If you wake up at 3:47 Eastern Standard Time tomorrow, you can welcome the vernal equinox in person. The NCAA basketball tournament has started, baseball is only two weeks away, and we have (almost) made it through another winter. Congratulations.
Is this the year for housing finance reform?
Call us incurable optimists, but Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on the state of US housing sounded remarkably bipartisan. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), the Committee’s ranking member, issued a set of principles for GSE reform on Monday that shares several elements with proposals offered by Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) last year. Witnesses and Senators discussed several proposals to make homeownership easier for first-time homebuyers, but all agreed on the critical need to address the nationwide shortage of affordable housing. Senators on both sides of the aisle, from both urban and rural constituencies, stressed that these housing shortages are already constraining economic growth, as the lack of housing makes it impossible to attract new workers.
Senate Foreign Relations will mark up China legislation on April 14
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), and their staffs will work through the April recess to bring bipartisan legislation on relations with China to a Committee vote on April 14, Menendez said at a hearing on Wednesday. Witnesses told the Committee that China represents a profound and growing threat to US political, economic, and security interests around the world, and stressed the need for the US to resume a leadership position among its allies to counter China’s assault on democratic values. Menendez said that the Committee’s bill would lay out a new strategic framework and organizing principles for strategic competition with China.
House approves PPP extension, Senate to act next week
The House of Representatives voted 415-3 on Tuesday to extend the deadline for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications to May 31, and to give the SBA until June 30 to process those applications. Witnesses told the Senate Small Business Committee on Wednesday how important it was to extend that deadline, since the American Rescue Plan changed the rules for PPP eligibility and made it possible for more businesses and nonprofit organizations to seek help. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will bring the House bill to a vote on the Senate floor next week.
Businesses, CBP need more information about supply chains
The Senate Finance Committee held a well-attended virtual hearing yesterday to discuss how best to fight forced labor around the world and keep products produced with forced labor out of US markets. Supply chain transparency is the key to this, witnesses told the Committee, but US Customs and Border Protection has only recently begun to communicate better with the private sector and non-governmental organizations about enforcement efforts, and the Department of Justice has yet to use its authority to prosecute forced labor violations outside the United States. Because the pandemic has made on-site inspections of international manufacturing sites impossible, witnesses said, US apparel companies and others have simply cut trade ties to regions known to be sites of forced labor, such as China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
Waters, Beatty call for reporting on diversity
At a hearing yesterday, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Subcommittee on Diversity & Inclusion Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) called for new requirements that regulated financial services providers collect and disclose data on diversity. Yesterday’s hearing discussed four pieces of legislation that would make Dodd-Frank’s diversity data reporting mandatory instead of discretionary, and would extend those requirements to investment advisers as well as depository institutions. “By any measurement,” Beatty said, “voluntary self-assessment of diversity and inclusion performances . . . has failed to meet the spirit and intent of the statute.” The Subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), acknowledged the need for more and better data, but said it was important to be flexible enough to allow for differences in size and demographics.
Supplemental leverage ratio (SLR) will expire on March 31, Fed says
The Federal Reserve Board announced today that the emergency changes to the supplementary leverage ratio adopted to make more liquidity available during the pandemic will expire as scheduled on March 31. The Fed had temporarily excluded US Treasury securities and central bank reserves from the formula to calculate SLRs. That exclusion will end this month, but the Fed said it might “need to address the current design and calibration of the SLR over time to prevent strains from developing.”
|Confirmations, Nominations, Departures|
|President Biden will nominate former Florida Senator Bill Nelson to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Nelson, who was Florida’s Treasurer from 1995-2001, served three terms in the US Senate after nine terms in the US House of Representatives, and was the first member of the US House of Representatives to go into space, as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia in January 1986.|
The Senate confirmed the nomination of William J. Burns to be Director of Central Intelligence by voice vote.
The Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Senate voted 98-0 to confirm Katherine C. Tai as US Trade Representative.
The Senate voted 81-17 to confirm Isabella Casillas Guzman as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
The Senate voted 51-40 to confirm Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior.
|The Week Ahead|
|March 22 at 11:00 a.m. House Energy & Commerce Committee holds a hearing on “LIFT America: Revitalizing our Nation’s Infrastructure and Economy.”|
March 23 at 11:00 a.m. House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on “The Water Resources Development Act of 2020: Status of Essential Provisions.”
March 23 at 12:00 noon House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell will testify.
March 23 at 12:00 noon House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure holds a hearing on “The Interaction between the Paycheck Protection Program and Federal Acquisition Rules: What it Means for Government Contractors.”
March 24 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing to receive the quarterly CARES Act report from Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell.
March 24 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation holds a hearing on “Driving the Road to Recovery: Rebuilding America’s Transportation Infrastructure.”
March 24 at 12:00 noon House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance holds a hearing on “Preserving a Lifeline: Examining Public Housing in a Pandemic.”
March 24 at 2:30 p.m. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship held a hearing on “Oversight of SBA’s COVID-19 Relief Programs,” with testimony from Small Business Administration officials and the SBA’s Inspector General.
March 25 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on “American Rescue Plan: Shots in Arms and Money in Pockets.”
March 25 at 11:00 a.m. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing on “The Administration’s Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure.”
March 25 at 12:00 noon House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy holds a hearing on “Ending Exploitation: How the Financial System Can Work to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.”
March 25 at 2:30 p.m. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies holds a hearing on “Creating Equitable Communities through Transportation and Housing.”
|The Ellis Insight – Jim Ellis on political news|
Alabama: Huntsville area Congressman Mo Brooks (R), who ran in the 2017 special US Senate election after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) was confirmed as US Attorney General and placed a distant third in the Republican primary, looks ready to make another attempt. Reports suggest that the Congressman will announce for the open 2022 Senate race on Monday.
The only other person so far declared is former US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard (R) who has the ability and desire to self-fund her campaign effort. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R), and Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) have all said they will not run for the Senate. No other Republican member of the congressional delegation appears to be making moves to build a statewide effort at this time.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) may compete for the Democratic Senate nomination, however. Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has already announced that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.
Georgia: The Trafalgar Group and Insider Advantage teamed to field a poll again testing the Georgia electorate, and the results look familiar. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), the special election winner who now stands for a full six-year term in 2022, would have a tenuous lead over two Republicans but slightly trails a third.
The poll (3/7-9; 1,093 GA likely voters; interactive response system and online) found Sen. Warnock leading former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)46-41%. He would edge former US Rep. Doug Collins (R), 46-45%, but trails former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), 46-48%. Tight polling throughout the 2020 election cycle culminated in Sen. Warnock winning a 51-49% January runoff election against Ms. Loeffler.
Iowa: Retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken (D), who challenged 2020 Senate nominee Theresa Greenfield in the Democratic primary and lost 48-25%, says he will run against Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) next year. Speculation is rampant that Sen. Grassley, who will be 89 years of age before the next election, will retire. This week, however, the Senator filed a 2022 committee with the Federal Election Commission and says he hasn’t yet made up his mind about another run.
Utah: Sen. Mike Lee (R) has drawn a primary challenge. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards (R), who participated in a women’s organization that opposed former President Trump’s re-election, says she will contest Sen. Lee for the Republican nomination next year. Ms. Edwards will likely fare poorly in the state nominating convention but does have the option of petitioning onto the statewide primary ballot. Sen. Lee is a heavy favorite for the party nomination and re-election.
Wisconsin: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is being coy about whether or not he will seek re-election to a third term – he made a two-term limit promise when he first ran in 2010 – but he is definitive about his intentions concerning one state office. In no uncertain terms, Sen. Johnson said late this week during a radio interview, “…but if I run for anything, it’s not going to be for Governor.”
AZ-2: Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson), who has been in and out of Congress since the beginning of 2009, announced on Friday that she will not seek re-election next year. She is the first House member to opt for retirement after the 2022 election.
Ms. Kirkpatrick was first elected in the 1st District back in 2008 after serving a term in the Arizona House of Representatives. She was defeated for re-election in 2010 but came back in 2012 and served until 2016 when she unsuccessfully ran for US Senate. She returned to Congress from the Tucson district in 2018 and was re-elected last November. Combined, she has served five non-consecutive US House terms. Surgeon and state Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson) is the first name mentioned as the Congresswoman’s potential successor.
MN-8: Two-term Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Hermantown/ Duluth) announced this week that he will not make a statewide run for Governor next year, choosing instead to attempt to win another term in the House. With Minnesota likely losing a seat to reapportionment, and the northern part of the state being the least populated suggests that Mr. Stauber could see a very different 2022 congressional race. A possible pairing with freshman Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Regal) is certainly a potential outcome.
NE-2: After a brief flirtation with running for Governor, Nebraska three-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) announced mid-week that he will remain in the House and seek re-election next year instead of entering the open statewide Republican primary race. Sen. Deb Fischer (R) previously confirmed that she is considering running for Governor and apparently remains a potential candidate, as are several other statewide officials. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
NM-1: US Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) being confirmed as Interior Department Secretary has led to a very crowded special election to replace her in the House. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) scheduled the special election to fill New Mexico’s vacant 1st Congressional District for June 1st, and the candidate field could exceed 20 contenders. The party central committees, internally elected governing authorities with representatives from every county, will nominate the respective party candidates on March 27th (Republicans) and March 30th (Democrats).
Already, eight Democrats, eight Republicans, and an Independent have announced their intentions to run. The Democratic field features four sitting state legislators. Republican state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) looks to be the most serious GOP candidate, but the eventual Democratic finalist will be the heavy favorite to win the seat.
OH-11: In a bit of a surprising move, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has set a long calendar to fill the state’s vacant 11th Congressional District now that former Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) has taken her position as Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. Ohio has a law that allows special elections to be scheduled only in May, August, and November.
Most believed he would schedule the primary for May 7th to coincide with the state’s municipal election calendar, but he chose to set the primary election on August 3rd, instead. The special general election will now be November 2nd, concurrent with the state’s off-year election day.
WA-4: After Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside/Yakima) voted to impeach then-President Trump in the second such proceeding, he began drawing Republican opposition for his 2022 re-election. State House Republican Caucus Vice Chairman Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) originally announced his intention to challenge Rep. Newhouse soon after the impeachment vote and remains in the race.
Now, businessman and ex-NASCAR race driver Jarrod Sessler (R) says he will become a candidate. Loren Culp (R), the 2020 gubernatorial finalist and former local Sheriff, made comments last week suggesting that he could enter the congressional race, but now appears to be backing away from that statement.
California: The petition signature deadline for the Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recall drive occurred on March 17th, and organizers announced they submitted over 2.1 million signatures. To qualify, the recall effort needs 1,495,709 valid signatures.
A new Emerson College Poll for the Nextar Media Group, an organization that owns several news stations throughout California, released the results of their latest poll testing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) prior to his facing an apparent recall election. The survey (3/12-14; 1,045 CA registered voters) finds that 38% of the respondents would vote to recall Gov. Newsom and 42% would not.
On the question of whether they felt Gov. Newsom should be re-elected or would they prefer someone new, the respondents overwhelmingly chose the new person option. A total of 42% said they would vote to re-elect Mr. Newsom, but a whopping 58% said they would support a different person.
Former US Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA), who served three terms in the House from 1999-2005 until abiding by a self-imposed three-term limit, says he will enter the statewide race should the recall petition against Gov. Newsom qualify. If the voters choose to recall the Governor, they will select a replacement in the same election. If Newsom is not recalled, the votes for all other candidates are nullified. The only time a California Governor was recalled occurred in 2003 when Gov. Gray Davis (D) was ousted, and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as his replacement
Massachusetts: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has been a political anomaly in that he runs strong as a Republican in the most Democratic of states. A new polling series from YouGov for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (3/5-9; 756 MA registered voters; live interview) found Gov. Baker leading all potential Democratic opponents but with significantly lower margins than in previous elections.
Opposite Attorney General Maura Healey, Gov. Baker leads only 31-28%. Against former US Representative and ex-US Senate candidate Joe Kennedy III, the Baker margin is 37-27%. Opposing university professor Danielle Allen, the spread grows to 31-14% and is 31-12% over former state Sen. Ben Downing. At this point, only the latter man, Mr. Downing, is a declared candidate. Neither Attorney General Healey nor ex-Rep. Kennedy are expected to run for Governor next year.
Minnesota: Mike Lindell, the founder and CEO of the MyPillow company and frequent advertiser on cable TV, has been politically outspoken in recent weeks. Originally, he claimed to be “90% sure” that he would enter the 2022 Governor’s race in an attempt to challenge incumbent Tim Walz (D). Mr. Lindell, now saying he is the victim of personal attacks, confirmed yesterday that he will not run. At this point, only former state Sen. Scott Jensen and Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy have declared their intention to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary.
New York: With what appears to be a majority of New York state legislators calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) authorizing the Assembly Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment probe over the sexual harassment claims, the chances of seeing removal action moving forward is becoming a real possibility.
Should the committee find cause to move forward, the members would move an impeachment report to the Assembly floor. There, it would take a majority vote to impeach, leading to a trial in the state Senate with all seven justices from the New York Court of Appeals (the highest judicial panel in the state) presiding. The Senate would then remove from office on a 2/3 vote. Interestingly, the New York procedure would suspend Gov. Cuomo during the trial and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, a former Congresswoman, would become Acting Governor. She would also take over if the Senate votes to remove him from office.
Georgia: Rumors abound in eastern Georgia that US Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro/Athens) will imminently announce a Republican primary challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The Secretary became a point of controversy in the 2020 election as the voting fraud accusations rose to a fever pitch in the state. Since that time, it has been presumed the Secretary would draw significant GOP primary opposition should he choose to run for re-election in 2022.
Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who opposed Mr. Raffensperger in the 2018 Republican Secretary of State primary and forced him into a runoff (Raffensperger won the secondary election, 62-38%), also says he will run again in 2022.
Virginia: In Virginia’s unique political system where the political parties can decide how to nominate their candidates in each election year, the Old Dominion’s GOP has had a difficult time. Not wanting a statewide primary, the party leaders’ first consensus decision was to have a “drive thru convention” at Liberty University. The school, however, rejected hosting the event. Now, it appears they will hold a convention of sort on May 8th with 37 ballot drop sites around the state for delegates to deliver their votes.
The eventual nominee will begin the 2021 gubernatorial election as a clear underdog to the likely Democratic nominee, former Governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.