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Legislative Update

House. The House will reconvene on Jan. 10 for the second session of the 117th Congress.

Senate. Senators stayed in session until 4 a.m. on Saturday, wrapping up confirmation votes for 41 ambassadors, nine federal district court judges, and a handful of other Administration nominees. The Senate will reconvene on Jan. 3, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said today that voting rights legislation will be at the top of the agenda.

Build Back Better. After Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) put the kibosh on the President’s Build Back Better plan Sunday, the talk turned to the question, “Can BBB be salvaged?” Senate Democrats will certainly have something to say about this when they convene Tuesday evening for a virtual caucus meeting to discuss next year’s agenda. In a letter to his Democratic colleagues today, Leader Schumer said that “the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television. We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”

The “television” remark clearly refers to Sunday morning’s appearance on Fox News by Senator Manchin, who reportedly made a counteroffer to the White House last week. According to the Washington Post, Manchin said he would accept a $1.75 trillion package that included a scaled-back version of the $550 billion in climate-related initiatives, an expansion of Obamacare, and funding for universal pre-k for 10 years rather than a few years. On the matter of the expanded child tax credit, Manchin believes the credit should be targeted to families with modest income and extended for 10 years not just one, which he views as a budget gimmick. However, a 10-year extension of the child tax credit could cost $1 trillion, depending on the income threshold, which would leave little room in the package for other initiatives.

In addition to concerns with specific provisions, Manchin also wants the reconciliation bill to go through the committee process, rather than having the full Senate take up and amend the House-passed bill. That demand could be a non-starter with Schumer.

As far as the current process is concerned, the Senate parliamentarian and Senators are continuing to go through the Byrd bath to see what provisions meet the reconciliation requirements. Last week, the parliamentarian ruled that the bill’s immigration provisions did not pass the Byrd rule, but she has not yet made any determinations regarding the tax or drug pricing sections of the legislation.

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