It’s been a quiet week since both the House and Senate were adjourned, but business has continued behind the scenes even though they haven’t been on the floor.
Committee assignments are an important milestone in the legislative process, especially this year with a new Speaker. Committee chairs also have a powerful role to play in the process. The chairperson of each committee will decide which bills get a hearing and are brought to a vote. Only if a bill receives a hearing and is successfully voted from the committee will it receive further consideration.
Now that committees were announced, the House could begin reading and referring bills to committees when they return next Tuesday. It will then be up to the chairs to set hearings, but it will probably be several more weeks before those start.
Shifting to Washington, the U.S. Senate spent all night in session to pass a budget resolution that includes President Biden’s $1.9 billion stimulus package. The unusual process also allowed both parties to add several amendments of interest. The “messaging amendments” don’t do much, but they reflect the Senate’s current sentiment.
Most notably in these amendments, they narrowly voted to maintain former President Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the onerous Obama-era WOTUS rule. There was also a bipartisan vote to oppose stimulus checks to illegal immigrants, delay any increase in the minimum wage until after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and support the Keystone XL oil pipeline. A vote to oppose any future carbon tax failed along party lines, but they did vote 99-1 to support funding for rural health care facilities in the stimulus package.
As I said, they don’t hold any real weight, but they reflect the Senate’s current thoughts, which means some of the provisions will likely find their way into the final budget reconciliation bill.
Here at TSCRA’s government relations office, we are still full steam ahead on the Texas legislative session and have been busy meeting with legislators and legislative staff to work on all types of different issues.
If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out Carl Ray Polk’s latest editorial in The Cattleman magazine. The article addresses the need for rural broadband, which will be a priority for the legislative session. During Gov. Abbott’s State of the State address on Tuesday evening, the Governor identified rural broadband as one of his five emergency items to be considered in the first 60 days of the session.
The other four emergency items were: election integrity, bail reform, preventing cities from defunding police and civil liability protections for businesses that could face lawsuits from remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s all for this week, so until next time!
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of policy communications and government relations for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.