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NCA’s Washington Weekly Update 9-27-21

Situational Awareness
The House and Senate are both in session this week. The Senate is expected to take up several nominations, as well as the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) and debt limit bill passed last week, but with little Republican support it is destined to fail. The House has an ambitious schedule aiming to clear the bipartisan infrastructure package, reconciliation and a CR this week. See more below.

Speaker Pelosi Goes All In This Week

Over the weekend, Speaker Pelosi circulated a letter to her colleagues committing the House to passing a routine CR and two major pieces of legislation to advance President Biden’s economic agenda. Having served in leadership roles in the past and worked in Washington for more than 25 years, this is about as big a gamble you will see leadership attempt in one week. While a CR can get bogged down in funding anomalies, things generally get concentrated on the basics and passage is nearly certain. The infrastructure package and reconciliation bill are two ends of a tug-of-war between Democratic moderates and progressives, each with the votes to take either measure down.

The infrastructure bill passed the Senate last month with more than half of the Republican Conference supporting the measure and simply needs an up or down vote in the House in order for it to be sent to Biden for signature. Republican leadership in the House are attempting to concentrate the pressure on Democrats by forcing them to pass the measure without Republican votes, but I’ve heard reports that Republican members are finding it difficult to justify a no vote on political grounds alone given the importance of infrastructure issues in their districts. This is important because as many as 40 progressives in the House are pushing for the reconciliation bill to be passed in both chambers prior to the infrastructure bill advancing, but the Speaker promised moderates a vote on the bill this week in exchange for their support on the budget resolution that paved the way for drafting of the reconciliation package.

On the $3.5 trillion reconciliation side, the calculus is even more complicated. The wide-sweeping legislation touches on nearly all aspects of the federal budget and social programs, which, in addition to the overall cost, has raised concerns among the moderate factions of the Democratic party in both the House and Senate. Although the infrastructure package has already passed the Senate, Democratic leadership is trying to accommodate not only the moderate and progressive wings within the House, but also attempting to write a bill that will pass the Senate with only Democratic votes. This is no small feat considering House leaders can only lose four votes in the House and none in the evenly-divided Senate.

As noted above, the Senate will consider a procedural vote on the bill containing the CR and debt limit provisions, but it is certain to fail to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to pass. Once that vote has concluded, leaders will pivot to a standalone CR, which if devoid of extraneous provisions, Republicans in both chambers have indicated they would support. A CR needs to be passed by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday in order to avoid a government shutdown. However, since it occurs over a weekend, any impact would not likely be felt until next week.

OSHA Declines Comment on Vaccine ETS
In response to several requests from business groups, including the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS), of which NCA is a partner, to allow for a comment period prior to publication of an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on President Biden’s order to require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for COVID-19, OSHA simply stated that “the urgency of the rulemaking means OSHA will not have time to process comments or questions prior to issuing the ETS.” As noted in previous Washington Weekly Updates, the ETS is very likely to face litigation immediately after it is issued and it is conceivable the federal court could issue an injunction to prevent the rule from going into effect until legal questions are resolved.

On a related note, on Friday the White House approved new guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors that would require them to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021. Companies would also be required to enforce social distancing and masking rules.

Team USA Dominates Ryder Cup

On Sunday, USA Captain Steve Stricker led his players to a historic victory over Team Europe in the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. The U.S. led from wire-to-wire never giving the Europeans an opportunity to gain momentum in any format. Sunday’s dominance in singles play clinched the cup with a score of 19-9, a new record surpassing the highest total in the modern era of 18.5 in 1979. The U.S. now leads the competition with 26 wins to Europe’s 14. The next Ryder Cup will be played at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy, in 2023 and returns to the U.S. at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., in 2025. Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were winners of the inaugural Nicklaus Jacklin Award as players who embody the spirit of the 1969 concession when Jack Nicklaus conceded a two-foot put to Tony Jacklin to halve their match resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Sunday’s matches with NCA members Michael Funaro of NBC Sports Next and Ryan Doerr of Strategic Club Solutions. The electricity in the air was palpable well before the first match began. While we walked the grounds, I was astounded by the topography, which reminded me more of LaHinch in Ireland with shades of the Old Course in St. Andrews than a course built in Wisconsin just 23 years ago. The television coverage from Friday and Saturday were transformed immediately upon arriving to witness more than 1,000 bunkers, sandy dunes, steep inclines with slippery fescue, the steady breeze, the lure of Lake Michigan, rolling fairways and dramatically undulating greens—all impossible to convey on even the largest screen. For anyone who loves the game of golf, its origins and history, Whistling Straits captures both the imagination and the senses.