Democrats Pass Budget Resolution to Set Stage for $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Package:
Early this morning the Senate wrapped up their final votes before leaving town for August recess, passing their budget resolution in a 50-49 vote that will set the stage for a proposed $3.5 trillion partisan spending bill through the budget reconciliation process. The Senate concluded its “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the budget resolution, which included several GOP amendments on issues from taxes to immigration. ABC, as part of the Main Street Employers coalition, also issued a statement of support for an amendment from Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., that would prevent changes to the 199A tax deduction for small businesses.
The Daines amendment passed by voice vote, along with other critical tax amendments from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to protect businesses against stepped up basis, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., that would maintain the current tax treatment of like-kind exchanges, and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., that would prevent tax increases on those making less than $400K a year. Although these amendment votes are non-binding, it puts Democrats on the record and shows how difficult it could be to obtain yes votes from all Senate Democrats for the tax increases proposed by President Biden and other top Democrats in Congress. The Democrats’ budget resolution calls for $1.75 trillion or more in higher taxes over the next 10 years.
Additionally, a key vote for Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement on his vote to move the budget process forward, expressing serious concerns about the proposals price tag and impact on the future of the U.S. economy, stating in part, “I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion.” Manchin’s statement shows the tough path ahead for this reconciliation package, as it will need his support along with all Democrats to pass the Senate. You can view his full statement here.
Reports have also indicated that Democrats will seek to insert harmful labor provisions in the reconciliation package, which could include exempting union dues from taxes and monetary penalties for employers that interfere with workers’ union rights. Democrats might also look to include new requirements that would make it harder for workers to qualify as independent contractors and additional financial support for striking workers. The provisions would need to pass the scrutiny of the budget reconciliation Byrd Rule that prevents extraneous measures from passing through the reconciliation process, though Democrats believe the employer penalties and tax provision should be deemed germane to the federal budget. ABC will continue to provide critical information on the progress of the reconciliation package over the next weeks and months.
House Cuts Recess Short:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer informed House members yesterday that they would be returning from recess early on Aug. 23, the House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 20, but are now planning to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution in August along with H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Democrats could consider additional legislation but it does not appear to be taking up the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that just passed the Senate, until the Senate also passes a reconciliation package later this fall.
Democrats Discharge S. 1, Federal Takeover of Elections Law:
Additionally this morning, Democrats passed the Motion to Discharge the ABC-opposed, so-called “For the People Act” (S.1) from the Rules Committee by a vote of 50-49. The bill is now discharged from committee to the full Senate, though it would still require 60 votes to pass the Senate. Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forced a vote on the motion to proceed to S. 1, which ABC KEY VOTED against and which failed to gain the 60 votes needed.
ABC Requesting Feedback on Issues Affecting Federal Contractors
Today, ABC member contractors received a survey link to gather feedback on various executive actions and proposed rulemakings from the Biden administration that affect federal contractors and the federal procurement process. These issues include government-mandated project labor agreements, local hire requirements, prevailing wage requirements, a proposed increase to the minimum wage of federal contractors, COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for on-site federal contractors and more.
We are asking federal contractor members to provide their thoughts on these issues so that ABC can use these insights to respond to various rulemakings and to provide feedback on other executive actions affecting federal contractors. We are asking members to respond to this survey by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 16.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) Announces Retirement:
Yesterday, long-time Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) announced that he will not seek a 14th term in the U.S. House of Representatives next year , telling reporters, "I've run out of gas" after 13 terms in office. It is still unclear if Rep. Kind will now seek a statewide bid, by entering the already crowded democratic primary to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson in 2022, although that seems unlikely at this point. Rep. Kind’s retirement, however, is certainly a boon for House Republicans chances to regain the House majority in 2022.
The move opens one of only seven US House seats that voted for ex-President Trump (51.5 - 46.8%) in 2020 while electing a Democrat to the House, thus giving Republicans a chance to convert a key district. Derrick Van Orden (R), the retired Navy SEAL who held Rep. Kind to a 51-49% win last year, is again running and raised over $750,000 for his campaign since the year began. Rep. Kind had won reelection in 2018 by nearly 20 points.
Because the 3rd District lies in the southwestern corner of the state, it is not expected to change much in redistricting. Therefore, we can expect a highly competitive open seat battle here next year. There are now 16 open seats for the 2022 election cycle, not including the three in special elections this year. Of the 16, eight come from each party.
New York Governor Cuomo (D) to Resign:
On Tuesday, Andrew Cuomo (D) announced his resignation as Governor of New York. The resignation follows the release of NY state Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) investigation that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo’s resignation will take effect in two weeks.
This means that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will ascend to the Governorship and be eligible to run for a full term in 2022. Whether she receives Democratic primary opposition is difficult to project at this point, but the chance of a contested primary forming looms large. Regardless of that outcome, however, when Hochul is sworn in, she will become the first woman in history to occupy New York State’s top office.
Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) is already the party endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidate; however, the political consensus is that any race without a politically wounded Cuomo as the Democratic nominee will make the victory path much more difficult for Zeldin, the Republican challenger in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican state-wide since former Governor George Pataki’s three terms from 1995-2006.
REMINDER – Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Passes Senate:
Yesterday, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support in a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans joined all 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus to approve the legislation. You can view ABC’s statement on the passage of the bill and section by section summary.
You may also view ABC’s priorities and wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House.