capitol building

This Week:

The Senate approved various Biden administration nominees. The House passed one (Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs) of the 12 bills required to fund the government in fiscal year 2025 (see below) and a bill to impose sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials (see below).

Next Week:

The Senate plans to vote on a package aimed at protecting and expanding access to in vitro fertilization (IVF). The House plans to consider the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill and will continue to work on the remaining 11 government spending bills.

The Lead

Short Week.

Congress this week had a short week with many lawmakers traveling to Normandy (France) for the 80th Anniversary of the Allied invasion. If lawmakers and the President are going to leave Washington and sideline votes on pending bills, Normandy is a good reason for that. A bipartisan group of lawmakers parachuted out of a WWII-era plane over Normandy just as Allied troops did 80 years ago (without the incoming fire, of course). All ten lawmakers are veterans and donned WWII-era uniforms. Our hats are off to all of those participating in this week’s ceremonies, especially the dwindling number of veterans of the Normandy invasion who are there to mark the occasion.

Other Issues in Play

Biden Immigration Policy Change.

President Biden signed an executive order this week designed to limit the number of migrants gaining entry into the US through the asylum process. The order allows the President to stop the flow of migrants seeking asylum if asylum applications exceeds 2,500 per day over the course of a seven-day period. The current seven-day average exceeds that level, so it is possible the order could take effect immediately or very soon. Not surprisingly, reaction in Washington fell along partisan lines. Republican lawmakers dismissed it as too little and too late and as still too generous to those seeking asylum. Democratic lawmakers, on the other hand, welcomed the order. Time will tell whether the order is successful or not, but we don’t believe the order will have a material impact on voters’ perception of the immigration problem in the short term. The issue continues to be a political liability for Biden until the situation at the border markedly improves.

International Court Sanctioned.

The House voted this week to impose sanctions against ICC officials who investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute US persons and US allies, including Israel. The House was responding to the ICC’s action last month to seek arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes in the war in Gaza. The bill is basically a reprimand of the international war crimes court and its decision to target the Israeli officials. Most lawmakers and the Biden administration have condemned the ICC’s position, but the administration opposes the House bill voted on this week. The administration’s opposition frustrated Prime Minister Netanyahu and adds more tension to the US-Israel partnership in prosecuting the war. It also comes at a time when congressional leaders (rather than the President) have invited Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress in a speech in July. This visit, if it materializes, will be boycotted by some Democratic lawmakers and will lead to a further strain among party leaders about how to respond to Middle East developments.

2025 Spending Battle Begins.

The House began its process of debating and approving the 12 bills to provide funding for various government and operations in fiscal year 2025, which begins on October 1. Specifically, it passed the bill covering military construction projects, veterans programs and a handful of other smaller agencies. The bill passed on a mostly partisan basis with only four House Democrats joining all but two House Republicans in supporting the measure. Disputes arose over the bill’s spending level, provisions restricting abortion services at VA facilities and a few other social policy measures. The social policy measures will be eliminated when the Senate considers the bill. This bill is significant because it kicks off the process of government spending for 2025. As in past years, this process will be subject to delays and threats of a government shutdown later in the year.

Farm Bill.

With no immediate deadlines on the horizon, many lawmakers have turned their attention to the reauthorization of the farm bill, an estimated $1.5 trillion-dollar five-year authorization of agricultural, nutrition, conservation and forestry programs. Since the 1930s, Congress has renewed the farm bill 18 times, with the current farm bill expiring this September. Both the Senate and House released their draft proposals of the farm bill last month. However, there are significant differences between the bills. The House bill contains Republican priorities, including cuts to the SNAP food aid program (food stamps), reallocation of climate change funds and an increase in crop insurance premiums. House Democrats are opposed to the changes to the food and climate programs. The Senate bill does not cut food assistance or alter climate change funds and increases crop insurance premiums but at a lower amount. Lawmakers will work over the summer to try to find compromise between the two bills before September 30, when the bills’ programs expire. While the farm bill is not always a major news story, the bill is very important for many farmers and agricultural producers throughout the US who rely on government support for different commodities, regulations around their production and federal crop insurance. If Congress is unable to marry the two competing bills before the fall deadline, another extension to reauthorize the existing farm bill into next year will likely occur.


In the wake of COVID-19, telehealth has made major advances and increased usage. Lawmakers appreciate its utility in the medical field, especially as it helps cut down on patient wait times during many in-person visits. Lawmakers are pursuing a renewal of Medicare’s coverage of telehealth services and options for growth in usage. These efforts are bipartisan as lawmakers seek to ensure access to medical professionals as Americans grow more frustrated with the bureaucracy of seeking medical care, some of which does not necessitate an in-person appointment. A House committee advanced legislation recently that would extend several Covid-era Medicare telehealth policies that are expiring at the end of the year. These include the removal of geographic restrictions, expansion of provider services and allowance of audio-only telehealth care through 2026. There is also legislation in the Senate that would make these Medicare telehealth flexibilities permanent. The bottom line here is that telehealth is here to stay and its usage will increase, due in large part to strong lawmaker support to encourage its growth and evolution.

The Final Word

Incumbency Matters.

Earlier this week, Congressman Rob Menendez (D-NJ) (not to be confused with his father, Senator Bob Menendez) easily dispatched his primary challenger in what was anticipated to be a much closer contest. His victory meant that the streak of House incumbents from around the country in both parties winning their nominations has again been extended. While the advantages of incumbency have long been known, it is somewhat surprising to see that it still fares so well in a time of anti-establishment sentiment. Only 16% of Americans trust that the government will “do the right the right thing,” according to recent polling. Yet, if Congressmen Bob Good (R-VA) and Jamal Bowman (D-NY) survive their primaries later this month, there’s a very good chance that no incumbent Member of Congress will lose a primary election this cycle. Given that only about 50 of the 435 seats in the House are competitive in November, the primaries effectively determine who will win most general election races. Although a meager 17% of the public approves of Congress, that hasn’t stopped voters from re-electing their own Representatives back into office nearly every time.