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Legislative Update

House. The House on Monday and Tuesday will vote on 27 non-controversial bills under suspension of the rules and will then turn to consideration of three other bills – the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act (H.R. 2668), which would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to obtain monetary restitution for victims of consumer protection and antitrust violations; the PFAS Action Act of 2021 (H.R. 2467), which would require EPA to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous; and the Allies Act of 2021 (H.R. 3985) to expedite the special immigrant visa process for certain Afghan allies.

Senate. The Senate is beginning the week with votes on nominations, but all eyes will be on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he maps out a legislative schedule for consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure agreement.

Bipartisan Deal. Leader Schumer this evening filed cloture on the motion to proceed to legislation that will be the vehicle for the bipartisan infrastructure deal. This sets up a vote on Wednesday. If 60 Senators vote for cloture, debate on the motion to proceed would be limited to 30 hours, followed by a vote on the motion. At some point, Schumer would then file cloture to end debate on the actual bill. Of course, there is no actual bill yet as the 22 Democratic and Republican members of the bipartisan group are still negotiating details of the deal. Republican negotiators say there is no way that the deal will be finalized by Wednesday. Until the details are hammered out, Republicans say they will not vote to end debate on the motion to proceed, leaving it short of the 60 needed.

Among other things, the Senators have yet to agree on a way to offset the agreement’s cost now that a proposal to raise $100 billion through increased IRS tax collections is off the table. Republicans reportedly are proposing to raise somewhere between $80 billion and $200 billion by repealing a Trump administration rule that would block drug companies from providing percentage-based rebates to pharmacy benefit managers that manage prescription drug benefits for insurance plans. The rule has not yet gone into effect due to legal challenges. Democrats do not object to the substance of the proposal, but they don’t want to use it to help pay for the bipartisan deal because they’re eyeing it as a revenue raiser for their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

Budget Resolution. Leader Schumer has also set Wednesday as a deadline for Senate Democrats to agree on the outlines for an FY 2022 budget resolution that will provide reconciliation instructions for $3.5-trillion worth of Democratic spending priorities. While it is the reconciliation legislation to be drafted in the coming months that will spell out the details of the various proposals, Democrats have indicated that the budget resolution will lay the groundwork for consideration of proposals to address climate change, immigration reform, paid family and medical leave, affordable housing, and additional Medicare benefits. It, of course, remains to be seen whether everything on the Democratic wish list, particularly a clean energy standard and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian when a reconciliation bill is considered in the Senate.

On the pay-for side of the ledger, Democrats have added “health savings” to their list, referring to some form of negotiation to cap prescription drug prices as well as the proposal that Republicans are suggesting for the bipartisan infrastructure deal to repeal the drug-rebate rule. The “health savings” are in addition to the administration’s tax proposals addressing corporate and individual rates, international tax provisions, and increased IRS tax collection. Still another revenue raiser is described as “polluter import fees,” which appears to refer to a carbon-based border adjustment tax.

Recess Schedule. The House is currently planning to recess next Friday, July 30, and is not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 20. The Senate schedule calls for the recess to begin Aug. 6, with Senators returning for three days the week of Sept. 13 before beginning a full week of work Sept. 20. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has warned that he will delay the August recess if necessary for Senators to complete work on his two priorities – the bipartisan deal and the budget resolution. House leaders, meanwhile, are signaling that their recess will begin as planned on July 30, and Members will be given 72-hours’ notice to come back to D.C. to vote on Senate-passed legislation.

It is clear that the House plans to vote on the budget resolution once it passes the Senate, but there is uncertainty surrounding House consideration of the bipartisan deal. Moderate House Democrats believe that if the bipartisan deal can pass the Senate with strong support, the House should follow suit and send the bill to the President’s desk in August. Progressive House Democrats maintain that the House should not act on a bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill. Given that the bipartisan group has not yet agreed on details of its deal, some observers remain skeptical as to whether there will actually be a Senate-passed bipartisan package.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, July 20:
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: Building Back A Better, More Equitable Housing Infrastructure for America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
    • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Hearing: Taking to the Skies: Examining TSA’s Strategy for Addressing Increased Summer Travel.
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing to examine a federal perspective on the COVID-19 response, focusing on the path forward.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearing to examine 21st Century communities, focusing on climate change, resilience, and reinsurance.
    • House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Hearing: Care for Our Communities: Investing in the Direct Care Workforce.
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing: “Bridging the Gap: Improving Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Aviation Workforce.”
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Hearing to examine preserving and improving federally assisted housing.
    • Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Hearing to examine the federal response to the drug overdose epidemic.
  • Wednesday, July 21:
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing to examine cybersecurity vulnerabilities facing our nation's physical infrastructure.
    • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: The Global Challenge of Forced Labor in Supply Chains: Strengthening Enforcement and Protecting Workers.
    • House Oversight and Reform Committee Hearing: “Building Back with Justice: Environmental Justice Is Central to the American Jobs Plan.”
    • Senate Armed Services Committee closed business meeting to mark up the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022.
  • Thursday, July 22:
    • Senate Armed Services Committee closed business meeting to continue to mark up the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022.
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight Hearing to examine current issues adversely affecting environmental justice populations.
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing to examine American workers in a 21st Century economy, focusing on the right to organize.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment Hearing to examine frameworks to address future pandemic risk.

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