October 1, 2022 (Fiscal Year 2023 Begins): 43 days
November 8, 2022 (Election Day): 81 days
November 9, 2022 (Senate Returns for “Lame Duck” Session): 82 days
November 14, 2022 (House Returns for “Lame Duck” Session): 87 days
December 15, 2022 (Target Adjournment of 117th Congress): 116 days
For federal regulators at Executive Branch agencies, the moment Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (aka, the reconciliation bill) on Tuesday, the starting gun for a race to write new policies to implement its clean energy tax credits, climate programs, environmental mandates, and healthcare policies began. It’s a monumental task that will involve stakeholders at nearly every federal agency.
- The Department of Transportation must fashion a new grant program to propel sustainable aviation fuel projects;
- The Department of Energy will need to vet applications for billions of dollars’ worth of federal loan guarantees;
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must create new programs to curb methane emissions and standardize how companies report on greenhouse gas releases. The EPA also has 180 days to steer $27 billion in a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to green banks that can catalyze critical emission-fighting technology. Recipients could include a yet-to-be established national green bank; and
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs to develop plans to spend the $80 billion allocated for enhanced tax enforcement to find the revenue to fund these programs and pursue deficit reduction.
The stakes are incredibly high as massive amounts of private investment hangs in the balance. Much of it is tethered to policies that will be written by the IRS, which must develop new guidance for dozens of new and expanded tax credits. Bloomberg has also reported that some companies lured by those tax incentives — but wary of mistakes that could forfeit them — will be waiting for the IRS documents before signing off on new renewable power ventures, manufacturing plants, and hydrogen projects. One thing companies will want clarity on is how they can satisfy prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements to secure the full value of some clean energy tax credits. The law allows projects to get an exemption from those criteria as long as they begin construction within 60 days of the guidance being issued.
President Biden’s Medicare chief, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, is pledging to meet critical deadlines for implementing the policies in Democrats’ spending package aimed at lowering seniors’ drug costs. Biden’s official green light lets hiring and contracting begin as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is planning to bring on more staff, particularly to help out with efforts around letting Medicare negotiate the price of drugs for the first time and extending enhanced Obamacare subsidies for another three years. The CMS strategy is based lessons learned from ACA implementation.
The federal agencies are working on a tight timetable, seeking to propose and finalize new rules well before the end of Biden’s first term. If Biden isn’t reelected, regulations that don’t get finished under his watch will fall to his successor, who may not be eager to impose aggressive emissions and efficiency requirements. Even if work wraps up quickly, legal challenges are inevitable for most major environmental rules on the horizon, and a future administration may abandon defending them in court.
As we look to the rest of the year, a full list of upcoming Congressional fiscal policy deadlines can be found here.
Additional Summer Reading
- “Tech industry’s critical policy issues likely tabled as Congress heads for recess,” CNBC – Full Article
- “Republican Prospects for Midterm Pickups Dim Amid Democratic Wins,” US News and World Report – Full Article
- Forecasts for 2022 Elections: