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  • Writer's pictureMichael McAuliff

What Are They Doing To Us Today, on July 12?

As with every day on Capitol Hill, they are doing lots.

The high-profile event that is likely to get the most attention is:

10 - The House Judiciary Committee has FBI Director Christopher Wray up in the hot seat. With House Speaker Kevin McCarthy running an op-ed on Fox News's website accusing the DOJ and FBI of going soft on the Bidens, there is likely to be yelling.

On The Floors:

The Senate is in at 10, with a long day of nominations, voting at 11:30 on the confirmation of Tiffany Cartwright to be a district judge for western Washington, and cloture on the nomination of Myong Joun to be a district judge for Massachusetts. Then, at about 2:30, they'll do the confirmation of Joun and cloture on the nomination of Kalpana Kotagal to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Wrapping up votes at 5:30 will be the confirmation of Kotagal and cloture on the nomination of David Uhlmann to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The House is in at 10, with the start of work on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2024. They start with one vote today, at about 1:30, then begin work on some 270 amendments.

Hill Pressers:

10 - Congressional-Executive Commission on China Chair Chris Smith holds press conference with Pastor Pan Yongguang. House Triangle.

10 - ML Scalise, Whip Emmer, Conference Chair Stefanik, House Republicans hold post-meeting press conference. HC-8.

10:45 - Democratic Caucus Chair Aguilar, Vice Chair Lieu, DCCC Chair DelBene hold press conference. House Studio A.

Noon - Select Committee on Chinese Communist Party hosts interfaith roundtable on the CCP's threat to religious freedom. For credentialed media. H-144, The Capitol.

1:30 - Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Waters, Rep. Vargas, Rep. Casten, Sustainable Investment Caucus, et al hold post-Financial Services hearing press conference. House Triangle.

2:30 - House Administration Chair Steil et al on the American Confidence in Elections Act. House Triangle.

4:15 - Rep. Yvette Clarke et al. on reintroduction of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act. House Triangle.

Looking at the Hearings

10 - Senate Judiciary has nominations:

Jerry Edwards, Jr. to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, and Brandon S. Long to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

A bit about Edwards, who would be the first African American on bench in the Western District of Louisiana, and Long, from the Shreveport Times.

Matthew James Maddox is up to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland. A bit from the Vetting Room.

Philip S. Hadji is tapped to be a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims. The White House Release is here. If you're curious about the case he made when he was a student that the Kurds should have their own state in Iraq, that's here.

10 - The Budget Committee is looking at "Protecting Social Security for All: Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share." Robert Reich, the former labor secretary and current professor at the University of California, Berkeley, took a look at the basic argument here last week. Essentially, he notes that while Congress acted in 1983 to cover the cost of his Boomer generation's retirement by raising the retirement age to 67, it has done nothing to account for what is driving current and looming shortfalls that would lead to benefits being slashed to 77% in about a decade if nothing is done.

What is driving the falling income for Social Security? Reich says it's the rich getting a greater and greater share of the nation's income. Remember, Social Security is funded by taxes on income from your work, but the tax vanishes once you crack $160,000 in earnings for the year. As Reich notes, "A big part of the American working population today is earning less than the Social Security trustees anticipated years ago — reducing revenue flowing into the program. At the same time, a much larger chunk of the nation’s total income is now going to the top compared to decades ago."

That means more of the nation's income escapes the Social Security tax. Reich's solution -- and presumably Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's -- would be to raise that $160,000 cap.

Republicans have expressed no interest in anything that raise taxes. While Republicans in charge of the House have not offered a budget yet, the Republican Study Committee, which represents 175 members of the conference, has proposed raising the retirement age again, while they go the other direction on taxes to preserve the 2017 tax cuts from the Trump administration that largely benefitted wealthy tax payers. Those are the folks that Reich and many Democrats would like to see pay more into Social Security, not the shrinking percentage we see now.

Over in the Senate Commerce Committee, we expect the confirmation votes for FCC commissioners, including Anna Gomez, a former telecom lawyer who got the nod after conservative and corporate lobbying tanked the nomination of Gigi Sohn. Also getting votes renominated commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Brendan Carr, as well as Fara Damelin to be Inspector General of the FCC. Alvin Brown is getting a vote to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Gomez vote is notable because Sohn's withdrawal left a bitter taste in the mouths of her supporters, who saw the defeat as win by lobbyists who ran a smear campaign with scant and ineffective response from the Democrats -- which they say as offering incentive for future such campaigns.

The votes can be watched here.

2:30 - The Senate Banking Committee's subcommittee on Economic Policy is looking at "Bank Mergers and the Economic Impacts of Consolidation." This is an Elizabeth Warren special that is likely to be illuminating. For instance who knew that the numbers of banks in this country have declined from 15,000 in 1990 to just a bit more than 4,000 today? That's per the testimony of Morgan Harper, formerly of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and now

director of policy and advocacy at the left-leaning American Economic Liberties Project.

One interesting note here is that the GOP witness, Michael Faulkender, a professor at the University of Maryland and economist with the America First Policy Institute, is that he also sees problems with declining small and regional banks. But his testimony points to different reasons, including unintended consequences of federal regulations.

2:30 - Energy and Natural Resources has a raft of land and conservation bills that senators are hearing testimony on. Without digging into each of these, most look like conservation measures or attempts to help local jurisdictions with parks or recreation. However, land deals often come with ulterior motives, and if there is time to look, it's often worth it. For instance, this deal to help establish a copper mine on sacred Native American lands in Arizona was marked by corruption before it was slipped into a must-pass defense bill in 2017.

What C-Span is watching:

10 am - Christopher Wray

2 pm: Hearing on Welfare Assistance Programs

Work and Welfare Subcommittee of House Ways and Means Committee hearing on programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and more, C-SPAN3, C-SPAN Radio, & C-SPAN Now

3 pm: Hearing on Artificial Intelligence

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property holds a hearing on artificial intelligence and intellectual property,

Note: This is a developing feature, and is intended to become more comprehensive in coming days. It will also likely change in format and migrate to an email delivery system. Please send suggestions or comments to the contact link on this site, or email me, michaelgmcauliff (at) gmail.


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