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THE LONG GAME: Appropriations fights heat up; Trump expungement push

Floor action on appropriations bills is expected to begin this week. First up will be legislation funding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and military construction and the Department of Agriculture, two bills that normally pass without many fireworks. That might not be the case this year, however, as controversial amendments restricting abortion and cutting food programs are likely to be brought up by members of the House Freedom Caucus. Additionally, Axios reported that some Republicans from swing districts will oppose the Ag spending bill because of a provision reversing FDA guidance allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be sent by mail and dispensed at pharmacies. Don’t expect smooth sailing on the House floor for other appropriations bills, either. Last week's House Appropriations Committee’s mark-up for the Department of Transportation erupted into a heated fight over culture war issues as Republicans, led by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), moved to strike earmarks for centers serving the LGBTQ+ community. The amendment was approved on a party-line vote. With a September 30 deadline looming, and vast differences between House and Senate spending priorities, a government shutdown this fall is certainly not out of the question. 

Will there be a vote on the House floor to expunge Donald Trump’s two impeachments? That was the question being asked last week after Politico reported Thursday that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had promised the former president that such a vote would take place. According to the report, Trump was furious with the Speaker’s refusal to endorse his 2024 election bid. McCarthy later denied that he had made such a pledge, although he said that he supports expungement. In June, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the Republican conference chair, and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced resolutions to expunge Trump’s impeachments. On Sunday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blasted Republicans who support the move. “This is about being afraid,” Pelosi told CNN. “These people look pathetic.” Some GOP members, especially those from swing districts, are urging McCarthy not to bring the measure up for a vote, saying that expungement is unnecessary since Trump was acquitted by the Senate. But, it’s unclear whether the Speaker can deny the Republican base something it so fervently wants.

Washington Watch is published weekly when Congress is in session. Published monthly during extended recess or adjournment.


Spotlight on Puerto Rico

Environmental Justice Advisory Council to hold first-ever meeting in Puerto Rico 

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will meet in Puerto Rico this week for the first time in its 30-year history. NEJAC is a federal advisory committee providing independent advice and recommendations to the EPA on issues related to environmental justice. This event follows last year’s visit by EPA Administrator Michael Regan on his “Journey to Justice” tour. NEJAC leaders announced that they are in Puerto Rico because they want to ensure everyone in the U.S. has the same degree of protection from health hazards while gaining equal access to the EPA decision-making process. The meeting will be free, open to the public, and available to attend both in person and virtually. 

Puerto Rico energy regulator sets September 1 deadline for bids 

The Puerto Rican Energy Bureau (PREB), the independent energy regulator established to ensure execution and implementation of the government’s energy policy, has announced a September 1, 2023 deadline for bids to the Island’s renewable energy and storage procurement process. The Request for Proposals (RFP) doubles proposed storage capacity to as many as 1,000 MW, with contract terms for as long as 20-25 years. The RFP and other documents are available here.  

Rooftop solar project announced in Aguadilla 

EDPR NA Distributed Generation LLC and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico have signed a 21-year agreement that allows EDPR to install a new rooftop solar system at LTPR’s Aguadilla facility. The installation will cover 95-100% of the facility’s energy needs, saving $10 million in operating costs while generating 3 million kWh of energy annually. Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico is an aviation maintenance company based at the Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla since 2014.

Exhibit showcases role of Puerto Rican women in civil rights efforts

A new installation called “Encendidas” in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Honeycomb Project located on "Paseo Boricua" is highlighting the role played by Puerto Rican woman who were part of the “Young Lordettes” during the civil rights era. They were a spinoff of the “Young Lords” gang and organized in 1965 to lead community improvement efforts in Chicago. The exhibit provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the role Puerto Rican women played in improving Chicago public schools, housing, and social programs during the 1960s.


View From The White House

  • President Biden will announce the creation of a national monument to honor Emmet Till, the 14-year old whose 1955 murder in Mississippi galvanized the civil rights movement.

  • In response to a number of high-profile corporate mergers, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission unveiled 13 new guidelines they will follow when reviewing such deals.

  • The Bureau of Land Management announced a new rule that would increase fees associated with drilling on public lands.



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