Much of Build Back Better Will Pass This Year, Hoyer Insists

Much of Build Back Better Will Pass This Year, Hoyer Insists

President Biden Marks 31st Anniversary Of The Americans With Disabilities Act
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Good Tuesday evening! It’s been a great evening for Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, the only 2022 candidate elected to the MLB Hall of Fame. Now down to business:

Much of Build Back Better Will Pass This Year, Hoyer Insists

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Tuesday that he thinks that a significant part of Democrats’ Build Back Better package will become law this year, before the midterm elections.

"I’m of the belief that Build Back Better is going to pass," Hoyer said in an interview with Politico. "It won’t pass as we sent it to the Senate, obviously. It will be changed, but that’s the legislative process."

Hoyer also said he didn’t think Democrats could pass the bill in smaller pieces — or "chunks," as President Joe Biden said last week — and instead should concentrate on the elements that can be included in a single major piece of legislation.

Hoyer noted that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose rejection of the version of the bill passed by the House has left the legislation in limbo, supports numerous provisions within the overall package. "The overwhelming majority of that piece of legislation is supported by 50 Democratic United States senators, and they’ve said so," he said. "There are some things that they don’t support, and we haven’t moved ahead on that. But we need to keep working on that, and we need to get it done."

What the bill could look like: So what could Manchin conceivably support? Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig highlights three areas:

* Health care: The Build Back Better bill passed by the House includes new subsidies for those buying health insurance through the federal exchanges, and Manchin included a similar provision in the now-withdrawn version he offered to the White House last month. In addition, Manchin has expressed interest in the bill’s proposal to allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices.

* Education: Democrats want to fund universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year olds, a plan Manchin supports.

* Climate: The House bill included more than $500 billion for climate-related initiatives, with a heavy emphasis on the use of tax credits to spur the transition to green energy. "The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else," Manchin said earlier this month. "There's a lot of good things in there."

Plenty of turmoil ahead: Although some Democrats are hopeful they can push a large part of Biden’s agenda across the finish line in the coming months, there is considerable disagreement about the best way to proceed, and no small degree of anger over the failure to do so quickly. Some Democrats vented their anger at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to Politico. "The level of malpractice is stunning. BBB is a once-in-a-10-year opportunity, and we f--ked it up," one unnamed House aide said.

Another complication could come from across the aisle. As if Democrats didn’t have enough hurdles to clear internally, a conservative group is rolling out an ad campaign designed to pressure Manchin and fellow Democrat Sen. Jon Tester (MT) to oppose the Build Back Better bill. The Common Sense Leadership Fund is reportedly spending $1.5 million on ads warning about the "liberal agenda" promoted by the bill.

Even if Democrats in the Senate can come to an agreement with Manchin, it’s not clear that progressives in the House will accept a compromise bill. Optimistic as he may be, Hoyer admitted that the battle over the size and scope of the bill could be difficult. What happens in the House if the Senate passes a "skinny" bill to please Manchin? "Very frankly, we’ll have a decision to make," Hoyer said. "Do we support that which the Senate can pass?"

Map of the Day: Money for States

Some states are "swimming in cash" thanks to higher-than-expected tax revenues and billions in federal aid, The Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind reported a few days ago.

"State revenues between April and November increased 24% from 2020 to 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Urban Institute think tank," Vielkind wrote. "Thirty-two states said revenue collections for fiscal years ending in 2022 were ahead of projections, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, including South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington."

With aggregate reserve funds now near a record $113 billion, many states are planning some combination of tax rebates, infrastructure investments, pension system top-offs and debt reductions to take advantage of the good times while they last.

Biden Administration Withdraws Vaccine Mandate for Large Businesses

The Biden administration on Tuesday said it is withdrawing its Covid-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. The move comes after the Supreme Court blocked the rule earlier this month.

The mandate, which required businesses with 100 or more employees to get their shots or be tested regularly and wear a face covering at work, was a key element of President Biden’s push to increase vaccination rates. It was expected to apply to some 84 million workers, and officials reportedly estimated that it would save thousands of lives prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over the first six months.

But the requirement was quickly greeted with legal challenges and the Supreme Court ruled on January 13 that the mandate published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had overstepped federal authority. The court allowed a separate vaccine requirement for certain health care workers to stand.

The high court decision covering businesses, a 6-3 split between the conservative majority and liberal minority of justices, left the Biden administration little choice. "After evaluating the Court's decision, OSHA is withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard," the agency wrote in a document set to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, adding that it "continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by Covid-19 in the workplace."

The bottom line: "It’s their admitting what everyone had been saying, which is that the rule is dead," Brett Coburn, a lawyer at Alston & Bird, told The New York Times.

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