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Legislative Update

Senate. Two major pieces of legislation are expected to clear the Senate this week – the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and a measure to increase the debt limit. The NDAA bill is a bipartisan compromise crafted last week by the leadership of the House and Senate defense committees and approved by the House on Dec. 7. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will try to bring the bill to a final vote without any changes so that it can then be sent to the President for his signature.

The debt limit increase will be in a joint resolution that the Senate will take up under a special, one-time only procedure approved last week by both chambers and signed into law on Dec. 10. Under the procedure, which was worked out in negotiations between Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, debate is limited to 10 hours and no amendments are allowed. Because the resolution can’t be filibustered, the Senate can clear it with a simple majority vote rather than the 60 needed to limit debate. The joint resolution will increase the current debt ceiling by a specific dollar amount, expected to be about $2 trillion in order to pay the government’s bills through the November 2022 mid-term elections.

House. The House could approve the debt limit measure on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the timing of Senate passage. On Tuesday, the House could pass a resolution to hold former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt for defying a subpoena to appear for a deposition before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The select committee voted tonight on the contempt resolution that will then be sent to the House floor. Also on the House schedule is legislation that would create a new State Department office to combat Islamophobia.

Build Back Better. The Senate parliamentarian is holding bipartisan meetings this week to hear from Democrats and Republicans about whether various provisions in the Build Back Better bill comply with Senate reconciliation rules. Big-ticket items on the agenda include provisions dealing with immigration and drug pricing as well as language providing an extra $4,500 in incentives for electric vehicles made in unionized factories. In preparation for these Byrd bath sessions, the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee this weekend released legislative text making various tweaks to the House-passed bill. The Finance Committee meetings with the parliamentarian could begin on Wednesday and run through Friday, with one day each allotted for tax, trade, and health care issues.

More changes will be made to the bill before there is a Senate vote, including yet-to-be-determined provisions addressing the limitation on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Leader Schumer continues to say that there will be a vote before Christmas, and a major determinant of whether that pledge can be met will be the outcome of today’s meeting between President Biden and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Also factoring into Schumer’s goal is his desire to pass an extension of the child tax credit by Dec. 28 so that payments will not be interrupted.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Monday, December 13:

House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol: Business Meeting on a Report Recommending that the House of Representatives Cite Mark Randall Meadows for Criminal Contempt of Congress.

  • Tuesday, December 14:
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing to examine the nomination of Robert Califf to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
    • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing to examine the nomination of Eric Garcetti to be Ambassador to the Republic of India, Amy Gutmann to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, and other pending nominations.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to examine stablecoins, focusing on how they work, how they are used, and their risks.
    • House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Hearing: “A Global Crisis Needs a Global Solution: The Urgent Need to Accelerate Vaccinations Around the World.”
  • Wednesday, December 15:
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to examine disaster recovery assistance, focusing on authorization of the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery Program.
    • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights Hearing to examine the impact of consolidation and monopoly power on American innovation.
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Oversight hearing to examine the U.S. airline industry.

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