This week, House Committees will markup their portions of congressional Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which Members hope to pass by the end of September. Those Committees are: Agriculture, Energy & Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security, Transportation & Infrastructure, and Ways & Means.
Because Democrats can only afford to lose three votes in the House and none in the Senate, the House Ways & Means Committee drafted a package of tax increases that would raise the corporate and capital gains rates below what President Biden is proposing. This proposal is estimated to raise over $2 trillion, which would pay for a substantial portion of the reconciliation package.
Additionally, the House Financial Services Committee will markup the Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021 (H.R. 5196). The measure would expedite applications for recoupment of unpaid rent for landlords while providing tenants’ access to financial assistance.
The Senate will consider the budget reconciliation package once the House passes it. However, the odds of the bill passing with its current topline spending level of $3.5 trillion were thrown into question when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) stated he would not support a reconciliation package at that level. Instead, Sen. Manchin proposed a $1.5 trillion top-line figure. His opposition could prove decisive, since the bill will not pass unless supported by all Democrats.
Senate committees will also convene for nominations and other hearings this week, including the Senate Judiciary Committee which will markup bills related to criminal justice and antitrust reform.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on a motion to advance the For the People Act of 2021 (S. 2093). It would overhaul federal voting laws and ethics and campaign finance rules, including establishing online and automatic voting registration, restoring felons’ voting rights, and requiring independent commissions, rather than State legislatures, to draw congressional districts.
This measure will likely fail under a Senate Republican filibuster, but Sen. Manchin has offered a slimmed down elections bill in its place. This may include a national requirement for voter identification, certain voting rights measures, checks on partisan gerrymandering, and required disclosures of “dark” campaign money.
Last week, the first international passenger flight carrying nearly 200 passengers left Kabul following the U.S. military withdrawal, sparking hope for successful negotiations with the now-ruling Taliban to evacuate remaining U.S. nationals.
Nevertheless, the fallout from the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan continues. This week, both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold hearings to examine all aspects of the withdrawal process.
At home, President Biden announced an expanded vaccine mandate that would cover an estimated 100 million Americans. It requires all employers with at least 100 employees to ensure their workforce either is fully vaccinated or tests negative for COVID on a weekly basis. Most large companies affected by the policy already have similar measures in place. The plan also mandates vaccinations – without a testing exception – for federal government employees and contractors, and workers of healthcare facilities receiving federal aid.
The move is a shift from President Biden’s previous position against wholesale mandates, but one that many experts believe is necessary to combat the new surge of the delta variant.
Finally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced late last week that it would sue the state of Texas over its new abortion ban, which went into effect after the Supreme Court refused to halt its progress. The DOJ claims that the law is unconstitutional and violates established Supreme Court precedent.
Becker’s Federal Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.