Senate. The Senate will begin the week by considering additional nominations, an ongoing process some have dubbed the nom-a-rama, and then is expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also eyeing the NDAA as a vehicle to carry the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a wide-ranging proposal designed to bolster competitiveness with China. Among other things, USICA would increase research and development in emerging technologies and strengthen the U.S supply chain.
USICA was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in June, 68-32, but the House has taken a different approach. Because the NDAA is viewed as legislation that must be enacted this year, adding USICA to the NDAA bill will force the House to find common ground with the Senate as part of the conference committee negotiations that will take place once the Senate passes the NDAA. The House passed its version of NDAA in September.
House. The House will vote on a number of non-controversial bills under suspension of the rules as Members await a vote at the end of the week on the Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation bill.
Reconciliation. The Congressional Budget Office said this afternoon that it plans to release a complete cost estimate of the BBB by the end of the day on Friday, Nov. 19. CBO has already provided estimates for a number of the individual titles of the bill, but it won’t be until Friday that the estimates for one of the more controversial sections of the bill, the drug pricing provisions, will be released. House leadership has not yet announced when the House will vote on the bill.
Assuming the reconciliation measure does pass the House, it’s also unclear when the Senate will take up the bill. In a letter to his colleagues on Sunday, Majority Leader Schumer said his office is working with the Senate parliamentarian and House and Senate committees on the so-called “privilege scrub,” a process that is necessary to ensure that the House bill meets all the requirements to be a reconciliation bill and maintain its status as “privileged” legislation in the Senate. Schumer hopes the scrubbing can be finished this week and that a separate process will begin this week to ensure that provisions comport with the Byrd rule.
One provision that will no doubt be debated during Byrd Bath discussions with the parliamentarian is the House’s drug pricing proposal, in particular the language that would set inflation caps on prescription drug prices for both Medicare and private insurance plans. If the cost of a drug rises faster than inflation, the House bill provides that the manufacturer would have to pay a rebate to the government or face a penalty. In addition to the privilege scrub and the Byrd Bath, Schumer will also be negotiating with individual Senators to see what changes will be needed to the House bill to win their support.
Committee Action of Note:
Senate Races. With his announcement today that he will not seek re-election in 2022, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joins five others who plan to retire from the upper body. The five, all Republicans, are Senators Richard Burr (N.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and Roy Blunt (Mo.). The only two Senators who have not announced their re-election plans are Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). In other election news, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced Nov. 9 that he would seek a fourth term as governor and not challenge Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan next year.
Florida House Race. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a healthcare executive, is likely to take a seat in Congress next year as the Representative from Florida’s 20th Congressional District. In the Democratic primary for the seat held by the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D), Cherfilus-McCormick came out five votes ahead of Dale Holness in a field of 11 candidates. The general election will be Jan. 11.
The House is waiting for CBO to finish its cost estimates for the Build Back Better Act, with a floor vote planned before Members leave for the Thanksgiving recess. The Senate, meanwhile, will begin consideration this week of legislation to reauthorize defense programs.Read More