January 10, 2022
What to expect in Washington (January 10)
For the past few weeks, a main question regarding the future of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) has been whether President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress could accept Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) pre-holiday offer to the White House for 10-year funding on climate, health, and universal pre-kindergarten, but not extension of the now-expired expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). A report in the Washington Post said that deal may no longer be on the table following late-2021 White House statements that mentioned him by name and suggested he was to blame for the impasse on the bill, which Senator Manchin has repeatedly expressed his displeasure over. The Senator “has made clear that he does not currently support advancing even that offer” following the breakdown in negotiations. Manchin pulled the plug on the bill for now in a December 19 Fox News interview and has said since there are no new conversations or negotiations.
“Privately, [Manchin] made clear that he is not interested in approving legislation resembling Biden’s Build Back Better package and that Democrats should fundamentally rethink their approach,” the Post report said. “Senior Democrats say they do not believe Manchin would support his offer even if the White House tried adopting it in full — at least not at the moment — following the fallout in mid-December.” The story further said, “Manchin’s offer included proposed tax hikes that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) had already ruled out.”
The House passed its version of the bill November 19 and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on CBS’s Face the Nation January 9, “I do think there’s an agreement to be reached. It’s so important for our country…”
Politics – The New York Times noted President Biden’s recently more combative tone with Republicans, in a January 6 speech at the Capitol regarding the events there a year prior and in subsequent remarks, as a pivot away from trying to unify his party and toward drawing “Republican leaders into a more direct clash of ideas” as the 2022 midterms approach. “For some of Mr. Biden’s Democratic allies, the change in tone is a welcome shift from the dominant theme of the president’s first year, when he more often focused on his desire to unify the country and struggled to negotiate with members of his own party,” the report said. “Now, they say, it is time for Mr. Biden to focus not only on his own achievements, but also on how the Republican Party threatens to reverse those efforts if it returns to power on Capitol Hill.”
“[Republicans] want to talk down the recovery because they voted against the legislation that made it happen,” President Biden said January 7 in remarks on the jobs report. “They voted against the tax cuts for middle-class families. They voted against the funds we needed to reopen our schools, to keep police officers and firefighters on the job, to lower healthcare premiums. They voted against the funds we’re now using to buy COVID booster shots and more antiviral pills. I refuse to let them stand in the way of this recovery. And now, my focus is on keeping this recovery strong and durable, notwithstanding Republican obstructionism.”
Congress – The next Senate roll call vote will be at 5:30 p.m. today, related to a Commerce Department nomination. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) 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 February 18 government funding deadline will follow soon after.
“Over the next five or six days, Schumer will, once again, force a debate on voting rights legislation and other measures Democrats believe will protect elections. These are destined for defeat in the face of a Republican filibuster that will leave the Senate deadlocked at 50-50. He then wants to debate rules changes that would at a minimum carve out voting rights as an issue that does not require the 60-vote supermajority to cut off debate and force a final vote,” according to an analysis in the January 9 Washington Post. “But Sens. [Manchin] and [Sinema] have been clear they will not support a party-line move to change the rules…”
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD) announced he will run for re-election, after creating some suspense as to whether he would. “I’ve always promised that I would do the work, even when it was hard, uncomfortable, or unpopular… I’m asking South Dakotans for the opportunity to continue serving them…” Senator Thune said in a statement. As the second-ranking Senate Republican, Thune is a possible eventual successor to Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He is also a member of the Finance Committee and very active on tax issues.
After previously pledging to serve only two terms, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) also announced his intention to run for a third term, citing the need to counter “the disastrous policies [Democrats] have already inflicted on America and the world, to say nothing of those they threaten to enact in the future.”
Plenty of other members are retiring after their current terms: six senators and three dozen House members, including 25 Democrats. Asked on Fox Sunday Morning Futures January 9 how many House seats Republicans could flip in the 2022 elections, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said, “there’s only a five-seat majority for the Democrats, the lowest it has been in 100 years. We have redistricting going on… But that number 25 is a very big number for Democrat retirements. In 2010, when we won the majority, 17 Democrats retired. Already, 25. I expect that number to be up to over 30 [Democratic] retirements…”
EY Webcasts this week include: