House of Pain. This week, the Buzz was hoping to write about the election of a new Speaker of the House of Representatives. The House has gone seventeen days without a Speaker. Unfortunately, Republicans in the House remain in disarray and have let another important legislative week slip by without electing a new Speaker. The latest candidate, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) failed to get a majority of votes after three ballots, and was subsequently removed as the nominee. At this moment, it is hard to really know how this situation will end, and some legislators are even discussing granting the current interim Speaker, Patrick McHenry (R-NC), authority to manage the legislative process so the House can get back to work (though even that plan appears to be a long shot). If you are interested in the job, please let the Buzz know and we will pass along your résumé—remember, you don’t have to be a member of the U.S. Congress to be Speaker of the House. (New Speaker candidates must declare by Sunday, October 22, 2023.)
Senate Confirms EEOC GC. On October 17, 2023, the U.S. Senate confirmed Karla Gilbride as general counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by a vote of 50–46. Gilbride will be the Commission’s first Senate-confirmed general counsel since Sharon Fast Gustafson was dismissed in March 2021. Gilbride will obviously play a significant role in implementing the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, which was issued on September 21, 2023, as well as its recently proposed harassment guidance (when finalized). Gilbride, a plaintiffs’ attorney, will be the Commission’s first blind general counsel.
H-1B Changes Coming Soon. On October 13, 2023, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposal entitled “Modernizing H-1B Requirements and Oversight and Providing Flexibility in the F-1 Program.” This proposal has been on the regulatory agenda for multiple administrations, and this action means that it will finally issue at any moment (though a final regulation is still many months away). Nicole Fink and Philip K. Sholts have a breakdown of what this could mean for employers.
Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot? On October 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of State transmitted to OIRA a regulation entitled “Pilot Program to Resume Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens.” This proposal, which has been in the works since at least February of this year, would likely allow visa holders (presumably limited to H-1Bs) to renew their visas here in the United States, without having to travel abroad (which they have had to do since 2004). At this time, there is no word on when the rule might be made available for comment or when the program might launch.
Republicans: Su Succession Shouldn’t Stand. Republican senators continue to press the administration over what they view as an inappropriate circumvention of the Senate’s advice and consent power with regard to the appointment of Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. This week, thirty Republican senators sent President Biden a letter noting that Acting Secretary Su is listed as a cabinet member, “[i]n order of succession to the Presidency,” despite not having been confirmed by the Senate. According to the letter, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 only permits cabinet members to be in the presidential line of succession if they have been “appointed, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” The senators then stated that they “strongly urge the White House to clarify its position and views regarding Ms. Su’s eligibility for the presidential line of succession and, in the event it was to become necessary, to assume the presidency.” In closing, the senators asked President Biden “to withdraw Ms. Su’s nomination and put forward a nominee for Secretary of Labor who is capable of garnering sufficient support on a bipartisan basis to be confirmed.”
Paw-ranormal Activity. While the House of Representatives remains rudderless and stagnant, the U.S. Senate continues to work hard for the American people. Case in point: this week, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 409, announcing that there will be a “Bipawtisan Howl-o-ween Dog Pawrade” in the Senate’s Hart Office Building on Halloween. The resolution, submitted by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), reads as follows:
Whereas President Harry Truman stated, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”; Whereas over 65,000,000 households in the United States are enriched by having a dog in the home; Whereas over 1,700 dogs serve alongside our military service members; Whereas approximately 500,000 service dogs assist disabled people of the United States, including veterans; Whereas over 3,000 dogs protect and serve our Nation working with Federal law enforcement; Whereas dogs, especially in costumes, have a unique ability to bring people of the United States with different backgrounds and beliefs together; and Whereas the Senate welcomes canine companions on a regular, “bipawtisan” basis: Now, therefore, be it Resolved,
SECTION 1. USE OF THE ATRIUM IN THE HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING FOR A BIPAWTISAN HOWL-O-WEEN DOG PAWRADE.
The atrium in the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building is authorized to be used on October 31, 2023, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., for a Bipawtisan Howl-o-ween Dog Pawrade.
Sounds like the event will make a great photo op for the political pup-arazzi.