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Federal Legislative Update - Week of August 1, 2022

Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week, while the House is in recess through September 12. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) noted that Members should prepare for a potential return to Washington in August if the Senate clears a reconciliation package.

Last week, Congress passed the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (H.R. 4346), sending the legislation to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature. Shortly after the upper chamber passed the legislation by a bipartisan vote of 64-33, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) revealed that he and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) had reached an agreement on a FY2022 budget reconciliation bill. The decision to pursue a reconciliation package came after Senate Republicans only agreed to support the China competitiveness bill if Democrats ended plans to pass a reconciliation bill. The deal invests $433 billion over 10 years with climate change and healthcare provisions, fully paid for by increased taxes to the wealthiest Americans and the imposition of a 15% corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT). Specifically, the slimmed-down bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H. R. 5376), would provide $369 billion for energy security and climate change-related programs and $64 billion to extend an Affordable Care Act program through 2025. The measure is currently undergoing a “Byrd-bath” by the Senate Parliamentarian to ensure that all measures abide by the Byrd rules of the chamber. Following this technical review, the bill could come to the floor for a vote by the end of this week for the lengthy voting process, commonly known as “vote-a-rama,” that could last into the weekend. In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats would need all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to vote for the bill. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has not yet revealed her position—she has stated previous opposition to specific taxation measures which are included in the updated text of the legislation. If the Senate passes the legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has agreed to pass the legislation in the House later this month.

The Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 (S. 3373), which would help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during military service, failed to advance for a final vote in the Senate last week, by a vote of 55-42—60 votes were needed to avoid a filibuster. The bill was poised for passage until 25 Senate Republicans switched their vote over a discrepancy on discretionary versus mandatory spending issues in the legislation. Several Senate Republicans are requesting a vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to make future funding discretionary instead of mandatory. Majority Leader Schumer agreed and said during a press conference on Sunday, “I will hold a new vote this week, and I am urging everyone to vote ‘yes.’ The legislation will pass and head to the White House to become law.”

The House passed the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118) on Friday by a vote of 218-199. The 49-bill package invests in federal wildfire response and mitigation efforts and drought relief measures. Lead sponsor Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) said the bill provides an opportunity “to set the marker down about what wildfire response and drought resiliency effort could look like.” Many have begun to speculate on the bill’s Senate prospects as Republicans have opposed the measure as it would create programs and authorizations without fully funding the agencies to carry them out, including a $20/hour minimum pay for federal firefighters. Chief among the challenges for passage in the Senate is a busy legislative calendar ahead of the November midterm elections.

For the remainder of the week, several Senate committees will hold hearings, including a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Spectrum” and a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on “How Renters and Communities are Impacted by Today’s Housing Market.” The Senate will also vote on Elizabeth Hanes’ nomination as U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. Six states will hold their primary elections on Tuesday, including Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington.

Last Week:

  • Chairman Leahy Releases Fiscal Year 2023 Senate Appropriations Bills READ MORE
  • House passes bill to boost U.S. chip production and China competition, sending it to Biden READ MORE
  • Schumer, Manchin announce deal on reconciliation bill with tax, climate, energy provisions READ MORE
  • Senate Passes the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 READ MORE
  • Bill aiding veterans impacted by burn pits, other toxic chemicals stopped by GOP READ MORE
  • House approves bill to help West fight wildfires, drought READ MORE
  • President Biden tests positive for COVID in rebound case, returns to isolation READ MORE
  • House passes assault weapons ban that’s doomed in the Senate READ MORE
  • Senate passes bills for recycling data collection, rural infrastructure grants READ MORE
  • Treasury Releases Updated ARPA Recovery Fund Guidance Providing Additional Flexibility to Use Funds for Affordable Housing READ MORE
  • DOT Announces $7.3 Billion PROTECT Formula Program for Resilient Transportation Infrastructure READ MORE