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Legislative Update

House. The House will reconvene Jan. 10. On Dec. 29, Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended the period for remote voting until Feb. 13 after receiving notification that the public health emergency is still in effect.

Senate. The Senate is in session this week and will vote on nominations.

Voting Rights. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advised his colleagues today that the Senate will take up voting rights legislation in the coming weeks and if Republicans continue to block passage, “the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.” While Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have joined with all of their Democratic colleagues to support voting rights legislation, they oppose eliminating the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to cut off debate.

Schumer did not specify what rules changes the Senate would consider, but various options short of elimination are under discussion. These include requiring a talking filibuster, creating a carve-out from the filibuster for voting rights legislation, or requiring 41 Senators to vote “no” to break a filibuster rather than 60 “yes” votes. Another proposal would eliminate the 60-vote hurdle on the motion to proceed to legislation while retaining it for ending debate on the bill itself. Any changes to the filibuster rules will require a majority vote, i.e., 50 Democratic votes plus a tie-breaking vote from the Vice President if all 50 Republicans oppose.

Reconciliation. The future of the BBBA (Build Back Better Act) is TBD (To Be Determined). The Administration and Congressional Democrats remain optimistic that they can come to an agreement with Senator Manchin on a reconciliation package that can win the backing of all other Senate Democrats. Still to be factored in is how the Senate parliamentarian will rule on various proposals in the legislation.

FY 2022 Appropriations. Also on the TBD list is whether lawmakers will be able to pass an omnibus appropriations bill by Feb. 18, when the current continuing resolution expires, or whether another CR will be needed. Action on the appropriations measures is on hold until top Democrats and Republicans agree on overall funding levels for defense and non-defense programs for the fiscal year.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Wednesday, January 5:
    • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions business meeting to consider the nominations of:
      • Robert Califf to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
      • Jose Javier Rodriguez to be Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the Department of Labor
      • Lisa Gomez to be Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor
      • Amy Loyd to be Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education
      • Javier Ramirez to be the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
      • David Weil to be the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor
      • Linda Puchala to be a Member of the National Mediation Board
    • Senate Rules and Administration Committee Oversight Hearing to examine the U.S. Capitol Police following the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Hearing to examine how Community Development Financial Institutions support underserved communities.

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