Last week’s news that inflation rose 9.1 percent in June as compared to last year is reinforcing the nervous mood in Washington, where policymakers struggle to find ways to bring relief to American consumers – and Democrats fret they will pay a price at the polls in November.

Democrats got another jolt of bad news late last week when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reportedly told Democratic leaders that he will not support legislation that includes new spending for climate change provisions or tax hikes on wealthy individuals or corporations. Democrats had been hoping to get Manchin’s support for a slimmed-down Build Back Better plan after he and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said last fall they could not support President Biden’s larger climate and safety net plan.

Now, it looks like even the pared-down climate bill Democrats had been counting on to show progress to the voters will contain little more than a provision to lower prescription costs. It also means that Congress is unlikely to advance any significant legislation, beyond must-pass funding bills, before the election.

With Congress gridlocked up, more attention turns to the Executive Branch, where the administration is dealing with a host of issues that could impact CRM:

Biden Releases Offshore Drilling Plan: On July 2, the Biden administration proposed up to 10 oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Alaska coast over the next five years, while blocking new drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific, as had been proposed by the Trump administration. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland pointed out that fewer than 11 lease sales could actually occur, with a final decision not due for months.

The long-awaited plan, spurred by a court order from a U.S. district judge in Louisiana forcing the administration to resume lease sales, appeared to disappoint both sides in the debate over drilling, with the oil and gas sector maintaining that it did not go far enough in increasing domestic energy production, and environmental groups saying that it went against the President’s campaign promises on climate. What all sides agree upon is that the plan will do little to lower gas prices in the short term, as it would take years for the leases to lead to actual drilling.

Army Corps Receives Input on Appendix C: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a special listening session for ACRA members last week to get feedback on its use of Appendix C.

In early June, the Corps announced a new effort to modernize its Civil Works program, including the possibility of rulemaking over its use of Appendix C. The Corps has asked Section 106 stakeholders to share their experiences with Appendix C and the challenges they encounter in protecting historic properties when using it by the end of July.

Any changes to how the Corps meets its obligations under Section 106 will have profound impacts on CRM firms across the country. ACRA plans to submit comments to the Corps that reflect the views of ACRA member firms. In order to give firms the opportunity to have a voice in the discussion, ACRA asked the Corps for last week’s listening session.

If you missed the session, you can still weigh in on ACRA’s comments to the Corps. ACRA has launched an online survey to provide ACRA member firms to offer their thoughts on any potential changes to Appendix C. Please take the survey, which will help the ACRA Government Relations Committee formulate ACRA’s comments, by July 22.

White House Convenes Tribal Leaders: The White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) convened an engagement session with Tribal leaders June 30 focused on Native Language initiatives. Much of the discussion was centered on the implementation of the Native Languages Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) announced at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, which committed the Departments of the Interior, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and seven other signatory agencies to address barriers to Native language revitalization, supporting integration of Native language instruction and language into educational settings, and strengthening Tribal consultation around Native languages.