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NCA’s Washington Weekly Update 9-20-21

Situational Awareness
The House is in session this week to consider a roadmap for the budget resolution, infrastructure and voting rights The The House of Representatives and Senate are both in session this week and there is a lot riding on the next two weeks. The House convenes to consider as many as 15 bills on the suspension calendar. Democratic leadership has signaled that the House will vote this week on a continuing resolution to fund the government and lifting the debt ceiling to avoid defaulting on the federal debt. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has indicated he will bring a revamped voter rights bill to the floor for a procedural vote this week while waiting for the House to deliver on the debt ceiling and continuing resolution.

It’s a Legislative Demolition Derby!
Presuming Democratic leaders can find a way to avoid crashing on the continuing resolution and raising the debt ceiling in the next two weeks, they still face what is shaping up to be a demolition derby over the reconciliation and infrastructure packages with pockets of caucus members lining up opposite each other on a number of items—each with enough votes to crash both legislative vehicles. With only four votes in the House to spare, progressives and moderates within the Democratic Caucus have been making demands for changes in the reconciliation bill and threatening to vote against the measure if those demands are not met. In addition to the demands within the reconciliation bill are promises made to moderates to consider the infrastructure package next week, while progressives want to wait until the reconciliation bill has passed in an attempt to hold on to leverage over more moderate members of their caucus. President Biden has been meeting with leadership to chart a course for passage of both measures, which are the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. More specifics on the reconciliation package follow.

NCA and Allies Pushing for Additional H-2B Visas
The National Club Association and the H-2B coalition have been urging members of the House Appropriations Committee to address the cap on the number of visas available through the program within the annual appropriations process or any other suitable legislation. If you have not already done so, please reach out to your member of Congress and senators to encourage them to make additional visas available to avoid disruption in business operations. You can contact your representative by clicking here.

OSHA Continues Work on Vaccine or Testing Mandate
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues its work to implement a new emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing as a condition of employment. OSHA had begun work on the ETS a week before President Biden’s announcement, but rules of this magnitude stretching across all employment sectors was bound to take several weeks, if not months, to draft. Adding to the urgency is a need for the agency to draft a rule that will stand up to certain legal challenges. Last week, 24 state attorneys general sent a letter to President Biden in opposition to the mandate going so far as to say that it was illegal on several grounds. The letter concludes with a vow to use all legal recourse available to challenge the rule. You can read the letter here.

Notable Provisions in Reconciliation
NCA has been tracking the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package for any provisions that may directly or indirectly affect the club community. Sections of the bill have been marked up by 13 separate committees and each of those sections will be cobbled together when the House Rules Committee meets to draft a rule for the full House of Representatives to consider the package in the weeks ahead. The bill is likely to be several thousand pages long once merged and some key items are listed below.

  • Raise top income tax rate to 39.6% from 37% for individuals making $400,000 and joint filers making $450,000
  • 3% surtax on those with adjusted gross incomes of greater than $5 million
  • Increase capital gains rates from 20% to 25% for high-income earners
  • Repeal flat 21% corporate tax rate and replace with graduated rates topping out at 26.5% for income over $5 million
  • Increase tobacco tax on cigarettes, small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco
  • $78.9 billion for the Internal Revenue Service to increase audits on wealthy
  • Allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate drug prices
  • Medicare coverage for dental, vision and hearing
  • 12 weeks paid leave for birth or adoption, personal health condition, caregiving, deployment and bereavement beginning July 2023
  • Require employers with more than 5 employees to automatically enroll new hires for retirement benefits—imposes $10 a day tax for each uncovered employee
  • Cap childcare costs at a maximum of 7% of family income
  • Increased penalties for employers who violate labor laws
  • $3 billion for flood mapping
  • Immigration provisions—subject to parliamentarian ruling on new proposals mentioned above

Although the committees have so far adopted the changes listed, as noted in the first story above, there is still quite a bit of wrangling going on in order to secure votes to pass the measure in the House. As such, leadership may make modifications to any and all provisions prior to the Rules Committee consideration of the package. If or when the House passes the reconciliation package and sends it to the Senate, it is very likely the Senate will amend the House-passed bill and send it back to the House for consideration again. If upon reading this you are left with the impression that this will take some time and much is yet uncertain, you would be correct.

Coronavirus Town Hall: New Vaccine Mandates – The Medical and Economic Outlook
NCA will be hosting a webcast on September 21 at 2:00 p.m. EDT to discuss the latest actions and state of the pandemic. The panel will consist of myself to provide a brief update on federal action and policy, Dr. Amesh Adalja with Johns Hopkins to provide a medical perspective and Curtis Dubay with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to provide insight on the current state of the economy relative to the continuing effects of the virus. Register here.