Senate. The Senate will continue to consider nominations, which could include the nomination of Steven Dettelbach to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The Senate could also vote on a package of gun control initiatives agreed to by 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. The agreement includes some $20 billion in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades, with the cost being offset by a one-year delay of a Medicare drug rebate rule. The bipartisan infrastructure bill delayed the rule until Jan. 1, 2026, and the gun legislation would further delay it until Jan. 1, 2027.
House. If the Senate approves the gun control legislation, the House is expected to quickly pass it and send it to the President for his signature. The House schedule this week includes votes on legislation to support mental health programs and a bill to authorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Health (ARPA-H) as an independent agency within HHS. When legislative business is concluded at the end of the week, the House and Senate will begin a two-week recess for the July 4th holiday, although the House will hold committee hearings next week.
Reconciliation. With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continuing their meetings, there has been increased speculation that a deal on reconciliation legislation can be reached. Much of the reporting focuses on tax increases, drug pricing, climate provisions, and deficit reduction, but there is another component that is of critical importance to many Democratic lawmakers – Obamacare health insurance.
The American Rescue Plan that was enacted in March 2021 included provisions designed to expand availability of insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The ARP increased the size of ACA health insurance premium tax credits in 2021 and 2022 and made more people eligible for the tax credits. With the ARP enhancements scheduled to expire at the end of this year, it is estimated that millions of people will either lose coverage or pay substantially more for premiums in 2023.
The Build Back Better reconciliation bill that the House passed in November would extend the subsidies and expanded eligibility thresholds through 2025. Democrats would like those provisions to be included in the Senate’s reconciliation bill and are sensitive to the fact that many persons currently purchasing Obamacare insurance will be hit with sticker shock this fall when they are notified of the changes that are scheduled to take place in 2023 when the ARP provisions expire.
Committee Action of Note
Elections Today. There are primaries today in Virginia and runoff races in Alabama and Georgia. In Alabama, Republican voters will choose their nominee for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Richard Shelby (R). The runoff race pits Katie Britt, a former top aide to Shelby, against Rep. Mo Brooks. The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Rev. Dr. Will Boyd. In Virginia, Republican voters will pick nominees against Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger in highly competitive districts.
Texas Recounts. A recount of ballots from the May 24 Democratic primary runoffs has confirmed that Rep. Henry Cuellar is the winner in the 28th District, defeating Jessica Cisneros by 289 votes. In the 15th District, Michelle Vallejo edged Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes. The 15th District seat is open because its incumbent, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D), is running in a neighboring district due to redistricting.
Texas Runoff. In the June 14 special election to replace Rep. Filemon Vela (D), who resigned, the winner was Republican Mayra Flores. Flores’ victory over Democrat Dan Sanchez in the 34th District marks the first congressional seat to flip party control in 2022. In November, Flores will face off against Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.
House Margins. With tonight’s swearing in of Republican Mayra Flores, there are now 220 Democrats, 210 Republicans, and five vacancies in the House. One of those vacancies will be filled by the winner of the June 28 special election in Nebraska to fill the seat of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who resigned March 31.