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WASHINGTON WATCH: June 20, 2023



 

THE LONG GAME: Shutdown risk looms; Schiff censure defeated

With the ink barely dry on the deal to prevent a government default, many insiders are warning of the possibility of another looming crisis this fall: a government shutdown. The first challenge is the fact that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) asked that each of the 12 appropriations bills be voted on separately, rather than as part of one large omnibus bill. The bills must pass by October 1 to keep the government operating. Second, conservative members have ratcheted up the pressure to impose deep cuts. As part of a deal with members of the House Freedom Caucus reached last week to allow the House to resume legislative business, McCarthy reportedly agreed to write FY 2024 appropriations bills that fund programs at 2022 levels. Senate appropriators, meanwhile, will likely write bills that fund the government at 2023 amounts, as called for by the debt ceiling deal. The ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), said that it “is a prelude to a shutdown — what they are engineering.” According to Roll Call, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday that “shutting down the government is in their DNA,” calling them “irresponsible individuals.” All of this makes for an unsettling summer on Capitol Hill.


In a notable victory for Democrats in the GOP-controlled House, members defeated a resolution to censure and fine Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) based on his leading role in investigating former President Donald Trump. Schiff is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Republicans blocked his reappointment to the panel earlier this year. The resolution, sponsored by freshman Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), would have imposed a fine of $16 million—half the cost of the investigation by a special counsel into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia—if the House Ethics Committee found that Schiff had “lied, made misrepresentations and abused sensitive information.” Luna reportedly told Schiff that she would try to pass the resolution again, perhaps without the fine. More than 20 Republicans voted either “present” or against the resolution. For his part, Schiff said that he was “flattered they think I’m so effective they have to go after me in this way."


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

 


Spotlight on Puerto Rico



New York state pledges $20 Million for CENTRO

The State of New York will make a $20 Million investment in CENTRO, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY). The investment will support an expansion of the library and archives in El Barrio, the center of New York’s Puerto Rican community. Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement during the 66th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade last week in Manhattan. CENTRO is the largest university-based research institute in America dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience in the U.S. Besides research support, the $20 Million will be used to consolidate CENTRO from its two locations at the Hunter College Main Campus and in East Harlem into one expanded facility, which will also include a state-of-the-art exhibition space.

Bristol-Myers Squibb announces closure

Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb has announced that it will close operations in Humacao, directly impacting 400 jobs and hundreds more indirectly. Bristol-Myers Squibb points to the high costs of energy on the Island as a reason for ceasing operations there, though they pledge to maintain primary operations in Manatí and its sales, marketing, and distribution office in Guaynabo. Some of the Humacao employees will be given the option to transfer to other corporate facilities on and off the Island while others will be offered retirement packages.  

PREPA’s debt plan reduced

Citing steeper-than-expected declines in energy consumption across Puerto Rico, the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) is amending its plan to reduce PREPA’s $9 Billion debt. The proposed plan would reduce PREPA’s obligations to $5.68 Billion. The requested changes will likely delay a court hearing on the restructuring plan, currently on the docket for next month. PREPA has been in bankruptcy for the past six years but remains the primary supplier of energy on the island.

Leadership change at LUMA

LUMA Energy President Wayne Stensby has left his position leading the privatization of Puerto Rico’s energy market. The governor called for Stensby’s resignation a year ago when blackouts roiled the Island. Stensby will join another utility giant in Canada. Meanwhile, new LUMA President Juan Saca will take the reins, following a career that has taken him to leading corporations in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Israel, and across the United States. 




 

View From The White House



  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for 35 minutes with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, the second day of his visit aimed at easing tensions between the two countries. 

  • The Bureau of Land Management announced a proposed new rule on Thursday that would slash fees for solar and wind development on public lands by 80 percent.

  • President Biden vetoed SJ Res. 11, a GOP-backed bill intended to roll back an EPA rule that set stronger emissions standards on model year 2027 heavy-duty vehicles.




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