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This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington

It has been a busy week as legislators make the most of this year’s extra day. Surprise announcements, important roundtable discussions, funding deals, and legislative markups have ensured that Leap Week 2024 has not been boring.

The End of an Era: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the longest-serving Senate leader in history, announced yesterday that he would be stepping down from that position in November.

Leader McConnell, who came to the Senate in 1985, has served as the Leader of the Senate Republican Conference since 2007. Yesterday, in his surprise announcement on the floor, he said that “One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter, so I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.” Leader McConnell has been a strong supporter of AFSA issues, most recently attempting to rein in the CFPB as a part of the “runaway regulatory state” last fall. After November Leader McConnell will continue to serve in the Senate as the senior Senator from Kentucky.

This announcement begins an eight-month leadership race within the Republican Conference. Although no senator has officially announced a run for leader, a handful have been widely discussed as likely successors. Sens. John Thune (R-SD), John Cornyn (R-TX), and John Barrasso (R-WY) have all served or are serving in leadership positions and have previously indicated their willingness to run.

Financial Inclusion Roundtable: Yesterday, as a part of his efforts to bring awareness to Capitol Hill during Black History Month, Ranking Member Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) hosted a roundtable with Black investors and business founders to discuss ways to improve minority communities’ access to capital and the ability to build wealth.

AFSA attended the roundtable to learn more about the financial inclusion and financial literacy initiatives Ranking Member Scott and the roundtable participants were advocating. As AFSA has continued to be involved with the Department of Treasury’s financial inclusion efforts, providing all Americans with the tools they need to achieve financial security is a goal that AFSA and its members have long shared with Ranking Member Scott.

New Funding Deal: Congressional leaders have announced yet another short-term funding deal, making it feel more like Groundhog Day than Leap Day. To head off a partial government shut down on Saturday, the deal extends funding for some government agencies until March 8 and the rest until March 22.

This sets up a potential vote next week for six of the twelve appropriations bills that fund the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Interior, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. Lawmakers would then have two more weeks to pass the remaining six spending bills that include funding for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Health and Human Services, and Labor.

House Financial Services Markup: Today, AFSA will be watching the House Financial Services Committee markup.

The markup will be on twelve bills, including Chairman Patrick McHenry’s “Financial Services Innovation Act,” which would require federal regulators to create Financial Services Innovation Offices (FSIOs) within their agencies to foster innovation. Once established, companies may apply for an “enforceable compliance agreement” with the respective FSIOs that, if accepted, will allow them to provide an innovative product or service under an alternative compliance plan. This would apply to the CFPB. Chairman McHenry has introduced this legislation before, but it did not have enough support to make it to the House floor.

Have any questions about how Washington works or want a specific federal government affairs topic covered? Please reach out to Brigid Ueland with any questions or ideas!

February 29th, 2024 by

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