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Eye on Congress January 20, 2021

Date: January 19, 2021
This week, the 117th Congress returns to Washington. At noon EST on Wednesday, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
On his first day in office and in the following days, he is expected to sign a number of executive orders and take other executive actions that focus on four key areas as identified by his team – the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.
Of particular interest to suppliers are planned actions that will: have the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate change agreement; increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour; trigger a broad immigration overhaul that will not expand the number of H1B visas; and jump start a targeted approach to COVID-19 response. Many of these priorities were outlined in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan released last week.

On Capitol Hill, three new Democratic Senators will be sworn-in, Alex Padilla (Calif.), Jon Ossoff (Ga.), and Raphael Warnock (Ga.), bringing the party division to a 50-50 split. On Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) met to discuss how the parties will share power with the even split. Technically, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris will be the tie breaking vote, giving the Democrats control of the Senate.

The Senate has begun holding hearings on Biden’s nominees to the Cabinet. On Tuesday, Senate Finance heard testimony from Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) questioned the nominee on mid-size suppliers. Pete Buttigieg, nominee for Secretary of Transportation, will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday. Other Cabinet-level nominees testifying before the Senate Committees State, Homeland Security, and Defense nominees as well as the nominee to serve as director of national intelligence.

The House is in session this week with a possibility of votes Thursday and Friday. The Senate is also in session.

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