Senate. The Senate is moving toward a final vote Wednesday on what is now being referred to as the CHIPS-Plus bill. The legislation contains the CHIPS Act of 2022, which provides appropriations to implement programs authorized by the CHIPS for America Act approved in 2020, plus authorization for science research and development initiatives. In addition to $52 billion in funding for grants and incentives for U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, the measure also creates a temporary, four-year 25% investment tax credit for investments in semiconductor manufacturing.
In other action, the Senate is expected to give final approval to legislation providing benefits for veterans affected by exposure to toxic burn pits and airborne hazards while they served overseas. If there’s time on this week’s schedule, the Senate could also pass its version of the 2022 Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes improvements to the nation’s waterways and invests in flood control projects.
House. The House, which is planning to pass the CHIPS-Plus bill once it clears the Senate, has a full schedule as it prepares to begin its August recess at the end of this week. In addition to consideration of 29 bills under suspension of the rules, the House will vote on a handful of other measures, including legislation that would allow Medicare to continue to offer certain telehealth services through Dec. 31, 2024. The recess schedule calls for the House to be out of session until Sept. 13, but the Speaker is expected to bring Members back to vote on a reconciliation bill if it is approved by the Senate in August.
Reconciliation. Senate Democrats believe they have a path to approve a very slimmed down reconciliation bill with only two major provisions – a drug pricing proposal and an extension of enhanced premium subsidies for Obamacare insurance. This past Thursday and Friday, the Senate parliamentarian held sessions with Democratic and Republican staff to discuss whether provisions in the drug pricing bill meet the rules to be included in a reconciliation bill. As a result of those discussions, Democrats are reportedly making tweaks to the legislative language.
At some point this week, the parliamentarian is expected to release her opinion on the proposal. If the parliamentarian opines that certain sections don’t comply with the reconciliation rules and Democrats, in turn, drop those sections, the Congressional Budget Office will need to issue a new score for the revised proposal. Even though a new score would lower the $287 billion in cost savings, Democrats may try to convince Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that there are more than enough funds to provide a three-year extension of the premium subsidies rather than the two years he has agreed to, with money still available for deficit reduction.
It’s possible that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could bring the reconciliation measure to the floor as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 2. The Senate is scheduled to recess Aug. 5 but will stay in session longer if needed for debate, a vote-a-rama on unlimited amendments, and final passage of the reconciliation bill. Because Schumer needs unanimous Democratic support during this process, he has to be hopeful that his ranks won’t be hit with another batch of positive Covid tests. Today, Senator Manchin announced he has tested positive, which follows on last week’s news that Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) tested positive. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who had additional hip surgery July 19, plans to be on the Senate floor for the reconciliation votes. On the other side of the aisle, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced today she has tested positive and will be quarantining in Alaska.
FY 2023 Appropriations. Even though Democrats and Republicans have not agreed on top-line FY 2023 numbers for defense and non-defense spending, Democrats are moving forward with activity in both the House and the Senate. On July 20, the House passed a package of six appropriations bill on a party-line vote of 220-207. It appears that any House votes on the remaining bills will come after the August recess. In the Senate, Democrats on the Appropriations Committee are looking to release drafts of all 12 bills on Wednesday or Thursday. With the 2023 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, lawmakers are planning to approve a continuing resolution to fund the government until serious negotiations on individual bills take place in a lame-duck session.
Committee Action of Note
Primary Schedule. There are no primaries this week, but next week there are elections on Aug. 2 and 4. On Aug. 2, voters will go to the polls in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. On Aug. 4, Tennessee will hold primaries.