Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of January 17, 2022

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of January 17, 2022

The Senate

This week, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will begin debating voting rights legislation in the Senate as Democrats continue to push their legislative agenda. The chamber will begin with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act after they passed the House, though its prospects in the Senate are dim due to unanimous Republican opposition and hesitation among moderate Democrats to change filibuster rules to get around such opposition.

Leader Schumer is continuing his push to reform the filibuster to dilute its 60-vote threshold to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority vote, but both Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have recently opposed those efforts. They argue it would embolden a future Republican-controlled Senate to jam through their own legislation without bipartisan input. The procedural roadblock casts doubt on the immediate passage of voting rights legislation.

The House

The House has a light week and will host numerous hearings:

  • The House Small Business Committee will discuss the Power, Peril and Promise of the Creative Economy,
  • The House Agriculture Committee will review the state of the rural economy with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack,
  • The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness and Growth will discuss how improving economic opportunity benefits all, focusing on the intersection of race, ethnicity, and the economy,
  • The House Homeland Security Committee will discuss ways to protect against threats to election infrastructure and voter confidence,
  • The House Judiciary Committee will consider the First Step Act, the Pandemic, and compassionate release in reviewing next steps for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Administration

The Biden Administration has had a difficult start to the new year with rising COVID-19 cases, increased inflation, and a stalled domestic agenda.

Inflation rates rose nearly 7% increase over the past year, although the Administration continues to argue that it is transitory. Republicans instead lay the blame at last year’s pandemic relief spending, while economists also point to supply chain shortages and supply-demand inequities. The Administration is currently working with the Senate to confirm Jerome Powell for another term as Fed Chair to lower inflation.

Furthermore, the Administration is working with Russia through diplomatic channels to deescalate its border conflict with Ukraine. The Senate recently rejected a sanctions bill against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after the Administration lobbied against the legislation for fear that it would hinder negotiations.

Finally, although formal negotiations on the Build Back Better Act have stalled, reports indicate that a slimmed-down, $1 trillion version of the legislation will focus on climate provisions and will not include previous social spending programs to attract moderate votes.

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.