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Capitol to Capitol | Feb. 27, 2023

February 27, 2023

Congressional Updates

Congress Kicks Off Internet Privacy Activity at Hearing on Protecting Children Online

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from experts on policies and practices that are designed to protect children while using websites and social media. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the bipartisan Clean Slate for Kids Online Act, which would let individuals over the age of 13 request the deletion of online information collected while they were under 13. This bill marks the first privacy bill introduced in Congress in what is expected to be a major issue of focus for lawmakers.

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Administration Updates

Interior Announces Webinar on Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Program; Extends Comment Period

The Department of the Interior will host a webinar March 2 at 1 p.m. ET on the guidance released last month outlying how states can apply for and use the $2 billion in formula grants in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law to address orphaned oil and gas wells. Permissible uses of the funds include measuring and tracking methane emissions; plugging, remediating and reclaiming orphaned oil and gas wells; and remediating water and soil. Interior has also extended the comment period on the draft guidance to March 24.

To register for the webinar, click here

New USDA Waivers Give States WIC Flexibility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service announced new flexibilities letting states establish or enhance remote services to Women, Infants and Children beneficiaries. States may now waive two current requirements: that WIC beneficiaries be physically present to determine or recertify program eligibility and that people pick up of benefit cards or vouchers in person; instead, states may use alternative delivery means, including electronic transfer and mail. States using the new waivers—“Physical Presence” and “Remote Benefit Issuance,” respectively—must continue to offer in-person options and meet all other federal WIC requirements. States need to contact their regional office to express interest in the waiver options. Waivers will remain in effect until at least Sept. 30, 2026, as determined by the Food and Nutrition Service. Additionally, states may apply for WIC modernization and innovation grants to expand outreach and improve service delivery, including through the expanded use of technology.

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DHS and DOJ Issue Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Border Enforcement

On Feb. 23, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice announced a new proposed rule in anticipation of a migrant surge at the southwest border following the termination of the COVID-19 national emergency declaration in May. Once the emergency declaration ends, the administration cannot use Title 42 to expel migrants seeking to cross into the U.S. without authorization. The proposed rule would create a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility for migrants who do not use the established lawful pathways to the U.S. and do not seek asylum in other countries they’ve traveled through. If a migrant violates the rule, the government would assume the individual is ineligible for asylee status in the country and would likely be removed unless the individual could prove at the time of entry that illness, threat of violence or human trafficking kept them from using the proper channels to seek asylum. The rule would not apply to unaccompanied minors. The goals of the action are to reduce the number of migrants seeking to cross the southwest border, decrease migrant reliance on human smugglers, and reduce overcrowding in border facilities and towns. The proposed rule has a 30-day comment period that will end on March 27.

For more information, read the DHS fact sheet

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