Beltway Buzz - October 2020 #3

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Second Time’s a Charm? Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is promising a vote on a slimmed-down economic stimulus package during the week beginning October 19, 2020. We’ve seen this movie before. Republican senators tried to pass this legislation at the beginning of September, but were blocked by Senate Democrats in a nearly party-line vote. The same result is expected to follow next week. Thus, like the Democrats’ passage of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on October 1, 2020, next week’s vote will likely be little more than campaign fodder leading up to the election.

Barrett Confirmation Hearing. This week, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary wrapped up hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. While the hearings had some interesting moments, there were little fireworks, especially compared to the 2018 confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The Judiciary Committee will consider Judge Barrett’s nomination on October 22, 2020, which means that the committee will likely send the nomination to the floor of the Senate on October 23, 2020. Many expect that as a result of both arcane Senate parliamentary rules and political gamesmanship, Judge Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination will be confirmed on October 26, 2020.

State Department Addresses Visa Ban Fallout. On October 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued guidance on the implementation of the injunction issued in the legal challenge to the June 22, 2020, presidential proclamation suspending the entry of individuals to the United States on select nonimmigrant visas. Because the court limited the relief in the case to members of the plaintiffs’ associations, the State Department’s guidance states that H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 applicants “must be prepared to demonstrate that a U.S. employer/petitioner is a named plaintiff or member of any of the named plaintiff associations” by providing “to a consular officer a letter issued by one of the named plaintiffs to the applicant’s petitioner attesting that the petitioner is a member in good standing of one of the named plaintiff associations.”

EEOC Updates Litigation Procedures. On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finalized a regulation explicitly providing for the digital transmission of documents and the updating of no-cause determination procedures. Regarding the latter, the regulation adds language clearly noting that a dismissal of a charge includes notice of the charging party’s statutory right to file a lawsuit and that such a dismissal does not necessarily mean that the allegations were without merit. The rule, which was first proposed on February 22, 2019, does not make any changes to the charge-filing process and goes into effect on November 16, 2020.

Biometrics Comment Deadline. October 13, 2020, was the due date for the submission of comments in response to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ proposed biometric data collection rule.

Mr. Smith’s Anniversary. On October 17, 1939, 45 U.S. senators and 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives gathered in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., for the world premiere of Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. While most enjoyed the film, Senate majority leader and future vice president Alben W. Barkley (D-KY) called the movie “silly and stupid,” stating that it made the Senate look like “a bunch of crooks.” Known for its famous filibuster scene, the film and the anniversary of its debut are particularly timely given all the chatter about whether Democrats may jettison the filibuster if they take control of the Senate in 2021.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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