Breaking Up the BBB

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On Wednesday, President Biden acknowledged that his signature $1.75 trillion tax and social spending plan may need to be broken up in order to move forward in the U.S. Senate. In recent weeks, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has signaled that he is supportive of the provisions in the package related to climate change and greenhouse gas mitigation and it appears that there is interest, at least in the Administration, in cleaving this piece of the Build Back Better Act and moving it as a standalone measure. It remains unclear at this point what specific provisions would be included in such a bill, but the House-passed BBB contained a number of positive forestry provisions and considerable funding for deploying innovative wood products in construction projects.

Still No Path Forward on BBB

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President Biden’s signature legislation remains stalled in the U.S. Senate with no clear path forward in the foreseeable future. The House-passed measure lacks the 50 votes necessary to clear the upper chamber under budget reconciliation rules. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been the most outspoken Democrat opposing the comprehensive bill, asserting that spending in the package would further drive up inflation, among other things. Those concerns were amplified this week when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released inflation data Wednesday showing that the consumer price index hit a four decade high of 7 percent in December compared to a year ago.

BBB Remains Stalled

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It was a relatively slow week in Washington, with the House of Representatives still on holiday recess and the Senate focused on processing nominations for administration positions. The most notable development was Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) acknowledging earlier this week upon the Senate’s return from the holiday break that there are no negotiations occurring between him, the White House, and Senate leadership over the Build Back Better Act. The House-passed bill appears to have no path forward in the Senate at this point.

BBB Suspense, National Defense Authorization Act, and Green Building

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Act. Despite the fact that votes are still not there in the Senate on the legislation, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pledged before the holidays that the Senate would hold a vote on the measure in early January. Senator Schumer made that commitment shortly after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) publicly stated that he could not support the bill, which drew strong rebukes from both the White House and Congressional Democrat leadership.

Fatal Blow for BBB?

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Over the weekend, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) dealt what could be a fatal blow to President Biden’s comprehensive social spending plan—the Build Back Better Act. The Senator had been signaling for months that he has concerns with the legislation, namely that spending in the bill would threaten to further drive inflation. Although the legislation is being pursued through the budget reconciliation process that requires a mere simple majority instead of the normal 60 votes to clear the upper chamber, every single Democrat must be on board as all Senate Republicans have vowed to oppose the bill.

Build Back Better Struggles

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Congress confronted and addressed two of their outstanding deliverables for December, having passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government running past December 3 when funding was slated to expire. The CR sent to the President on December 3, funds federal government operations through February 18. The other was the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had predicted that the U.S. would exhaust its borrowing authority on December 15.

Congress Facing a Must Pass List

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The House and Senate returned to Washington this week facing a number of looming “must pass” items. The first is funding the government past December 3, when the current Continuing Resolution expires. On Thursday, the Senate approved a stopgap spending bill that will keep the government funded until Feb. 18. The vote was strong 69 to 28, with 19 Republicans joining with the Democrats to prevent a shutdown. The Senate also rejected a Republican amendment that would have barred private-sector vaccine mandates.

Senate Tackles Build Back Better

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As we detailed on last Friday’s Advocate, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act and it proceeds now to the Senate. The House and Senate are in recess this week but will return to Washington next week. There are a couple of other items in the comprehensive bill to which we wanted to draw your attention. One of these is included in the green energy tax portion of the bill that was crafted by the House Ways and Means Committee and folded into the amended product that is on its way to the Senate.

Build Back Better and ETS Legal Battles

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The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act this morning by a vote of 220-213. The bill now proceeds to the Senate for consideration. We remain concerned with revenue raisers in the package and have communicated opposition to them with Members of Congress. Our focus has been on provisions raising tax rates on small and medium sized business that are organized as S-Corporations or other pass through structures.

The House Approves the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

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Last Friday, the House of Representatives approved a comprehensive infrastructure package titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) that passed the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan vote in August. The measure, which passed the House on a vote of 228-206 (13 Republicans voted for the bill, 6 Democrats voted against) includes over a half trillion dollars in spending on roads, ports, bridges, and rail, among other priorities.

Elusive Congressional Deals & the Vaccine Mandate

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Negotiations to move a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure spending package and larger budget reconciliation bill through the House are in overdrive, but a deal as of Friday morning has not been reached. Speaker Pelosi had hoped to have floor votes on Thursday and her whip team was working aggressively to secure commitments, but the 218 votes are not currently there for these two proposals moving together.

Infrastructure, Taxes & Vaccine Mandate Imminent

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On Thursday morning, President Biden released a compromise framework for his Build Back Better plan. Although the $1.75 trillion framework does not delve into all the details and a considerable number of significant items still need to be worked out, the framework has been agreed to by holdout Democrat moderates in the Senate.

Vaccine Mandates & Workforce Development

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On October the 12th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent its proposed COVID vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review. Recall that this proposal will require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure employees are COVID vaccinated or are tested weekly.

Softwood Lumber Subsidies and Forest Products Legislation

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In the October 8 edition of the Federal Register, a notice was published by the Department of Commerce seeking comment on existing softwood lumber subsidies in competing countries. Under the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008, the Secretary of Commerce is required to submit a report to Congress every six months on any subsidy–including stumpage subsidies–provided by countries exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States. Commerce submitted its last subsidy report to Congress on June 30, 2021.

Debt Ceiling & Infrastructure Defining Negotiations

Legislative Update

The House missed its self imposed deadline last week to vote on a $1 trillion, Senate-passed, bipartisan infrastructure bill known as the BIF—or Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. Although nearly 20 House Republicans signaled that they would vote for the measure, the House Democrat Progressive Caucus stood firm in its opposition to moving forward on BIF without a firm commitment to vote on the much larger social spending provisions being pursued through the budget reconciliation process.

PRO Act Update and Congressional Catchup

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This week, ABMA sent a letter to all Members of Congress urging inclusion of meaningful workforce development investments in any infrastructure and/or budget reconciliation package that is ultimately enacted. In their efforts to trim down the overall cost of the budget reconciliation bill, Senate leaders are considering slashing funding for workforce development by almost 90 percent. 

Infrastructure and Reconciliation Debates Continue

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On Tuesday, the full House voted 220-211 to pass H.R. 5305, a measure that would keep the government funded at current levels until December 3. The current fiscal year runs out September 30. The bill also waives the federal debt cap limit until December 2022 and includes almost $30 billion in disaster aid for states that have suffered from hurricane damage and other natural disasters. As part of this disaster aid, $5 billion is allotted for housing and economic development projects and $2.6 billion for highway repairs.

Tax Update, Vaccine Mandate, and More

Legislative Update

The House Ways & Means Committee wrapped up a few marathon sessions this week marking up its piece of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. As anticipated, a number of tax increase proposals totaling $2.2 trillion on businesses and individuals advanced.

Workforce Development

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On September 9th, the House Education and Labor Committee began marking up its piece of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package to deliver on the Administration’s Build Back Better plan.

Infrastructure Package

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In mid-August, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive infrastructure package titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bipartisan measure includes over a half trillion dollars in spending on roads, ports, bridges, and rail, among other priorities.

Infrastructure Summary

Infrastructure

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive infrastructure package titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act…