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This Week in Congress

This week, the Senate worked to finalize gun violence legislation, the House continued with the January 6th Committee Hearings, and the Supreme Court offered final rulings on pending cases.  House Democratic leaders presented bills that would formally establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health; require certain federal agencies to collect data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variation in sex characteristics; and expand access to benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty.  Additionally, the House voted on legislation that would require the Justice Department to coordinate an alert system to notify communities of nearby active shooters, along with a package of addiction and mental health legislation.

The Senate revealed their gun violence legislation, Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and the two pending main issues of contention were directing funds to states to establish red flag laws and closing the “boyfriend loophole.” The legislation aimed at improving background checks, securing schools and giving states federal funds to combat gun violence.  Congress is expected to have a final vote on the Act prior to the 4th of July Recess.  Meanwhile, the Senate continued to hold nomination votes this week.

Off the floor, conferees continued their discussions on a bill that seeks to improve U.S. competition with China, including $52 billion for semiconductors.  Meanwhile, progress continued between the White House and congressional leaders on legislation that aims to fight inflation, rein in the deficit, and revive parts of President Biden’s stalled economic agenda. The package would likely include capping the price of insulin and federal funding for both clean energy and fossil fuels, while also further reducing the budget deficit and boosting taxes on the wealthy, corporations or both, per what I am hearing from congressional staff.

Late last week, the President signed into law the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which we supported.    Additionally, President Biden asked Congress to enact a three-month gasoline tax holiday.  The pause in gas tax collections would last through September.  Per the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, when some states have opted to suspend their own fuel taxes in the past, sometimes prices come back higher than what they would have been had the tax-holiday never occurred.