This week in Congress: Picking up the pieces after a Manchin tantrum, House staff get organized

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Last week, before Manchin stepped in, Republicans were still making noises about not allowing even that much to pass as long as Democrats were pursuing the larger reconciliation bill including climate change measures and tax reforms—the things Manchin had been saying he would support publicly and privately for months. They haven’t yet said where they’re at on the competitiveness bill after Manchin’s big gift to them. Chances are they’ll find a way to oppose it, too, because that’s who they are.

A bit of good news on the Senate side: Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) spokesperson says his “physical therapy continues to go well” after his hip repair surgery, and that he’ll be available to vote this week if necessary. Schumer and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) were both out last week with COVID, but they should be able to be available for votes this week.

The House will be taking up the first chunk of the 2023 fiscal year spending bills this week, with a goal of getting all 12 of them passed before August recess. It’s just the beginning of the spending process, because there hasn’t been a deal reached yet between Senate and House appropriators on spending levels. Chances are that Senate Republicans leaders aren’t going to agree to those levels before the midterm election in November since it’s possible they’ll regain a majority and will able to push their austerity goals on everything but the Pentagon.

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The House also might consider legislation to codify the right for Americans to access birth control as a federal law, following Justice Clarence Thomas’ targeting it in his concurrence on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision ending federal abortion rights protection. The House Judiciary Committee will have a hearing on Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-RI) assault weapons ban, and the House will likely vote on it this month. On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will grill the manufacturers of those assault weapons.

The CEOs of three major gun manufacturers—Marty Daniel, the CEO of Daniel Defense; Mark Smith, the president and CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands; and Christopher Killoy, the president and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Co.—will appear to discuss the companies’ profits from weapons based on AR-15 guns, annual spending on advertising and marketing of these rifles, and their annual spending on federal and state lobbying, as well as their funding of the National Rifle Association.

Here’s cause to celebrate in the House: Today is the first day House staff can begin organizing their offices in a union to gain workplace protections. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to, I wouldn’t say complete the process, but move to the next step,” one of the organizers told Roll Call, speaking anonymously so they could talk candidly about the new rules. “[This] is really going to be a test of whether our bosses are willing to walk the walk when it comes to workers’ rights.”

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