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June 13, 2022

What to expect in Washington (June 13)

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) continue to discuss parameters for a slimmed-down reconciliation package, with no immediate agreement in sight. Politico reported today, "If the chatter over Democrats trying to clinch a big fiscal package reached a fever pitch last weekend, then the temperature of the talks is decidedly more lukewarm right now."

News stories and editorials over the weekend continued to suggest that high gas prices and other signs of inflation are linked with Democrats' fortunes in the midterm elections, with no clear path for policymakers to alleviate strains on consumers. President Biden on Friday said the Administration's success in lowering the Federal deficit allows the US to "tackle inflation from a position of strength unlike any other country in the world" and the benefits of the 2021 infrastructure law improved supply chain clogs. He laid out measures Congress should take to lower consumer costs on prescription drugs, including capping the price of insulin. "The point is: We're doing everything in our power to lower costs to families … "

A story in the Sunday Washington Post said, "The unrelenting upward march of gas prices has emerged as one of the chief domestic political threats to the Biden administration ahead of this fall's midterm elections, and the White House has few obvious solutions to reverse the trend despite an intensive push by top aides and the president himself. The White House is now caught between liberal allies in Congress who are pushing for escalating a populist attack on oil and gas firms, and the views of some of their trusted economic experts who believe those efforts could prove counterproductive … Americans are not accustomed to seeing energy prices as high as they have been over the last several months."

New York Times editorial: "As the midterm elections draw nearer, a central conservative narrative is coming into sharp focus: President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress have a made a mess of the American economy. Republicans see pure political gold in this year's slow-motion stock market crash, which seems to be accelerating at the perfect time for a party seeking to regain control of Congress in the fall."

Another Post story on congressional races in Nevada said, "At several events across Las Vegas, House Democrats pointed to the roughly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan that the party passed without GOP support as the reason for the quick recovery. Republican members and strategists have spent the past year countering that the Democratic-passed recovery bill is a contributor to inflation. Acknowledging the burden of inflation, Democrats argue that they are still the party with the policies to lower the prices that the government can control."

An editorial in the June 11 Wall Street Journal said, "spending and expanded child-tax credits in the name of aiding workers contributed to inflation that erased the value of [higher wages]. Workers would be far better off now if Congress hadn't passed $2.8 trillion in Covid 'relief' in late 2020 and early 2021. Democrats owe West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin thanks for saving them from worse inflation had they passed $4.5 trillion in Build Back Better spending. The May [consumer price] report ought to kill BBB's last desperate vestiges."

Congress — The Senate returns to session today with a vote related to H.R. 3967, to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances. A bipartisan deal on gun legislation has been announced and could be on the floor next week, Punchbowl reported, saying, "The bipartisan group led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) wants to pass this bill before the July 4 recess."

Bills considered by the House this week include:

  • S. 3580 — Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022
  • H.R. 2543 — Financial Services Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Economic Justice Act
  • H.R. 7606 — Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act

On Tuesday, June 14 (10 a.m.), the Finance Committee will hold a hearing, "Examining the Impact of South Dakota v. Wayfair on Small Businesses and Remote Sales." Witnesses represent GAO, the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, the Sales Tax Institute, and businesses.

The Senate HELP Committee is scheduled to mark up on Tuesday, June 14 (10 a.m.), the RISE & SHINE Act intended to be incorporated into 'SECURE 2.0' retirement legislation. The bill would allow employers to offer emergency savings accounts and improve communications to retirement plan participants and transparency around lump-sum buyout offers for pension plan participants. It addresses topics covered in the House-passed retirement bill, including 403(b) multiple employer plans and plan access for part-time workers.

The HELP Committee markup will also consider S. 4348, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act.

On Wednesday, June 15 (3 p.m.), the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness will hold a hearing, "Supply Chain Resiliency: Alleviating Backlogs and Strengthening Long-Term Security," which was rescheduled from May 25. Witnesses represent the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Trinity Logistics, the American Leadership Initiative, and America's Frontier Fund.

Friday, June 17 (12 p.m.) is the EY Webcast, "Tax in the time of COVID-19: Update on legislative, economic, regulatory and IRS developments." Register.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
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