The Golden Apple – December 3, 2021

It’s not blowing your own horn if someone else does it
We’re just mentioning that The Hill newspaper published its list of Top Lobbyists of 2021, and we were delighted to see GrayRobinson’s federal team of Doyle Bartlett, Chris McCannell, and Blair Hancock on the list of top “hired guns.” Congratulations, too, to our friend and client Tim Daly of Western Union, who made the list of top corporate lobbyists. 
The CR is only half the battle
The House and Senate agreed yesterday to a continuing resolution that should keep the government running until February 18, but the government may default on its obligations sometime before the year end anyway, unless Congress raises the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee at hearings earlier this week: “It is imperative that Congress address the debt limit,” she said. Failure to do so would “eviscerate our current economy.” The Treasury must make a $118 billion payment to the Highway Trust Fund on December 15. It has the funds to do that, but could face a cash crunch soon afterward. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, said at Tuesday’s hearing that Congressional Democrats had the power to raise the ceiling without Republican votes.  
FOMC will discuss speed of tapering, Powell said
CARES Act oversight was the official topic of the hearings before the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee this week, but members grilled Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell on how the Fed plans to address inflation. Powell said the Federal Open Market Committee had already recognized that inflation is exceeding the Fed’s target of 2%, and agreed to reduce its purchases of securities. The FOMC will meet December 14 and 15 to discuss whether to accelerate this tapering; both Democrat and Republican Senators urged Powell to speed it up. Powell said the decision would depend on several factors, including the latest jobs and inflation numbers, and additional information about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Ways and Means panel commits to bipartisan approach to China trade policy
Democrat and Republican members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade agreed this week on the need to take stronger actions against abusive Chinese trade practices, including its use of third-party countries to evade sanctions. At a hearing yesterday, the panel discussed the need to review and revise Section 301 tariffs and to evaluate the effectiveness of Phase One of the US-China trade deal. Members on both sides of the aisle called for greater engagement with the member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
SEC finalizes changes to foreign company reporting rules 
This week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved changes to rules implementing the submission and disclosure requirements of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA). These changes are aimed primarily at Chinese companies with opaque ownership structures; the amendments require certain issuers identified by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to submit documentation to the SEC establishing it is not owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
CFPB says banks are “hooked on overdraft fees”
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra said the agency would be ramping up supervision and enforcement scrutiny of banks that rely too heavily on overdraft fees after the release of new research this week. The Bureau reported that aggregate market revenue from overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees made up close to two-thirds of reported fee revenues in 2019. These revenues declined in 2020, which the Bureau attributed to stimulus payments that increased checking account balances. 

OCC calls for research on climate risk in banking and finance
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will hold a symposium on economic climate risk in June 2022, and is asking for academic and policy-focused research on the topic. The OCC wants six to 10 papers for presentation and discussion on areas of interest such as climate-related physical risks, climate-related transition risks, disparate community impact, climate risk modeling and stress testing, and environmental, social, and corporate governance ratings. Submissions are due by March 11, 2022.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, is retiring after 36 years in Congress.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) will run for the Texas Attorney General seat instead of pursuing a ninth term in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) confirmed her previously announced decision to make this 15th term in Congress her last.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), first elected in 2016, will be a candidate in the New York Governor’s race.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), who succeeded Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2007 after Sanders was elected to the Senate, will leave that seat to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

President Biden nominated Shalanda Young, currently the acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to be Director, and Nani Coloretti as Deputy Director.
The Week Ahead
Congress is scheduled to conclude its work for 2021 on Friday, December 10. We’ll see.

December 7 at 9:30 a.m. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth holds a hearing on “Promoting Competition, Growth, and Privacy Protection in the Technology Sector.”

December 7 at 10 a.m. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on the nominations of Parisa Salehi to be Inspector General of the Export-Import Bank and Brian Michael Tomney to be Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

December 7 at 10 a.m. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations holds a hearing on “Ensuring Equitable Delivery of Disaster Benefits to Vulnerable Communities and Peoples: An Examination of GAO’s Findings of the CDBG Program.”

December 8 at 10 a.m. House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States.”

December 8 at 10 a.m. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties holds a hearing on “Forfeiting our Rights: The Urgent Need for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform.”

December 8 at 10 a.m. House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on “Promoting Economic and Community Redevelopment and Environmental Justice in the Revitalization and Reuse of Contaminated Properties.”

December 8 at 10 a.m. House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight holds a hearing on “The Pandora Papers and Hidden Wealth.”

December 9 at 9:30 a.m. Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing on “Financial Literacy: Addressing the Unique Just-in-Time Decisions Older Americans and People with Disabilities Face.”

December 9 at 10 a.m. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on “Disaster Recovery Assistance — Authorization of the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program.”

December 9 at 10:30 a.m. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection holds a hearing on “Holding Big Tech Accountable: Legislation to Build a Safer Internet.”

December 9 at 11 a.m. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion holds a hearing on “A Review of Diversity and Inclusion Performance at America’s Large Investment Firms.”
The Ellis Insight – Jim Ellis on political news
New Hampshire: A new Tarrance Group poll for potential US Senate candidate Corky Messner, the 2020 Republican Senate nominee, finds that the GOP continues to be competitive against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) even without Gov. Chris Sununu (R) as the party’s nominee. According to the poll (11/14-17; 500 NH likely 2022 general election voters; live interview), Sen. Hassan would lead Mr. Messner by only a 47-45% margin, only slightly worse than when Gov. Sununu was paired with the incumbent.
Pennsylvania: As expected, television personality and physician Mehmet Oz joined the open Republican primary hoping to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Dr. Oz only recently moved to the Philadelphia area after residing in New Jersey for approximately 20 years. Dr. Oz says he will partially self-fund his campaign. In the GOP contender fold are ex-US Ambassador Carla Sands, former Lt. Governor nominee Jeff Bartos, and 2020 congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, among others. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) are the leading Democratic candidates.

CA-34: Movie executive David Kim, who held California Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) to a 53-47% re-election victory in the 2020 double-Democratic general election, announced that he will return for a re-match next year. Mr. Kim spent only $84,000 in his 2020 campaign, so we can count on seeing a more robust effort in the current cycle compared to his previous performance. The 34th District will substantially change as the seat must add 56,933 people just to meet the state’s new population quota.
FL-20:  It appears that the South Florida special Democratic primary, which ultimately ended in a five-vote victory for businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, isn’t yet over. The losing candidate, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, has filed a lawsuit against Ms. Cherfilus-McCormick. He claims her support of the Universal Basic Income proposal that would provide $1,000 per month to the general public constitutes an illegal bribe. Therefore, Mr. Holness is asking the court to retroactively disqualify Ms. Cherfilus-McCormick from the ballot.
While this approach is unlikely to deny Cherfilus-McCormick a ballot slot for the January 11th special general election to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D), it does signal that Mr. Holness will be back in the regular 2022 August primary. This means the pair’s lengthy South Florida political fight will continue at least through next summer.
GA-7: The Georgia redistricting surprise was US Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) leaving her 6th District constituency that the new map made more strongly Republican to instead challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the new 7th CD. Now, we see another unexpected development. 

Explaining that neither US House member actually lives within the confines of the 7th District as newly drawn, state Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville), who does represent the 7th’s anchor population region, this week entered the congressional primary. The election is scheduled for May 24th.
Illinois:  Now that the Illinois congressional map has become official, incumbents and candidates are making their political moves. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), despite representing only about a quarter of the new 15th District’s constituency, announced that he will not enter the Governor’s race, but intends to seek re-election to the House from this newly configured district.
In Mr. Davis’ former 13th District, drawn as a new open Democratic seat that stretches from Champaign to the St. Louis suburbs through Decatur and Springfield, former Obama Administration official Nikki Budzinski (D), who had originally declared against Rep. Davis, announced that she will run in the new 13th and immediately becomes the favorite to capture the seat.
NY-3:  Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has turned down NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ (D) offer to become one of the city’s Deputy Mayors and instead will run for Governor. This will be the second gubernatorial campaign for Mr. Suozzi. He lost the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary in a crushing 82-18% landslide defeat to then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
At this point, Rep. Suozzi opposes new Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in a growing semi-open Democratic intra-party election battle. Gov. Hochul assumed the state’s top office when Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was forced to resign. She had been his running mate for Lt. Governor. 
NC-2:  Saying, “I’m not a far-left liberal Dem, and this is not a far-left, liberal-drawn district,” state Rep. James Gailliard (D-Rocky Mount) declared his congressional candidacy for the state’s new open 2nd District that sits in the northeastern part of the Tar Heel State. Veteran Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) has announced he is not seeking re-election next year. Rep. Gailliard becomes the fifth Democrat to enter the race in what is now a competitive political domain.
NC-4: State Rep. Charles Graham (D-Lumberton), who had  originally announced his congressional candidacy against two-term Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) earlier in the year, has switched districts. As a result of the new North Carolina congressional map creating a competitive open seat anchored in Fayetteville, Mr. Gray announced yesterday that he will instead compete in the new 4th District. 

Already in the open Democratic primary is state Sen. Ben Clark (D-Cumberland County). Six Republicans have announced, including a state Representative and a former Fayetteville Mayor. The seat leans Republican.
OH-9:  Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), who ranks fifth in current House seniority in serving her 24th term, has drawn two significant GOP challengers in her 9th District. The new version of the northwest Ohio CD is much more Republican than any the Congresswoman has previously represented. 

Former Miss Ohio Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R), an attorney and political commentator, announced her candidacy during the Thanksgiving holiday break. The race is expected to draw additional candidates. State Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) soon followed suit. The Ohio candidate filing deadline is February 2nd for the May 3rd partisan primary.
OR-4: Veteran Oregon US Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, late this week announced that he will retire after completing his 18th term next year. He ranks sixth in House seniority. Mr. DeFazio becomes the 19th Democrat not to seek re-election to the House, and the third full committee chair to retire.
The new 4th District was made stronger for Rep. DeFazio, thus allowing two other districts, including the state’s new 6th CD, to become more competitive. Republican Alex Skarlatos, who held Mr. DeFazio to the closest re-election outcome of his long career, 51-46%, had announced a re-match effort months ago. He will likely continue to be a consensus Republican candidate.
State Labor and Industries Commissioner Val Doyle (D) immediately declared her congressional candidacy upon Mr. DeFazio announcing his retirement. The 4th District race will be viewed as competitive, with the eventual Democratic nominee being cast as the favorite.
TX-1: Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran (R) announced his congressional candidacy this week. He is a major contender vying to succeed Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), who is leaving the House to run for state Attorney General. A Texas county judge is equivalent to a county executive in most places. Smith County is the population anchor of the east Texas’ 1st Congressional District. The candidate filing deadline is December 13th for the March 1st primary. The 1st CD is safely Republican, so the GOP primary will almost assuredly determine the region’s next House member.
TX-30:  Now that 15-term Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) has officially announced her retirement, we can expect to see several sitting state legislators come forward to declare candidacies in a growing field that already features eight contenders. The newest entry is state Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas), who announced her candidacy during the Thanksgiving holiday break. This race will be decided in the Democratic primary and runoff, which are scheduled for March 1st and May 24th, respectively. Rep. Johnson immediately endorsed Ms. Crockett.
WA-8: King County Councilman Reagan Dunn (R), son of the late Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (R) who represented the 8th District for six terms after serving eleven years as chair of the Washington Republican Party, announced his own congressional candidacy yesterday. Mr. Dunn will join the jungle primary to oppose second term Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish). Already in the primary is the 2020 Republican Attorney General finalist, Matt Larkin. Mr. Dunn, himself, was an Attorney General nominee in the 2012 election. The Washington qualifying election is August 2nd.

Alaska: Freshman state Rep. Christopher Kurka (R-Wasilla) announced his challenge to Gov. Mike Dunleavy during the week. Mr. Kurka, a former director of the Alaska for Right to Life organization, is attacking Gov. Dunleavy from the ideological right. Previously, an organized recall group was opposing the Governor over his budgetary spending cuts.
Georgia: 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, the former state House Minority Leader, this week announced that she will run for Governor next year. In the previous election, she lost to now-incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R) by less than one percentage point. There was some recent speculation brewing that Ms. Abrams, who bypassed the 2020 US Senate cycle to concentrate on a gubernatorial re-match, would also sit the 2022 cycle out in order to prepare for a presidential run.
Now, all eyes will turn to former US Sen. David Perdue (R). He admits to be considering a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Kemp, whose numbers are lagging among the party faithful largely due to the post-election voter fraud controversy.
Massachusetts:  Saying he doesn’t want to go through an ideologically based Republican primary campaign, Bay State Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that he will not run for a third term next year. Immediately, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) made public her plans also to retire from politics, saying she will not run for Governor.
The Daily Kos Elections site is reporting that while a number of new potential candidates are reported to be considering the race, four prominent individuals are ruling out launching gubernatorial candidacies. Former US Sen. Scott Brown (R), ex-Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D), Jonathan Kraft, son of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (D) all say they will not enter the open gubernatorial contest.
Texas: Actor and Austin resident Matthew McConaughey, who was considering running for Governor of Texas as an Independent, has rather unsurprisingly decided not to enter the race.

Atlanta:  Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) defied the latest polling that gave City Council President Felicia Moore (D) a small lead in the Atlanta Mayor’s contest. On Tuesday night, Mr. Dickens scored a crushing 64-36% victory over Ms. Moore. Mayor-Elect Dickens will replace current incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), who chose not to seek a second term.