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Since the Democrats reclaimed control of the House of Representatives in 2018, barrels of ink have been spilled on the topic of “congressionally-directed spending”. Better known as earmarks, this funding mechanism allows Members of Congress to send money directly to projects identified in their districts, largely bypassing the federal bureaucracy and its protracted grant application process. For more than a decade, the Congress has banned the practice of including congressionally-directed funding in spending bills. Now, Democrats in control of both chambers and the White House are poised to bring earmarks back. On March 17th, House Republicans voted to reverse the GOP Conference’s ten year-old ban on congressionally directed spending, paving the way for Members from both parties to make requests in upcoming spending and infrastructure bills.
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The 117th Congress kicked off its First Session with, among other initiatives, oversight hearings on the SolarWinds cyber hack.  On February 23, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on the high profile, far-reaching breach; followed by a joint hearing on February 26 in the House of Representatives held by the Oversight and Reform and Homeland Security Committees.  At both hearings, Sudhakar Ramakrishna, President and CEO of SolarWinds, Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye, and Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, testified.  In addition, George Kurtz, the President and CEO of Crowdstrike, testified at the Senate Intelligence hearing, while Kevin Thompson, the former CEO of SolarWinds, testified in front of the joint House hearing.  Together, the hearings represent what will likely be the first of several congressional forays into the SolarWinds hack, including possible legislative initiatives to address future possible incidents and supply chain security.
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Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions voted 18-4 to advance Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s nomination for labor secretary. The bipartisan approval signals a non-controversial confirmation vote of the full Senate. When that occurs, Secretary-designate Walsh will take over a department that is front and center in the nascent Biden administration. Executing White House priorities including the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, and reversing certain Trump era actions, will soon be Walsh’s responsibility. His experience in Massachusetts politics gives a sense of how Walsh will approach his new post.
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With Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Congress and President Biden’s new administration are working to quickly advance proposals to provide for economic relief as the nation continues to reel from the now nearly one-year pandemic. One area of emerging bipartisan focus is a long-sought measure to address the nation’s crumbling and outdated infrastructure, which could be paired with a required surface transportation reauthorization bill.
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After what felt like one of the longest election seasons in history, Washington is preparing to welcome the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. What does this all mean for energy and sustainability?
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With the Senate set to flip to Democratic control in the 117th Congress, albeit by a razor thin margin, the policy priorities for the upper chamber are likely to significantly change.  In so doing, the various Senate committees will have new chairs, and their agendas will likely vary at least in part on the partisan make-up of the committees.
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Read about the Massachusetts congressional delegation to the 117th Congress, their current and potential committee assignments, and possible policy implications.
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MLS Election Update: Impact on Trade

November 10, 2020| Blog

Read about the post-election impact on international trade matters and the incoming administration's influence on the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. (CFIUS).
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COVID-19 Government Relations

May 27, 2020| Blog

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As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the nation, your team at ML Strategies continues to monitor legislative and regulatory updates at the federal and state level.  Each week, ML Strategies will provide weekly updates from Massachusetts and Washington, DC to keep you informed and aware of relief opportunities and guidance for your businesses and companies.
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Collaborative Communities

February 27, 2020| Video

Aaron Josephson explains why FDA is looking to Collaborative Communities to help solve challenges in 2020 and the potential benefit to companies who participate in the development of public policy.
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This week, Congress is working towards passage of a continuing resolution that would fund the government through the middle of November. This will give policymakers and appropriators enough time to hash out differences in funding priorities as well as work on policies addressing drug pricing, surprise billing, and funding for public health programs. The surprise billing issue is really heating up with outside stakeholder groups weighing in and Congress carefully considering its next steps
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Read about DHS’s Final EB-5 Regulations that will take effect on November 21, 2019, including a new standard minimum investment amount of $1.8 million.
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