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January 9, 2022

Americas Tax Policy: This Week in Tax Policy for January 7

This week (January 10-14)

Congress: The House and Senate are in session. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate will "as soon as next week" bring up voting rights legislation.

Last week (January 3-7)

BBBA update: Any potential Senate action on the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) budget reconciliation bill looks to be at least weeks or months away as the chamber is focused in the near-term on trying to advance voting rights legislation. Next steps on the BBBA are also unclear after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said in December he could not vote for the current version. Senator Manchin said during a news conference January 4, "there [have] been no conversations after I made my statement" December 19, putting the bill on ice for the time being, and "there [are] no negotiations going on at this time." Democratic leaders and the White House have insisted there are efforts to forge a path forward on the bill. Politico Playbook January 7 said the White House may be looking to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) — a friend of Manchin's and noted dealmaker on the 2021 infrastructure bill and in general — to move the BBBA negotiations forward, in a report noting that Manchin is currently pessimistic on the talks in the absence of a "reset" from the Administration. Senator Manchin has repeatedly suggested that he was rankled by late-2021 White House statements that mentioned him by name. The report noted, "the White House has discussed repackaging BBB by breaking off a piece or pieces of policy to revive the talks, a senior Senate source said, adding that negotiations are still ongoing."

There is skepticism on Capitol Hill that the BBBA effort can get restarted quickly. In a January 4 report in The Hill Newspaper, Democratic aides said the BBBA "won't be ready for floor action any time soon and predict the wide-ranging legislation that the White House has negotiated with centrist Sens. [Manchin] and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) may have to be completely overhauled." Further, following the omission of the issue from the January 3 Schumer Dear Colleague letter on rules changes, "Democratic aides warn that means Build Back Better probably won't be ready to come to the floor until March or later. And whatever version of the bill comes up for a vote will be markedly different from the $1.75 trillion framework that Manchin resoundingly rejected during a 'Fox News Sunday' interview on Dec. 19, aides say." The January 5 Wall Street Journal reported that "lawmakers haven't yet started the process" of restructuring the bill to address Senator Manchin's concerns, though "a White House official said the Biden administration was in touch with several lawmakers about a path forward on the bill."

Another potential deadline to try to reach agreement and pass a refashioned version of the BBBA may be March 1, when the President is now scheduled to give his State of the Union address.

Child Tax Credit: Senator Joe Manchin's (D-WV) primary objection seems to be the extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) that is in the bill, and the potential cost over the 10-year budget window if the one-year extension in the BBBA is extended further. The Congressional Budget Office in December said the $185 billion one-year extension in the BBBA would cost $1.6 trillion if extended over the 10-year budget window. Senator Manchin in December made an offer to the White House for 10-year policies on climate, health, and universal pre-kindergarten, but not the CTC. During the January 4 news conference, Manchin said he doesn't view the expiration of the CTC expansion as dire because the pre-expansion amount remains in effect, and "I think there should be a work requirement." Asked on CNN's New Day January 4 whether the inclusion of a CTC extension is a red line in the BBBA debate or whether he would be willing to omit the provision, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "There are discussions with Senator Manchin on that — on all of these issues, including the child tax credit. I'm not going to get into a public debate. To many of us, myself included, the child tax credit is so important."

Government funding: Senator Schumer has said the Senate will debate and consider rules changes by January 17 to try to clear voting rights bills opposed by Republicans. The Senate is then scheduled to be in a State Work Period until January 24 (the House is scheduled to be in that week, though). The February 18 government funding deadline will follow soon after. Democratic leaders are looking to reach a deal with Republicans on funding levels for federal agencies and on contentious policy riders and act on an omnibus appropriations bill by the February 18 deadline. Punchbowl reported, "There has been some suggestion of pairing additional Covid relief funding and other social spending with an increase in Pentagon funding as a centerpiece of a broader budget deal. While lawmakers on the left and right would object, some senior appropriators in both chambers believe enough votes could be found to push a package through the House and Senate."


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