What's in Store for the Rest of the 117th Congress?

What's in Store for the Rest of the 117th Congress?

As the current Congress moves into its second session, the Biden Administration may continue to face challenges in accomplishing its priorities...

President Joe Biden and his Democratic party have faced a parade of stinging defeats in recent weeks, from the U.S. Supreme Court halting the vaccine mandate for large employers to members of the party blocking voting rights legislation. As the current Congress moves into its second session, the Biden Administration may continue to face challenges in accomplishing its priorities. Here is what’s on the agenda: 

Voting Rights

On January 19, 2021, Senate Republicans filibustered the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought to change the Senate rules to allow the voting rights bill to pass by a simple majority vote, his efforts were unsuccessful, as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) sided with Republicans in rejecting the filibuster proposal. 

With a comprehensive voting rights package likely off the table, the Biden Administration may look to pass more modest changes, such as amendments to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which established the process for certifying the results of presidential elections. While Republicans have expressed a willingness to consider ECA reform, Democrats would likely want to include other voting reforms.

Build Back Better Act

President Joe Biden recently gave a lengthy press conference in which he addressed the fate of his Build Back Better bill. The President acknowledged that the legislation may need to be broken down into “chunks” and not all of his proposals may make it into law.

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest later," Biden stated. "There’s two really big components that I feel strongly about that I’m not sure I can get in the package. One is the child care tax credit and the other is help for the cost of community colleges."

If Congress is able to pass a slimmed-down version of Build Back Better, it would likely include proposed climate provisions, as well universal prekindergarten. Any remaining measures, such as the Child Tax Credit, free community college, and paid leave, would likely be subject to the lengthy budget reconciliation process.

Omnibus Budget Bill

The fiscal 2022 spending bill deadline, which was extended to February 18, 2022, is quickly approaching. To date, none of the 12 appropriation bills for FY 2022 have been enacted. If Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal, they will need to resort to another continuing resolution and agencies will lock in at least last year’s funding levels. 

To reach a deal, Democrats and Republicans must agree on the balance of defense and domestic spending, along with often-controversial policy riders. While Democrats have acknowledged that they are willing to boost funding for defense, it is still unclear if it will be enough to secure a deal before the deadlines. 

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), negotiations are headed in the right direction. "If we could cut a deal, and it's something we could live with, that's what this place is about,” Shelby told Politico. “And that's what we have to do sometimes. But it has to be something that would be palatable to our caucus and theirs too — maybe not everything everybody wants.”

Key Takeaway

As discussed above, a lot of work remains to be done to advance the Biden Administration’s top priorities. Additionally, efforts to negotiate passage of the Build Back Better Act or voting rights reform, may ultimately slow progress on budget talks.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.


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AboutEdward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward “Teddy” Eynon is Managing Partner of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Washington, D.C. office. Teddy regularly represents clients in numerous government-related matters, including public policy, energy and environment, budget, defense, healthcare, financial services, transportation & infrastructure, congressional investigations, and oversight issues.Full Biography

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What's in Store for the Rest of the 117th Congress?

What's in Store for the Rest of the 117th Congress?
Author: Edward "Teddy" Eynon

President Joe Biden and his Democratic party have faced a parade of stinging defeats in recent weeks, from the U.S. Supreme Court halting the vaccine mandate for large employers to members of the party blocking voting rights legislation. As the current Congress moves into its second session, the Biden Administration may continue to face challenges in accomplishing its priorities. Here is what’s on the agenda: 

Voting Rights

On January 19, 2021, Senate Republicans filibustered the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought to change the Senate rules to allow the voting rights bill to pass by a simple majority vote, his efforts were unsuccessful, as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) sided with Republicans in rejecting the filibuster proposal. 

With a comprehensive voting rights package likely off the table, the Biden Administration may look to pass more modest changes, such as amendments to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which established the process for certifying the results of presidential elections. While Republicans have expressed a willingness to consider ECA reform, Democrats would likely want to include other voting reforms.

Build Back Better Act

President Joe Biden recently gave a lengthy press conference in which he addressed the fate of his Build Back Better bill. The President acknowledged that the legislation may need to be broken down into “chunks” and not all of his proposals may make it into law.

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest later," Biden stated. "There’s two really big components that I feel strongly about that I’m not sure I can get in the package. One is the child care tax credit and the other is help for the cost of community colleges."

If Congress is able to pass a slimmed-down version of Build Back Better, it would likely include proposed climate provisions, as well universal prekindergarten. Any remaining measures, such as the Child Tax Credit, free community college, and paid leave, would likely be subject to the lengthy budget reconciliation process.

Omnibus Budget Bill

The fiscal 2022 spending bill deadline, which was extended to February 18, 2022, is quickly approaching. To date, none of the 12 appropriation bills for FY 2022 have been enacted. If Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal, they will need to resort to another continuing resolution and agencies will lock in at least last year’s funding levels. 

To reach a deal, Democrats and Republicans must agree on the balance of defense and domestic spending, along with often-controversial policy riders. While Democrats have acknowledged that they are willing to boost funding for defense, it is still unclear if it will be enough to secure a deal before the deadlines. 

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), negotiations are headed in the right direction. "If we could cut a deal, and it's something we could live with, that's what this place is about,” Shelby told Politico. “And that's what we have to do sometimes. But it has to be something that would be palatable to our caucus and theirs too — maybe not everything everybody wants.”

Key Takeaway

As discussed above, a lot of work remains to be done to advance the Biden Administration’s top priorities. Additionally, efforts to negotiate passage of the Build Back Better Act or voting rights reform, may ultimately slow progress on budget talks.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.