard Shelby (R-AL) all signaled their opposition to the supplemental funding request.
Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act Passes House: On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the House passed the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021 by voice vote. The bill establishes an electronic process for Medicare Advantage (MA) prior authorizations, creates an expedited process for routine prior authorization approvals, and increases transparency around prior authorization decisions. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ami Bera (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and gained 326 co-sponsors. Over 500 organizations support the legislation as well, making it “the most supported health care bill in the entire Congress” according to Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), who introduced the Senate companion legislation. The Senate bill currently has 43 co-sponsors, though the Senate Finance Committee has yet to consider it. In light of the wide, bipartisan support for the bill, there is some discussion of moving it forward as -part of an end-of-year package in the Senate.
Reps. Bera, Bucshon Introduce Bill to Stop 2023 Physician Fee Cuts: On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced the Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022, which halts the 4.42% Medicare physician pay cut slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Additionally, the bill includes a sense of Congress statement that HHS and Congress should work to “ensure financial stability and predictability in the Medicare physician payment system” going forward. Provider groups, including the California Medical Association, the Surgical Care Coalition and the Medical Group Management Association, are generally supportive of the legislation, though they caution that Congress must still work to address upcoming sequester cuts, workforce shortages and long-term solutions to address care quality in Medicare payments.
Senators Criticize Biden Administration’s Monkeypox Response: On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the Biden administration’s response to the monkeypox outbreak. Senators on both sides of the aisle were critical of the administration’s slow initial vaccine rollout and inequitable access to vaccines across communities. The senators were particularly frustrated by the lack of preparation and different logistics handling given the years of experience with COVID-19.
The day after the hearing, the White House announced new research commitments focused on diagnosing, treating and preventing monkeypox. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve any treatments specifically meant for monkeypox. Both the Jynneos vaccine and the TPOXX antiviral treatment are FDA-approved for smallpox but have been given emergency use authorizations for monkeypox. The National Institutes of Health launched a phase 3 clinical trial last week to study the efficacy of using TPOXX to treat monkeypox. The trial aims to enroll 530 people and involves over 60 clinical sites around the country.
Abortion Policy Updates: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced legislation on Tuesday, Sept. 13 to ban abortions across the country after 15 weeks, with some exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. The bill, called the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act (S.4840), also includes a criminal penalty of up to five years of prison time for providers who violate the abortion ban. In response to the bill, Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) said that most Senate Republicans “prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” signaling that any Senate action before the November election is highly unlikely.
The Idaho state legislature filed a motion to reconsider Idaho District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s August ruling that the state’s abortion ban goes against the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The legislature argues that the recent decision in Texas shows that EMTALA cannot exert federal control over state abortion laws.
In Indiana, a group of Jewish and Muslim residents sued the state over its new abortion ban, arguing that it violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A hearing in this suit has been set for Oct. 14, a month after Indiana’s ban went into effect on Sept. 15.
An Ohio judge issued a 14-day pause of the state’s abortion ban as part of a case filed earlier this month. Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins stated that he granted the pause due to the substantial likelihood that the abortion ban violates the Ohio constitution’s clause that prohibits penalizing the sale or purchase of health care. He also stated that the law could violate Ohio’s equal protection clause by discriminating against pregnant women.
All Eyes Turn to Treasury After IRA Enactment: Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), much of the focus of both lawmakers and stakeholders will shift to the implementation and interpretation of the law’s provisions by the relevant federal agencies. The Treasury Department has rulemaking authority over most of the IRA’s revenue and spending provisions. Specifically, on the spending side, the law stipulates that the Treasury Department must consult with the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Labor (DOL) on the energy provisions in the bill and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on provisions related to drug pricing reform.
The Treasury Department, DOE, EPA, DOL and HHS have all already begun to expedite and expand their staffing efforts, seeking to hire new employees to publish guidance to implement the IRA. Several issues have already been raised by stakeholders on the tax portions of the bill, including the implementation of new transferable and direct pay tax credits and rules around new prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements. Agency officials will also be responsible for overhauling guidance on the existing investment and production tax credits and drafting guidance for the new hydrogen energy tax credit and advanced manufacturing incentives.
In addition to the aforementioned concerns about the green energy credits, criticism from U.S. automakers has been levied against the domestic manufacturing and content requirements included in the modification to the existing electric vehicles (EV) tax credit. Despite initial regulatory guidance released from the Treasury Department last month concerning the credit, experts have predicted that final regulations will limit the incentives to a very small subset of new EV models. And, on another front, foreign governments like European Union countries and South Korea have also voiced their concerns about the new EV provisions, which they think may violate international trade rules.
On the tax increase side, stakeholders have raised questions about the implementation of the new corporate domestic minimum tax. The new levy, which is scheduled to go into effect next year, will impose a 15% tax on the book profits of large corporations. Without additional guidance, several taxpayers remain unsure of what transactions will be subject to the law. For example, it is currently unknown if certain stock trades from the subsidiary companies of applicable large corporations would be taxable under the new rules, among other specific transactions.
Regulatory guidance is expected to continue to be released over the coming months and years as the relevant agencies quickly ramp up efforts in anticipation of a wave of stakeholder feedback and potential implementation roadblocks.
Next Steps for IRS Funding: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides a nearly $80 billion increase in funding for the IRS over the next decade. This funding surge will allow for a massive expansion of IRS resources, with the agency currently operating on a budget of only approximately $14 billion a year.
Upon the ultimate passage of the IRA, IRS Commissioner Rettig immediately published a statement reminding the public that any changes at the IRS “will not be immediate” and will instead slowly be implemented over the next decade. The statement also mentioned some IRS objectives aside from auditing, including upgrades to legacy technology systems and improved taxpayer services.
In a separate, private correspondence to employees of the IRS on the same day, Rettig called attention to forthcoming efforts to expand oversight and auditing of “large corporate and global high-net-worth taxpayers as well as pass-through entities and multinational taxpayers with international tax issues.”
Despite repeated commitments from the Treasury Department and IRS authorities to limit targeting of lower- and middle-class taxpayers, Republican lawmakers have been generally unified against the additional funding, with several pointing to a report by the Ways and Means Committee minority staff that estimated that with the IRA, taxpayers making less than $75,000 will be subject to a total of 700,000 new audits per year.
Some Democrats have been more skeptical, requesting immediate information on the agency’s plans to prevent overzealous audits. This includes Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, who submitted a letter to Rettig concerning some of the details of the proposed funding. While the letter expressed general approval for the funding, Pascrell ended his remarks with a request that the IRS provide a breakdown of its proposed annual spending by the end of August. As of mid-September, there has been no response from Rettig on Pascrell’s request for more detailed spending projections.
Following Pascrell’s letter, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen submitted a similar request to Rettig, asking the commissioner to submit a detailed plan on how the agency plans to spend the funds. As opposed to Pascrell’s two-week time frame, Yellen requested that the IRS submit a response within the next six months, giving the agency until mid-February to develop its initial plan. In the memo, Yellen lays out several goals that should be addressed by any potential plan, including a solution for the current tax return backlog, improvements to public-facing taxpayer services, significant investment in training for new hires and the hiring of at least 50,000 new employees by 2028.
Despite the criticism from both sides of the aisle, Rettig has remained relatively silent on the IRS’s implementation plan since the passage of the IRA. In a rare public statement on the issue, Rettig penned an op-ed article for Yahoo! Finance, disputing some of the claims regarding the increased IRS funding. Rettig refers to many of these criticisms as “outright false suggestions,” arguing that new auditors will only target “high-end tax evaders.” Rettig also claims that the only changes that compliant taxpayers should observe are improved taxpayer services, including better phone service and more timely information processing.
Five EU Countries Try to Save Global Minimum Tax: Five European Union countries mounted a renewed push last week to resuscitate the Pillar Two global minimum tax endorsed last year as part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) efforts to address the digitization of the economy and limit base erosion and profit shifting. The announcement by Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain comes on the heels of Congress’ failure to include provisions to adopt Pillar Two in the Inflation Reduction Act enacted in August. It also follows indications that the new UK government may be reconsidering its implementation of Pillar Two and the announcement by Pascal Saint-Amans, the chief architect of the two-pillar OECD agreement, that he will step down as the head of tax policy at the OECD at the end of October.
In a Sept. 9 joint statement, the countries stressed that “[s]hould unanimity not be reached in the next weeks, our governments are fully determined to follow through on our commitment. We stand ready to implement the global minimum effective taxation in 2023 and by any possible legal means.” (Note that the effective date reference presumably means enactment of the new rules in 2023, which would be effective in 2024, consistent with the timing envisioned in Pillar Two.) The statement appears to be a political effort to restore momentum for the global minimum tax and encourage Hungary to pull back its opposition to the proposed EU directive to implement Pillar Two when the EU finance ministers meet at the next Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) on Oct. 4. Hungary unexpectedly changed its position at the June ECOFIN meeting, denying the council the required unanimity to proceed with the global minimum tax in the EU.
The five nations are attempting to use the EU procedure for “enhanced cooperation” to work around Hungary’s opposition, a procedure that has not previously been used to implement tax agreements. While the proposed action could create renewed political momentum for broader adoption of Pillar Two, questions have been raised as to whether individual EU countries can impose the global minimum tax (in particular, its undertaxed profits rule) on other EU countries without a unanimously approved EU directive.
Treasury Renews Efforts to Expand U.S. Tax-Treaty Network: The Treasury Department is moving to expand and update the network of U.S. bilateral tax treaties. In August, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged the Senate to ratify the U.S.-Chile tax treaty, which was reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March after languishing for more than a decade in the Senate. Chile ratified the treaty in 2015. Senate ratification would include reservation language to address changes to the U.S. international tax rules in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which will have to be approved by Chile for the agreement to enter into force.
Jose Murillo, deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs at the Treasury Department, indicated last week that the Treasury Department is in discussions with Switzerland and Israel to update existing, older tax treaties. He also confirmed that new tax treaty negotiations with Romania, Norway and Croatia have been completed and that the Treasury Department is renegotiating previous updates to the bilateral tax agreements with Poland and Vietnam to reflect the TCJA changes to U.S. law.
Each of these new and updated agreements face an uncertain future once they arrive in the Senate for ratification, largely due to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) long-standing concerns about private protections under U.S. tax treaties. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has limited floor time remaining this year to take up the Chilean tax treaty, which he would have to commit to using if Paul were to filibuster the Senate’s consideration of the agreement.
Biden Loosens Trump-Era ‘Public Charge’ Rule: Last week, the Biden administration issued guidance that would reverse the so-called “public charge” rule instituted under former President Trump that enabled the government to deny green cards to immigrants who were likely to require government benefits.
Under the new regulation published last Thursday and set to take effect on Dec. 23, green card applicants will no longer be penalized for their use of non-cash public assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid or housing benefits. According to the new guidance, immigration officers are instead directed to review “the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term institutionalization at government expense” to evaluate if any individual is likely to become a “public charge,” ineligible to become a permanent resident.
The move is the latest effort by President Biden to roll back the stricter immigration policies imposed by his predecessor. In a statement, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members.”
Biden Administration Issues New DACA Guidance: Late last month, the Biden administration unveiled a regulation intended to legally reinforce the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The new rule, scheduled to take effect Oct. 31, comes over a year after a Texas federal judge halted the granting of new DACA requests on grounds that former President Obama had overstepped his authority in creating the program by Executive Order.
In a statement, DHS said that the new rule “embraces the consistent judgment that has been maintained by the Department—and by three presidential administrations since the policy first was announced—that DACA recipients should not be a priority for removal.” However, the rule will only apply to DACA renewal requests, as new applications remain on hold as a result of last year’s court ruling. Moreover, the move has received some criticism from immigration advocates for not going far enough to reform the program, such as failing to provide for permanent protections and not broadening eligibility requirements.
H-1B and H-2B Visa Caps Reached: Over recent weeks, caps for two key worker visas have been reached, according to USCIS. First, last month the agency announced that the H-1B visa cap had been reached for FY23. Nationwide labor shortages have fueled record numbers of registrations for the visa since FY22, when USCIS received over 308,000 registrations. This year, it has received more than 483,000 registrations against a limit of 85,000 available visas—20,000 of which are reserved for workers holding advanced degrees.
On Wednesday, USCIS announced that the 33,000 cap has been reached for H-2B visas for seasonal workers for the first half of FY23. Another 33,000 H-2B visas allocated for the second half of FY23 will become available in the spring. Petitions not subject to the cap may still be submitted, such as those for current workers extending their stay or those changing employers. Similar to the H-1Bs, labor shortages have boosted demand for H-2Bs. Last December, DHS issued an additional 20,000 H-2B visas for the first half of FY22 due to high demand for them.
Bipartisan House Duo Introduces Bill to Add Ireland to U.S.-Australia E-3 Visa Program: On Aug. 31, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) and committee member Mike Kelly (R-PA) unveiled legislation (H.R.8761) that would add Ireland to the E3 non-immigrant visa program. The E-3 program, initially created by 2005 Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), has allocated 10,500 visas annually to skilled Australian nationals.
The bipartisan duo posits that adding Ireland to the program would enable qualified Irish workers to access unused Australian E-3 visas. According to their statement marking the bill’s rollout, Australians have only used about half of the available visas over the past decade.
A companion bill (S.3869) was introduced in the Senate back on St. Patrick’s Day by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), but has not had any movement since then.
Deal Reached on EB-5 Regional Centers’ Authorization: Last month, a settlement was reached in two cases concerning the ability for regional centers to operate under the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5’s regional center program allows foreign investors to pool their funds into enterprises such as real estate projects. However, after lawmakers passed legislation to restart the program in March, DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) withdrew authorizations for 600 existing enterprises and stated that they must reapply for approval to continue operating, leading to lawsuits over the government’s action.
Under the agreement reached in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, all previously approved regional centers will retain their authorization status. The deal follows a preliminary injunction in June in one of the two cases that blocked USCIS from requiring regional centers to reapply for approval for their operations to continue.
At Least Six House GOP Angling for Top Homeland Security Panel Role: As eyes turn toward the midterms and the next Congress, the race for the top Republican slot on the House Homeland Security Committee has heated up. With current Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) retiring after the current Congress, at least six Republican lawmakers have expressed interest in replacing him, including Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Mark Green (R-TN), Michael Guest (R-MS), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Dan Bishop (R-NC) and Scott Perry (R-PA). Of the six, Guest, Higgins and Bishop currently sit on the committee while Crenshaw, Green, and Perry previously served on it.
The committee will play a high-profile role in the next Congress if Republicans capture a House majority, with many expecting them to conduct aggressive oversight of the Biden administration’s border security policies.
Crenshaw is the only border-state Republican in the mix to lead the committee, and sources indicate both he and Green have touted their military backgrounds to make their case for the gavel. While each member is expected to increase oversight toward the Biden administration, Bishop has reportedly pitched himself as a chair who would aggressively probe DHS, even raising the prospect of impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
It is possible other Republicans will join the committee leadership competition. Ultimately, the House Republican Steering Committee will determine the top Republican on the committee who will either serve as the next chair or ranking member, depending on whether Republicans capture a House majority in the November midterm elections.
Energy, Environment and Natural Resources
White House Opens New Office to Oversee IRA: On Monday, President Biden signed an executive order establishing the new White House Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, which will oversee and coordinate the policymaking process for implementing energy and infrastructure provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The office will have its own staff, led by senior adviser John Podesta, who will also serve as chair of the National Climate Task Force to coordinate a unified climate policy across federal agencies. The Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation will work with the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy to carry out provisions within the IRA and structure its grants and tax credits. The IRA includes $369 billion in climate and energy funding programs, making it the largest climate-related investment in American history.
Biden Administration Reinstates Oil Lease Sale: The Biden administration issued reinstated Gulf of Mexico offshore Lease Sale 257 on Wednesday, offering parcels to oil and gas companies that received bids in the original November 2021 auction that was later blocked by a federal court over National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) concerns. The sale offers 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to the 307 highest valid bids from the previous sale. The sale was reinstated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to comply with provisions in the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act. The new bill also ties rights of way and leases for renewable projects, including solar and offshore wind, to be contingent on the future sale of oil lease sales within the same year. The National Ocean Industries Association praised the reinstatement of the sale for keeping energy flowing in the Gulf of Mexico. Lease Sale 257 is the only offshore oil sale that has been held by the Biden administration. The IRA requires the Biden administration to hold several offshore oil sales it had canceled in the previous five-year plan.
EPA to Propose Permanent E15 Rule: EPA Administrator Michael Regan said on Tuesday that the agency is planning to propose a new rule that would allow for the permanent sale of E15 ethanol-gasoline blends. Over the summer, EPA issued a series of emergency waivers for the Clean Air Act restrictions that aim to limit fuel volatility, reduce emissions and improve air quality by restricting the sale of E15. Reagan said that EPA will issue regulations that would lift restrictions on the sale of E15 fuel in the eight states that have requested it. The waivers kept E15 available during summer months in order to combat high gas prices. Reagan also said that EPA is considering revising its blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard as the agency attempts to help meet the Biden administration’s climate goals. EPA will issue the final rule on E15 by June 14, 2023.
New Bill Would Limit Oil Development on Public Lands:House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act on Tuesday in an attempt to combat climate change and reduce fossil fuel emissions. The bill would direct the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to manage public lands and oceans in accordance with the Biden administration’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit new fossil fuel leasing and permitting until the agencies demonstrate that lifecycle emissions from oil and gas development are consistent with climate change targets. Co-sponsors of the bill include Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA). The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation next week.
House Holds Hearings on Oil PR, Profits: On Thursday, the Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing to examine profits of major oil companies and discuss the adequacy of companies’ climate pledges and net zero initiatives. The committee will hear firsthand accounts from witnesses who have been impacted by climate change-induced weather events. The hearing notice said that despite record profits, Big Oil companies have not taken the steps needed to prevent climate impacts and are issuing misleading climate pledges and making inadequate investments in energy sources and technologies. The hearing is part of continued investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s profits and commitment to climate pledges. On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to investigate the role of public relations (PR) firms in spreading climate misinformation. The committee said major oil companies use greenwashing tactics to mislead the public on climate change issues. Republicans on both committees used the hearings to highlight the Biden administration’s climate policies as the reason for high energy costs across the United States.
Capito Introduces Separate Permitting Bill: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on Tuesday introduced legislation to overhaul the federal regulatory permitting process for energy projects as Democrats continue to debate the permitting proposal agreed on by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Capito’s bill, the Simplify Timelines and Assure Regulatory Transparency (START) Act, would provide regulatory certainty to states, expedite permitting and review processes, codify substantive environmental regulatory reforms, and expedite permitting of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The bill is co-sponsored by 46 Republican senators. A letter led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva urging House leadership not to include Manchin’s permitting measure in the stopgap funding bill has received over 70 signatures from House Democrats.
Federal Agencies Issue Guidance on Tribal Co-Management: The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service each unveiled new public lands guidance this week with specific measures to facilitate and support agreements with tribes to collaborate in the co-management of federal lands and waters. The new guidance is based on a joint secretarial order that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed during the Tribal Nations Summit in November. The order outlines how the agencies will take steps to strengthen tribal co-stewardship efforts. BLM’s guidance requires the 12 state directors to create state-specific plans for outreach to identify co-stewardship opportunities, including identifying potential tribal partners and sources of Indigenous Knowledge within six months. BLM’s full memorandum can be found here.
BLM Bars Future Mining on Former Montana Site: Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) barred 4 square miles of public land at the Zortman-Landusky Mine in Montana from future mining for 20 years. Officials withdrew the land from future development to protect a reclamation area near the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation where over $80 million has been spent to clean up contamination from previous mining projects. BLM said the remaining work could cost $70 million and would require moving millions of tons of waste rock and treating hundreds of millions of gallons of water in coming decades. BLM’s order specifically withdraws 2,688.13 acres of public lands in Phillips County, Montana, “from location or entry under the United States mining laws, but not from the mineral leasing or mineral materials disposal laws, for a 20-year period, subject to valid existing rights, to protect the Zortman-Landusky Mine reclamation site.”
BLM Water Scientists Find Flaws in Oak Flat EIS: Water scientists at BLM concluded that the environmental impact statement for the Oak Flat land swap had several deficiencies and did not meet the standard of analysis required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), according to an agency report made public by the San Carlos Apache Nation earlier this week. The scientists found that the environmental review conducted by the Trump administration reads as incomplete and subjective and struggles under the extensive scope of the proposed project and the scale of the studies needed to inform it. The Forest Service confirmed that it received the BLM report and is reviewing the findings. The Forest Service also said no decision to redo or supplement the environmental review has been made at this time. Rio Tinto spokesperson Simon Letendre defended the environmental review for the Resolution Copper land swap. “The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Resolution Copper project is the product of a rigorous, decade-long, independent review by the US Forest Service in collaboration with a dozen federal and state agencies, Native American Tribes and local communities,” Letendre said.
FAA Updating Facility with Solar Panels: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will pay around $4 million to update the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, an air-traffic control and training facility in Oklahoma. The project marks the FAA’s largest solar-power project yet. The agency said that the project will help meet President Biden’s order that government buildings use 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030. The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City consists of over 130 buildings across 1,100 acres. “This project captures the area’s abundant sunshine, will save valuable taxpayer dollars and will help build a more sustainable aviation system,” said Billy Nolen, the FAA’s acting administrator. According to the FAA, the solar panels are expected to generate enough power for 260 average homes and reduce the center’s electric bill by up to $200,000 a year.
Republicans Write DHS Over Solar Panel Use: Last week, a group of Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over concerns that the agency could be using funds to purchase solar panels or components that have been manufactured by Chinese companies. The letter cites solar panels that are being used to rebuild the U.S. Virgin Islands’ energy grid following the damages from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The lawmakers said, “if we are not vigilant in our efforts to ensure that no solar panels or components made with slave labor are being purchased with federal dollars from FEMA or other U.S. agencies and used on similar solar projects, it is possible the United States could be directly funding the genocide and abuse occurring in China’s Xinjiang region.” The letter was signed by Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Rail Unions Come to Preliminary Agreement with Carriers: On Sept. 15, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced via Twitter that rail companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement to prevent a rail strike. The compromise comes after a lengthy period of tense discussions between all parties involved, including a group of administration officials. Union workers still need to ratify the compromise, with voting to occur through the end of September and potentially into mid-October. The deal promises changes for railroad’s time-off policies and new contracts that will incorporate a 24% wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024. Amid calls from industry groups for congressional action, Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation to codify a set of recommendations released by the Presidential Emergency Board to prevent a rail strike from occurring; the resolution’s progress was halted on Sept. 14 when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blocked a motion to approve it via unanimous consent, an expedited process that requires the support of all present senators.
Democrats Seek Investigation of Airlines’ COVID-19 Relief Funding: On Sept. 9, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jim Clyburn wrote to the Treasury Department’s deputy inspector general, Richard Delmar, requesting a formal probe into the $54 billion disbursed to airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The duo argued that the funding failed to prevent significant increases in stalled and canceled flights over 2021. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on airline oversight in December, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) called for a similar event in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Airlines for America has defended airlines’ use of the funding, arguing that the support protected workers’ livelihoods and enabled the industry to rebound quicker from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal Government Approves NEVI Plans: The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Sept. 14 approved 33 state plans for the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, an important milestone in the implementation of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. Plans submitted by the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were also approved. The $5 billion NEVI program was created by the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), and over $900 million will be disbursed to states in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The program is being jointly administered by the departments of Transportation and Energy, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently in the process of examining comments submitted on its proposed program standards. Separately, FHWA is also accepting comments on a proposal to grant domestic EV charging manufacturers waivers from Buy America requirements to support U.S. production.
Senate Confirms TSA Administrator for Second Term: On Sept. 15, the Senate confirmed David Pekoske for a second term as leader of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Pekoske has driven new technology initiatives at the agency and advocated for pay increases for TSA officers during his tenure, both policy initiatives he intends to continue in his next five-year term. Pekoske faced a relatively smooth path through the Senate and was ultimately confirmed with bipartisan support (77-18). He was confirmed to his first term in 2017 via unanimous consent.
DOL Announces Recipients of $3.4 Million Apprenticeship Grants: On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the recipients of the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grants. Five community-based organizations received funds totaling $3.4 million to help recruit, train and retain more women in quality pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship programs. “The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants will increase workforce pathways for women entering the building trades at a crucial time, as the Biden-Harris administration is heavily investing in infrastructure to create jobs in the clean energy, technology and manufacturing sectors,” DOL Secretary Marty Walsh said. WANTO grant funding provides support for women in fields that are traditionally underrepresented by women. A portion of the grant funds will also provide support services such as child care, transportation, tuition and work-related gear.
White House Launches Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative: On Thursday, Sept. 1, the White House announced the launch of the “Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative.” This initiative brings together a network of more than 200 unions, businesses and organizations, who have committed to invest in their Registered Apprenticeship programs. Through this initiative, the Biden administration aims to develop 460 new Registered Apprenticeship programs, hire over 10,000 new apprentices and hold 5,000 outreach and training events to help other businesses and leaders launch similar programs. The administration has promoted job training programs as a solution to easing tight labor markets in industries, particularly the skilled construction trades where demand is expected to rise as a result of the infrastructure law signed last year. Similarly, last week, the administration also announced that it would expand its registered teacher apprenticeship programs by prioritizing its next round of $100 million in apprenticeship grants to the education sector in order to tackle the national teacher shortage.
NLRB Releases Draft Rule on Expanded Joint-Employer Standard: Last Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a highly anticipated draft rule to broaden the legal standards for determining joint-employer status. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) would deem linked entities to be joint employers if they “share or codetermine” key employment components, such as wages, benefits, employee discipline policies and workplace safety. The NPRM would rescind a rule, previously established during the Trump administration in April 2020, requiring proof of “substantial, direct and immediate” control over workers to qualify as a joint employer. This previous rule was a major victory for businesses, as it required stricter requirements of control over employment conditions in order to qualify as a joint employer. However, the 2020 rule faced legal challenges in federal courts that found issues with the prior administration’s basis for changing the standard. The proposed new rule provides that an employer may have joint employer liability where the employer “possesses the authority to control (whether directly, indirectly or both), or … exercise the power to control (whether directly, indirectly or both), one or more of the employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment.” The proposal is likely to face legal challenges as well. Critics of the proposed rule say it will hurt businesses, especially those that source labor through contracting, temporary staffing and other business-to-business arrangements, as it extends labor law obligations to the companies. Interested parties may submit public comments by Nov. 7, 2022.
Senate Finance Committee Introduces EARN Act: Last Thursday, the Senate Committee on Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the bipartisan Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act. The Finance Committee’s portion of the bill seeks to increase workers’ retirement savings, help part-time workers participate in retirement plans and allow for penalty-free withdrawals in emergency cases, among other provisions. “Every member of the Finance Committee had a hand in drafting this legislation, and the broad range of ideas incorporated into the final bill is a testament to the power of bipartisanship,” said Sen. Crapo. The Senate Finance Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) advanced their respective portions of the retirement package in June, after the House passed its own version in March. According to a committee aide, the EARN Act now incorporates amendments made during markups of the bill. After the Senate votes on the legislation, the chambers’ two packages, referred to together as SECURE 2.0, will need to be reconciled. Both pieces have similar costs and contain about 70 provisions, 30 of which are similar.
Sen. Warren and Rep. Sherman Reintroduce the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act: Last Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) reintroduced the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act, legislation that would ban “right-to-work” laws that are currently enacted in 27 states. These laws forbid employers and unions from entering agreements that require every worker covered by the contract to pay fees to the union, enabling workers to opt out of paying dues but still benefiting from a union contract and representation. According to Rep. Sherman’s office, “These laws make it more difficult for workers to form unions and fight for higher wages and better working conditions in the states that adopt them, resulting in a 5% decrease in unionization rates and a decrease in average wages for all full-time workers of 3.1%, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, or about $11,000 a year.” Sen. Warren originally introduced the bill in 2017 and again in 2020 as the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act. Despite Sen. Warren rallying 18 co-sponsors for the bill, Senate Democrats may struggle with getting more centrist colleagues on board, especially those that represent right-to-work states.
Rep. Foxx Seeks Responses from DOL Secretary on Oversight Letters: On Monday, the House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to DOL Secretary Walsh demanding responses to four oversight letters, having previously sent letters in June and July. The letters inquired about the constitutional and statutory authority for DOL to implement Executive Order 14019, “Promoting Access to Voting”; Secretary Walsh’s involvement in union disputes; information on DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ directive impacting the attorney-client privilege; and requested materials from senior DOL officials. Rep. Foxx said, “Responses to each of these letters is important in order for Congress to fulfill its duty of overseeing the operations and decision-making of DOL.” She said DOL’s failure to provide timely, written responses means that the “DOL is derelict in its duties.” This series of requests signals the increased potential for Secretary Walsh to face an oversight agenda from the House Education and Labor Committee if House Republican members take the majority in the November midterms.
Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on the Nominations of EEOC’s General Counsel and DOL’s WHD Administrator: On Tuesday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of Karla Gilbride to be general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Jessica Looman, DOL’s current chief of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), to permanently serve as administrator. During the hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) underscored the critical role the EEOC plays in enforcing workplace discrimination and harassment laws and the WHD’s work to ensure that workers are protected against exploitation. Sen. Murray said, “Both of these nominees are preeminently qualified—both given their deep professional experience and their long track records fighting to protect workers’ rights and wages—and I will be pushing to get them confirmed as soon as possible.” During Looman’s hearing, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) alluded to the WHD’s recent rescissions of guidance and rules issued during the Trump administration. He said there were rules from the previous administration “that we shouldn’t just get rid of, carte blanche, if there’s some common sense to it.” Looman said she would keep both workers and employers in consideration, listening to all points of view. She said, “Most employers want to understand and comply with the law.” A Senate labor panel will meet to consider their nominations next week.
Labor Leaders Testify Before the House Education and Labor Committee: On Tuesday, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing titled “In Solidarity: Removing Barriers to Organizing.” Among those testifying before the committee were Michelle Eisen, Starbucks Workers United organizer, and former NLRB chair Mark Gaston Pearce. The hearing comes at a time when public approval of labor unions this year hit its highest level since 1965, a recent Gallup poll found. During discussions about employees’ efforts to unionize and claims that employees are being blacklisted by the company, Pearce said, “That kind of devastating, diabolical activity has to be looked at very carefully.” He said, “The law talks about an employer [who] has the right to shutter its business to stop a union from coming in. But if you have a corporate employer that has a cluster of business and essentially is playing whack-a-mole to drive out the union, I think the law looks a little bit differently at those kinds of activities.” Multiple members of the committee called for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 (H.R. 842), which was passed in the House in March 2021. The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in June of this year.
IPEF Summit a Success for U.S.: Last week, the U.S. served as host to the first in-person meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF). By and large, the engagement was a critical success for the U.S., with all 14 member countries joining three (supply chain, clean economy and fair economy) of the four IPEF pillars, with just one—India—opting out of the fourth one that focused on trade.
Following the conference, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo marveled at the accomplishments underscored by the gathering, noting that IPEF partners came to an agreement on ministerial texts less than four months since IPEF was initially unveiled. In a statement, Raimondo further labeled the summit an “undeniable success.” For her part, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai declared that “real progress” had been made toward deepening partnerships to “collectively to address the challenges and opportunities that will define the 21st century.” South Korean Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun also expressed optimism after the meeting and stated that the new framework was “setting a new model for the trade order” by focusing on new issues like digital trade, supply chain and clean economy rather than traditional trade issues like market access. He elaborated that having a fairer economy and regulatory environment is a newer, important component to attracting foreign investment.
Further Updates in the Auxin Solar Case: Last month, the Commerce Department delayed issuing a preliminary ruling in the Auxin solar tariff case until Nov. 28, at Auxin’s request. This would also likely delay a final decision in the case until late March 2023. Auxin, an American solar manufacturer, argues that solar panels imported from Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand should be subject to China import tariffs since their components originate in China. Importers argue that since the panels are assembled outside of China, the final imported product should not fall under China tariffs. They also contend that imposing tariffs on imported solar panels would hurt domestic solar panel installation jobs while also disrupting the shift toward clean energy.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department issued a proposed rule in July to pause potential tariffs on solar imports from Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for two years in response to President Biden’s emergency declaration back in June to ensure the solar panel supply. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo at the beginning of August to seek input from stakeholders before finalizing the rule. In his letter to Secretary Raimondo, Sen. Brown suggested utilizing existing regulations that require importers to submit written requests for tariff relief. He also stated that a final rule should clarify that the two-year pause cannot be used for stockpiling solar panel imports for future use.
Steelworkers Criticize Countering Economic Coercion Act: Last month, United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas Conway criticized a recently introduced bill that would empower the president to modify tariffs for U.S. trading partners experiencing economic coercion from foreign adversaries, such as China and Russia.
In an Aug. 9 letter to senators, Conway claimed that the Countering Economic Coercion Act (S.4514) introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Todd Young (R-IN) would have adverse effects on domestic manufacturers and instead promote “nebulous foreign policy goals over American jobs, and pose serious risks to our economic and national security.” He further declares that the legislation defines coercion in a matter so broad that “the mere threat to ‘influence sovereign political actions’ in a foreign country could trigger unilateral action by an Administration that lower duties for foreign producers, some of whom rely on China itself for inputs.”
Ways and Means Holds Hearing on U.S.-Taiwan Trade: On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the future of U.S.-Taiwan trade. The hearing comes at a time of increased congressional focus toward the island nation that has been underscored by bipartisan calls for boosting U.S.-Taiwan relations as a means of countering China and bolstering a democratic society. Over the recent congressional recess, several delegations visited the country, most notably one led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the beginning of August. The hearing focused on congressional input on trade negotiations and the need to reauthorize the Trade Promotional Authority (TPA), countering China’s economic influence and the geopolitical importance of a bilateral free trade agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan, and what top priorities such an agreement should address.
Biden Punts on China Tariffs Decision: According to administration officials, President Biden has decided to refrain from deciding on the future of Trump-era Section 301 tariffs against China. The news of a punted decision comes as USTR formally announced last week that, as part of its review into the tariff regime, it had received hundreds of requests from U.S. companies and trade associations to keep the duties in place. The window for companies to submit comments to USTR in favor of extending the tariffs closed on Sept. 2, but given the submissions seeking their extension, the agency is required to start a new, separate review process.
While the duties have passed the four-year anniversary date that would otherwise cause them to automatically expire, the requests for extensions mean USTR must maintain the duty regime as it conducts its review. While Biden had approved a new exclusion process that provided for some exemptions from the tariffs, his delayed decision means most duties shall continue unaffected. The tariff regime covers a broad array of Chinese imports, ranging from industrial components such as microchips and chemicals to consumer merchandise such as apparel and furniture.
South Korea, EU Consider WTO Dispute Over Inflation Reduction Act’s EV Tax Credit: An electric vehicle (EV) tax credit included in the Inflation Reduction Act has the EU and South Korea contemplating filing a WTO dispute. The new law stipulates that, in order to qualify for the credit, an EV must have a battery manufactured in the U.S. and contain 40% American-mined or recycled metals. European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and South Korean Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun have both raised concerns over the EV tax credit discriminating against foreign EV manufacturers directly in conversations USTR Katherine Tai, and both questioned if the tax credit violates WTO commitments. South Korea also voiced concern that the credit violates the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. has agreed to continue discussions with the EU and hold “ministerial-level” talks with South Korea to try to resolve the issue.
Spectrum Auction Authority: Barring any further action by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) spectrum auction authority is set to expire on Sept. 30. While most lawmakers agree the authority should be extended, there is disagreement about the length of the extension. Some are pushing for a lengthier extension to give the FCC and industry more certainty, while others are pushing for a shorter extension to allow lawmakers more time to craft a long-term solution. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) recently told reporters that he does not believe Congress will be able resolve these differences before the authority expires. Wicker believes a more likely outcome would be for a short-term extension to be attached to a continuing resolution that would run until the end of the year. Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said the two sides simply to do not have a deal yet.
Broadband Funding Could Be in Next Farm Bill: Increased funding for broadband in rural areas could end up in the 2023 Farm Bill. In a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday, lawmakers heard testimony from Xochitl Torres Small, the undersecretary for rural development at the Department of Agriculture, who served on the Rural Broadband Task Force during her time in the House. Broadband programs, like the five administered by the USDA, fund internet bandwidth in rural areas. The 2018 Farm Bill included an extra $350 million for rural broadband loans and grants.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
Senators Press TikTok on China Access: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to investigate social media platforms and their threat to national security. During the hearing, Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-OH) repeatedly asked TikTok, Inc.’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas to say the company would seal off Chinese access to all U.S. data. Pappas declined to do so, instead saying that the company will continue to cooperate with federal agencies in drafting an agreement to protect U.S. user data. “Our final agreement to the U.S. government will satisfy all national security concerns,” Pappas testified.
Pappas was among a group of executives from the biggest social media companies who faced skeptical questions from the panel over whether their need to attract users is at odds with restricting hate speech, as former employees had alleged in testimony earlier in the day. Also appearing before the panel were Neal Mohan, chief product officer at Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube; Chris Cox, Meta Platforms Inc.’s chief product officer; and Jay Sullivan, general manager of Bluebird at Twitter Inc. Legislators peppered the executives with questions on whether the businesses amplify misinformation or violence-inciting posts to boost engagement on the platforms.
The hearing came a day after Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified in front of a separate Senate committee about his allegations that Twitter’s lack of security protections pose a threat to the US. Zatko claimed Twitter has looked the other way while foreign agents accessed sensitive data on U.S. users. Efforts to regulate the companies have so far stalled in Congress amid partisan disagreements and a lobbying surge by the tech giants and their trade groups.
Biden Orders Federal Software Suppliers to Tighten Security: Software companies doing business with the U.S. government such as Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. will have to attest that their products comply with new national cybersecurity standards under White House rules published Wednesday. The requirements, published in a memo from the Office of Management and Budget, are intended to avoid a repeat of the 2020 SolarWinds hack, in which nine federal agencies were compromised.
The new guidance has been expected since President Biden signed an executive order in May 2021 to improve the nation’s cybersecurity that followed a string of damaging hacks including SolarWinds and an attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline Co. system. But the OMB rules immediately drew criticism from some cybersecurity experts who regard the requirements as too weak. Under the memo, producers of critical software must “self-attest” to federal agencies that they are in compliance with the new development standards. The guidance also requires federal agencies to conduct inventories in the next 90 days to ensure third-party software on government information systems complies with standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
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