Washington Update - February 13, 2023

Billy Moore    Dc2

President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address last week, stressing his Administration’s accomplishments, bipartisan opportunities and policy proposals that are strongly opposed by Republicans. He engaged with Republicans angered by his spotlight on Senator Rick Scott’s proposal to require new legislative authority for Social Security and Medicare, concluding by claiming agreement the programs should not be cut.

The House passed nine bills last week, most with bipartisan support, and a resolution condemning China for its balloon overflight of the U.S. The Senate confirmed a circuit court judge. The House is not in session this week. Senators will continue confirmations and could take up bipartisan House-passed legislation to end COVID vaccination requirements for foreign travelers.

President Biden’s State of the Union address detailed recent economic accomplishments, including rising economic growth, employment and slowing inflation – successes that polls show are barely registering with the American people. Many of his policy proposals enjoy bipartisan congressional support and could advance, including health research, disruption of fentanyl distribution, and limiting social media impacts on children.

Many of his other policy initiatives face Republican opposition and have little prospects for progressing, such as restoring abortion rights, restrictions on firearms, police reforms, and expanding health care coverage.

The 2024 budget and debt ceiling were a focus of the speech, and although President Biden seemed to win a concession from Republicans on Social Security and Medicare cuts, the speech did little to establish a larger consensus. House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington has ruled out any revenue increases, which are likely to be central to President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal, while proposing spending cuts for nutrition, environmental, student loan, and health care programs. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not committed to Arrington’s suggestions. The President and the Speaker plan to continue debt limit talks, perhaps this week.