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WASHINGTON WATCH: September 12, 2023



 


THE LONG GAME: Time running out to pass CR; McCarthy endorses impeachment inquiry

The House returns to work with just 11 legislative days remaining to pass a stopgap bill to fund the government. Some conservative lawmakers are embracing the prospect of a government shutdown to enact spending cuts and make policy changes.  Members of the House Freedom Caucus insist that any continuing resolution must include a House-passed bill that funds restrictive border policies and must address what it calls the “the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI.” On the Senate side, many Republicans have expressed dismay with the approach taken by House conservatives. In fact, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued support for a White House proposal to add $40 billion in emergency funding to the stopgap bill to fund relief for natural disasters and the war in Ukraine. The full House has passed just one of the 12 appropriations bills for FY24.


Efforts to fund the government will take place against the backdrop of a Republican-led impeachment inquiry of President Biden. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced Tuesday morning that he is directing three House committees-- House Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways and Means-- to open a formal inquiry. House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-KY) has already held multiple hearings on Biden and his family. An inquiry, while placating the Republican base, poses major risks for the GOP among swing voters. A recent PPP poll conducted in the 18 Republican-held districts won by President Biden in 2020 showed that about 56% of voters in these districts said an impeachment inquiry would represent “a partisan political stunt.”


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



 



Spotlight on Puerto Rico


uerto Rico schools cancel classes due to excessive heat 

The Puerto Rican Department of Education announced school closures last week amidst record-breaking temperatures, with the heat index in some areas hitting 114 degrees. Most schools in Puerto Rico lack air conditioning and heat-related emergencies have been reported in about half of the public schools on the Island. Temperature records have been broken throughout the summer, including 47 straight nights with the thermostat over 80 degrees. August was also the hottest month in recorded history on the Island. To address the current crisis, the Department of Education is considering adjusting school hours.  

Hurricane Lee to bypass Puerto Rico but damage still expected

Hurricane Lee is expected to continue to grow and slow down this week as it moves up the east coast, though the National Hurricane Center forecasts that its intensity will likely drop from the current Category 3 storm level. The storm, even if it misses hitting land this week, is still expected to bring rainstorms, strong winds, and coastal flooding. There will be huge waves hitting the east coast that will likely cause coastal erosion, dangerous surf, and potentially life-threatening rip currents.

UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub celebrates five years 

The University of Central Florida’s Puerto Rico Research Hub (PRRH), which marks five years this week, has received a $500,000 research grant from Congress. The PRRH has conducted research on housing, jobs, healthcare, social integration, and education of the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida and around the country. Hurricane Maria, led to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans to resettle in Central Florida.  Beginning in 2018, the research hub also provided in-state tuition for displaced Puerto Ricans. 

Puerto Rico receives $158 million for broadband infrastructure 

Puerto Rico will soon receive $158 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop broadband infrastructure. The funding will cover two initiatives. The first is $85.7 million for the Submarine Cable Resiliency Program that will construct an underwater fiber optic route between Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The second initiative is $64.7 million to fund Puerto Rico’s Multipurpose Community Technology Center program, which will create internet access centers across the Island. The remaining $7.9 million will go toward administrative costs.




 

View From The White House



  • The Biden Administration announced last week that four million people had enrolled in the student debt relief "Saving on A Valuable Education” (or “SAVE”) Plan.

  • Arguing that the loss of access to a key abortion pill would be “damaging for women and healthcare providers around the Nation," the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court on Friday to reconsider a lower-court ruling that would limit access to the medication, mifepristone.

  • The White House announced on Wednesday that it would bar drilling in 13 million acres in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and scrap all drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


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