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October 30, 2023

What to expect in Washington (October 30)

The dust is still settling from the three-week process of electing a new Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA), and much of the press coverage has focused on positions he has taken in the past and his ascension to the post, rather than how he will conduct the House's business in the future.

A Washington Post story said Rep. Johnson assured other members "that he would no longer represent just his conservative Louisiana district … Instead, Johnson continued, he would represent the entire Republican conference and protect vulnerable swing-district incumbents." Further, "Many Republican lawmakers remarked on how modest and easygoing Johnson is. However, one lawmaker surmised that they had never exchanged harsh words with him only because they had never engaged in substantive policy or political debate with the Louisiana lawmaker."

An October 28 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) story, "New Speaker Mike Johnson Gets 'Grace Period' as He Reboots House," said, "For many House Republicans, all is right with the world, three weeks after the ouster of Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif), with many brushing aside the existential fears that built during the party's crisis. The question is how long Johnson's honeymoon period will last and whether the party could end up in a similar bind down the road: Republicans still have a thin 221-212 majority, sharp intraparty divisions and a rule allowing any single member to call a vote to remove the speaker."

The House is out of session until Wednesday, November 1. Under the schedule set by Speaker Johnson to pursue regular-order consideration of spending bills, the week of October 30 is Legislative Branch, Interior & Environment, and Transportation-HUD; the week of November 6, Financial Services & General Government and Commerce, Justice, Science; then, the week of November 13, Labor-HHS and Agriculture. The Ways & Means Committee does not currently have any hearings scheduled.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. today (October 30) with a judicial nomination vote at 5:30 p.m. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has taken a procedural step (filing cloture) toward a vote on the nomination of former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to be Ambassador to Israel. Work is also expected to continue on the three-bill appropriations minibus comprising the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD bills.

On Thursday, November 2, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of former Maryland Governor (and Baltimore Mayor and presidential candidate) Martin O'Malley to be Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

AI — The White House is planning to release an executive order on artificial intelligence as soon as today (October 30) that is expected to address requirements for federal agencies to conduct National Institute of Standards and Technology assessments of AI models, visa changes for foreign technology workers, and an assessment of how government agencies can incorporate AI into their operations. Politico obtained a copy of the White House executive order on AI that is set to be released Monday and did a pretty broad breakdown, saying it would "streamline high-skilled immigration, create a raft of new government offices and task forces and pave the way for the use of more AI in nearly every facet of life touched by the federal government, from health care to education, trade to housing, and more."

The Washington Post reported Senator Schumer as saying October 26, "There's probably a limit to what you can do by executive order," noting that Congress has previously passed proposals to deal with AI that have gone unfunded. He added of the Administration, "They are concerned, and they're doing a lot regulatorily, but everyone admits the only real answer is legislative."

The Senate HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety will hold a hearing on "AI and the Future of Work: Moving Forward Together," on Tuesday, October 31 (at 10 a.m.)

Health — A story in today's WSJ said, "the Biden administration wants to impose new requirements on insurers that it says would reduce out-of-pocket costs for mental-health care and substance-use-disorder treatment. The insurance industry is firing back, arguing the proposal would drive up prices and set impossible-to-meet standards."


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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
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