June 24, 2022
What to expect in Washington (June 24)
The Senate late June 23 approved 65-33 the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (gun safety bill) that includes health provisions. A House vote is expected later today. The Senate has now adjourned and will next convene on Monday, July 11, at 3:00 p.m. The House has a Committee Work Week next week and is out the following week. The two-week congressional break comes amid an uncertain outlook for a budget reconciliation bill and the USICA-COMPETES competitiveness conference committee.
Reconciliation — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) met again June 22 over a slimmed-down reconciliation package, but there is no clarity on if or when there will be a bill and what it would include. Punchbowl reported June 23 that Senator Manchin said a deal isn't particularly close and is non-committal on the extension of enhanced ACA premium tax credits due to expire.
"The most important thing, if they're going to do anything, take this inflation as seriously as you can take it because it's the most serious thing we have going right now. And you have to get your house in order and get that under control. And it's paying down debt. That means you gotta start paying down debt," Senator Manchin said. "You don't have a lot of options to do a lot of other things. So you have to be realistic about what you got. … And I supported [ACA subsidies] in the regular bill. But the bottom line is there's only so many dollars to go around. And the rest of it — you saw the big package and the wish list they have on climate. I don't know what [Democratic leadership and the White House are] going to do."
Competitiveness — Tax-writing committee leaders met again June 23 to discuss USICA-COMPETES trade items. Politico reported on Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her leadership team "have stepped up their personal engagement in recent days to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill," warning members that more of their pet provisions may have to drop to ensure the overall legislation can pass before the end of the summer. "Many moderate Democrats are hoping to campaign on the bill and its $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, the sources said, and their desire to get a bill over the finish line is driving some of leadership's haste on the bill." The continued impasse over the trade title has led congressional leaders to consider ditching the trade provisions altogether so they can pass the semiconductor funding sooner. But some trade provisions enjoy support in both chambers, like reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, Politico reported.
Retirement — The Senate Finance Committee June 22 approved by a unanimous 28-0 vote the Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act, intended to be folded into 'SECURE 2.0' retirement legislation. Like the bill passed by the House March 29, the EARN Act includes provisions on 403(b) multiple employer plans, part-time workers, treating student loan payments as elective deferrals eligible for employer matching payments, and insurance-dedicated exchange-traded funds. While the House bill would increase catch-up contributions to $10,000 ($5,000 for SIMPLE plans) between ages 62-64, the Senate Finance bill would permit participants to elect to contribute the additional amount between ages 60-63. Both bills would also increase the age for required minimum distributions from 72 to 75 and remove required minimum distribution barriers for life annuities.
The Committee adopted 23-5 an amendment by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) to accelerate the effective date of the exclusion of changes to certain disability-related first responder payments, offset by the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act (S. 2256) to impose a limitation on the tax deduction for qualified conservation contributions made by certain partnerships if the amount of the contribution exceeds 2.5% times the sum of each partner's relevant basis in the partnership. The proposal was modified to apply only to contributions made after the date of enactment, as opposed to the December 2016 effective date in the bill as introduced.
While House and Senate floor activity is paused for the next two weeks, What to Expect in Washington won't be published, though Alerts will be issued as events warrant.