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Legislative Affairs

August 5, 2022

Next Stages of the Appropriations Process & the 2022 Election Cycle

Key Dates
October 1, 2022 (Fiscal Year 2023 Begins): 57 days
November 8, 2022 (Election Day): 95 days
November 9, 2022 (Senate Returns for “Lame Duck” Session): 96 days
November 14, 2022 (House Returns for “Lame Duck” Session): 101 days
December 15, 2022 (Target Adjournment of 117th Congress): 130 days

The major, salient news of the week is that the Senate is planning to move on reconciliation. You can find WSW’s full write-up from Wednesday here. Last night, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) which “removes the carried interest tax provision, protects advanced manufacturing, and boosts our clean energy economy.” To raise revenue, it adds a provision taxing stock buy-backs. The Senate is expected to convene sometime Saturday to vote on the motion to proceed, kicking off a vote-a-rama that will spill into early next week. Timing on a House vote remains unclear.

On the FY23 Appropriations front, there are a few items to consider, courtesy of WSW Principal Nancy Fox:

  • Appropriations Topline Funding Number Elusive: Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on a top-line number for the FY23 defense and nondefense funding levels for the annual appropriations bills. As we have previously reported, the Senate published their FY23 appropriations bills in July, bypassing the Committee review process. For its part in July, the House passed six of twelve FY23 Appropriations bills ahead of the August district work period. Without a bipartisan funding agreement, it is doubtful the bills as written will become law, but will instead serve as a starting point for future negotiations.
  • Appropriations Continuing Resolution Outlook: Stop Gap Measure to Fund the Government Expected: When Congress returns from a month-long district work period in September, there will only be a handful of legislative days until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. With so few days to complete work on all twelve annual appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year, a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels will be needed. There is speculation a CR could run through the November election.
  • COVID Supplemental: In the last week of July, three top Senate Democrats, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Patty Murray, and Senator Chris Coons introduced a $21 billion emergency COVID supplemental bill. For months, the Biden Administration has asked Congress for additional COVID funds, but legislation continues to stall in Congress. The COVID emergency supplemental discussion will pick up again in September.
  • Some Additional Summer Reading on the Appropriations Process:
    • Roll Call: “Senate Democrats make their move on fiscal 2023 appropriations” – Full Article
    • Military Times: “Nearly 9% boost for defense spending next year under new Senate plan” – Full Article
    • Washington Post: “Democrats seek $21 billion to fight coronavirus and other outbreaks” – Full Article

WSW Partner Carl Chidlow also provides this look at the current state of play outside of the Capitol, as campaigns across the country work aggressively to make sure their candidate of choice wins in November:

“What’s the Matter with Kansas?” is a social commentary written by journalist and historian Thomas Franks, first published in 2004. Franks is a native son of the Sunflower State and was drawn home to focus on the political evolution of his birthplace. It is a significant early analysis of the fragmentation of our national politics along social issues, such as abortion.

Events this week resulted in me taking another look at this book. On Tuesday, voters in deep-red Kansas voted against a ballot initiative which would have amended their state’s Constitution and allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to restrict abortion rights – and it wasn’t even close. Nearly 60% of voters rejected this effort. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe vs. Wade decision, it is now up to the individual states to determine access to reproductive health care. Kansas just happened to be the first state to put this issue before the voters.

So why is this vote important?

For the last several months, Democrats have been bracing for what, by all accounts, could be a very rough midterm election. President Biden has been suffering from low polling numbers, dragged down by several factors: inflationary pressures leading to fears of recession; the war in Ukraine; continued supply chain shortages; and other post-pandemic challenges. Under normal historic circumstances, Democratic candidates should be running scared – and they are.

But a lot has happened over the last few days of July and early August. Democrats have revived their hopes for another major legislative victory, as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has finally agreed to a historic package which could strengthen the Affordable Care Act, allow the government to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, and make major strides on environmental tax credits and investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy production. We shared a dispatch on the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” on Wednesday, which you can find .

Biden was even able to talk tough, although sequestered by a COVID relapse, and take credit for the elimination of one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. Gas prices have been falling in recent weeks and fears of a full-blown recession appear to be fading.

But midterm elections are always driven by voter enthusiasm. Democrats (and like-minded moderates) may have some reason for optimism. I wouldn’t have thought so two weeks ago. But this recent vote in Kansas is an eye opener.

Having recently re-read “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” it is probably the last place I would have thought of, as being a harbinger of Democratic national outcomes. But they have soundly sent a message, and the normal rules may not apply this November. WSW’s most recent political report, looking at what the 118th Congress might hold, can be found here.

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