WASHINGTON — While members of Congress enjoyed the July 4 holiday with parades and picnics, lawmakers in particular the Senate are getting ready for major conflicts next week.
Senate Democrats hope to vote on a reconciliation bill that includes some provisions from the Build Back Better bill, which was stalled by the lack of support from Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Reconciliation bills, unlike other Senate legislation are not subject to filibuster. They can be approved by 50 Senate votes (with Vice President Kamala Harris’s vote making it 51). Senate Democrats used reconciliation to approve the Affordable Care Act 2010 in 2010.
The “Build Back Manchin” bill, which has been supported by the senator, is the latest attempt at reconciliation. It would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs prices, potentially driving down some seniors’ prescriptions, and cap Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket expenses at $2,000 per annum.
Senate Democrats are still negotiating other aspects of Build Back better, including those relating to tax reform and climate change.
The prospect of a smaller Build Back Better bill has angered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who threatened to block a top priority for Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), which is a bill that aims at increasing U.S. high tech research and manufacturing.
Expect a lot of fighting and a standoff. Although Democrats can pass certain legislation through reconciliation rules, it is restricted to specific tax, spending, and debt limit issues. The Supreme Court has overturned Roe last month. There are new calls for an end of the Senate filibuster. This requires 60 votes to pass, so Democrats can pass a bill codifying the rights to abortion.
The Supreme Court’s decision has also caused President Joe Biden, to abandon his objections to Senate efforts to eliminate the filibuster. At least in a limited manner to codify abortion rights as well as protect privacy concerns that the president claimed were related to other privacy issues.
Senator Tina Smith, D.Minn. supports the elimination of filibuster in all legislation. The issue is also being addressed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who serves as chair of the Senate Rules Committee.
Klobuchar big-tech bill still pending
Klobuchar’s American Innovation and Choice Online Act is another bill that is pending in the Senate’s election-shortened window for business. This would end the practice by Google, Facebook and other large-tech companies to use their platforms to give preference their products.
Klobuchar would see the bill as a turning point in his Senate career. However, it has been attacked by tech giants across the country who want to undermine its bipartisan support. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January with a vote of 16-6. This made it “the first major bill on technology-related competition to reach the Senate floor since the advent of the Internet.”
Keep checking for the date that this bill will be brought up on the Senate floor.
Congress was not in session this week. However, the U.S. House’s January 6 special committee continued its work. Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was subpoenaed. He agreed to testify behind closed door to the House Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year.
Cipollone is a key witness to the activities of President Donald Trump and his aides before and during the Jan. 6, insurrection. He was willing to take part in a video-recorded and transcribed interview.
“The investigation by the select committee has shown that Mr. Cipollone raised legal and other concerns regarding President Trump’s actions on Jan. 6th, and the days preceding,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thomson, D-Miss. stated in a statement last Wednesday when he announced the subpoena.
The Jan. 6 rebellion was intended to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral victory.
Finstad an NRCC Young Gun’, but only for the special election
Currently, the National Republican Congressional Committee, led by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-6 th District), has designated the GOP candidate in the special election for Minnesota’s 1 st district as a “Young Gun”, at least temporarily.
The NRCC’s Young Gun program recognizes candidates who are best able flip a Democratic seat, or win an open seat. The NRCC has designated Republican Brad Finstad, who is running against Democrat Jeffrey Ettinger, a Young Gun.
Finstad, Ettinger will compete to fill the unfinished term of Rep. Jim Hagedorn who died in February. However, the NRCC has limited its endorsement of Finstad’s candidacy to the Aug. 9 special elections.
This is because Finstad and two other Republicans are running for the two-year term. The NRCC generally does not endorse any Republican in a primary. Jeremy Munson, Matt Benda and Matt Benda are the Republicans who will be challenging Finstad in this primary. They filed for the race shortly after he said he had told election officials to remove his name from the ballot.
The primary and the special elections will both be held simultaneously on Aug. 9, to make things even more confusing
It doesn’t matter. Finstad was elevated to Young Gun status, giving him access to campaign support and NRCC campaign donations. This will prove useful in both elections. The Federal Elections Commission will soon release the latest reports from all congressional candidates. They will determine how much campaign money Finstad has received from the NRCC.