March 25, 2022

Thought of the Week:

Although policy and politics never seem to take a break in Washington—think the ongoing debate over additional Russia sanctions, the first Federal Reserve interest rate increase in three years, and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings to name just a few—the conclusions of the Democrat and Republican Congressional issues’ retreats and the upcoming release of the President’s budget offer something of a spring reset before Congress begins its sprint to the month-long August recess and mid-term election campaign. The reset is akin to the symbolism of rebirth associated with the cherry blossom, which reached peak bloom in Washington earlier this week. In fact, cherry blossoms, like those that ring the Tidal Basin in the nation’s capital, endure as an expression of life, death, and renewal. Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness, and living in the present, cherry blossoms provide a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season, powerful and splendid, but tragically short-lived, offers a visual reminder that human lives too are fleeting. They’re a reminder to marvel with joy and passion at our own passing of time on earth and to never neglect to revel in life when it can end at any moment. More than anything, though, cherry blossoms remind us to pay attention to all that’s important to you. This week, when you next catch glimpse of a blossom, don’t just admire its aesthetic beauty, but be reminded that the future is bursting with possibilities. Take its sight as a reminder to seize the day, to make good on your New Year’s Day resolutions, and reflect on just how precious life can be. If you can do all this, you’ll take one step closer to shedding the past and ushering in the promise of a bright, new year.

Thought Leadership—from our Associations, Think Tanks, and Consultants:

Republicans Continue to Hold Stable Political Advantage Amid Ukraine War, Says Eurasia Group. After three weeks, there has been virtually no change in President Biden’s political standing (net –11) as a result of the war in Ukraine, the strong sanctions he has supported, or the resulting gas price increases. This comes even as his policies toward the conflict remain broadly popular. The odds of House control flipping to the Republicans in the midterm elections remain very high (a 90% probability), but the Senate will be determined by nine races. The GOP needs to hold five competitive seats where they are favored and flip one of four toss-up seats to win a Senate majority, which remains likely (a 65% probability). As mentioned last week, former President Trump has a mixed endorsement record in the 2022 electoral cycle so far, with several wins and several high-profile losses. While he remains likely to announce a campaign and quickly become the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination early in 2023, several Republicans are exploring his weaknesses on crime, Covid-19, and his relationship with Russian President Putin. These intra-GOP dynamics will determine the political outlook for the party, but not their governing agenda, which remains focused on stopping progressive policies instead of enacting a conservative agenda.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): Biden Administration Tells U.S. Companies to Boost Cybersecurity. In an urgent warning, President Biden told American companies to strengthen their cybersecurity measures following intelligence reports that Russia is seeking retaliation for U.S. economic sanctions. “The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming,” warned Biden. Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology Neuberger said the Russian government was “eyeing U.S. critical infrastructure,” but she did not cite any specifics. In preparation, federal agencies gathered more than 100 U.S. companies to share information on the new intelligence, and the Department of Energy held a classified briefing with industry leaders who hold top-secret security clearances to discuss the Russian cyberattack threat. Given the efforts by Russian-linked cyber threat groups, cybersecurity strategists describe the situation as presenting a ‘clear and present danger’ to the U.S. The White House said that companies should expect that destructive cyberattacks are imminent, and the administration put out a fact sheet listing ways companies can protect themselves against cyberattacks. President Biden said the administration would “continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt, and if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.”

Eurasia Group, Global Business Alliance, NAM, and Others Report on Release of Draft SEC Climate Disclosure Rules. New proposals released from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulating climate-related disclosures will bring the U.S. into line with a number of peer nations already soliciting this information from major investors and companies. Although delayed far longer than progressives had hoped, the draft rules presented were negotiated with an eye toward developing proposals that would survive legal scrutiny but still have enough teeth to force meaningful disclosures, particularly for Scope 3 emissions (those indirect emissions from supply chains and products). On Scope 3 emissions, the SEC attempted to strike compromises with regulated entities in three areas of implementation: (1) only the largest firms would have to report; (2) delaying the implementation date for disclosures; and (3) creation of a so-called “safe harbor” for reporting that would protect filers from litigation based on longstanding issues with supply chain data. While likely to make it through the rule-making process to final publication this year, the rules are expected to come under harsh scrutiny from both industry and activist groups. Legal challenges to the final rules are probable and could push back their implementation (currently slated to take place from 2023 to 2025). A future Republican administration would be likely to reverse course on the rules to score political points, though once companies have spent the time, money, and effort to comply, the real-world impact of reversal would be limited.

In Other Words (Quote): 

“Cameras change human behavior. We should recognize the jack-assery we often see around here is people mugging for short-term camera opportunities.”

– Sen. Sasse (R-NE) cautioning against adding cameras to the Supreme Court during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing.

Did You Know:

Staff departures on Capitol Hill have hit a two-decade high. According to an analysis of staff turnover on Capitol Hill, the loss of top talent to lobbying shops on K Street is increasingly raising concerns for congressional leaders. House staffers left their jobs at the highest rate since 2001, jumping 55% compared with 2020.

Image of the Week:

Individual polls released over the past week show Democrats behind Republicans in voters’ perceptions of their ability to handle most major issues; exceptions being Covid, Education, and Health Care Costs.                                                     

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