The House and Senate are both in session this week.
Back to the Future, with BIF: As previously reported, a bipartisan group of 22 Senators came to agreement with the White House on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), after talks on a Republican bill failed. While most details have been worked out over the last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took the initiative and announced that he would file the bill for debate (cloture) as early as this Wednesday. Except, there is one problem – the bill is not finished yet.
Getting to 88 MPH: While the legislative language of the bill itself has yet to be written, the major stumbling block remains how the bill will be paid for. Several Senators, including Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) remain optimistic that the bill will be finished, but not in time for a mid-week vote. Sen. Romney told reporters that the bill could be finished this week, but it would take time to send to colleagues for their review. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has suggested pushing a vote to Monday. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) added, “We’re waiting on a [CBO] score. We don’t have text. So, until we do, I’m not comfortable voting on any procedural motions to move forward.” The bill will need 60 votes to begin debate — Republicans can (and likely will) oppose and buy more time for negotiations.
Flux Capacitor: The main impediment to complete funding for the bill has the IRS bringing in $100 billion through increased enforcement. A problem arises where the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) may not ‘score’ this as a legitimate pay-for. As a result, it leaves a substantial funding shortfall. In addition, House Democrats want a carbon reduction provision, as well as other environmental safeguards, that were left out of the Senate compromise. The journey continues.
Budget: Along with BIF, Congress continues its work on the budget and appropriations. Most of the budget will be passed under budget reconciliation rules, needing only a simple majority in the Senate to pass (in this case, the Vice President would cast a tie-breaking vote. Last Friday, the House completed its annual work on 12 appropriations bills that should be brought for a vote as early as next week. These measures form the basis for government spending and need to be passed by September 30.
Senate battleground: As mentioned here previously, there are currently eight (4 Democratic, 4 Republican) Senate seats that political handicappers are looking at. The Democratic-held seats include Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Maggie Hassan (NH), Mark Kelly (AZ) and Raphael Warnock (GA). The Republican-held seats are comprised of two open contests, Sens. Richard Burr (NC) and Pat Toomey (PA), along with Sens. Ron Johnson (WI) and Marco Rubio (FL). This week, we will look at the other races not previously covered.
The breakdown: While Republicans will be playing more defense this cycle, having to defend 20 of 34 seats that are up for election nationally, 16 of those seats are solidly Republican and (of this writing) are unlikely to be lost. In contrast, Democrats must defend 14 seats, with 10 of those considered to be solidly Democratic.
Arizona: Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a former astronaut, will likely be a top Republican target in 2022. Sen. Kelly is serving the remaining two years of the term that the late Sen John McCain (R-AZ) was elected to in 2016. After his death, former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) was appointed and served the next two years of the term, until his resignation and the appointment of former Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ). Former Sen. McSally was challenged in the special election by now-Sen. Kelly in 2020, losing 51-49. Republicans should have a competitive primary to find their nominee with current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, former USAF and adjutant general Michael McGuire, solar power executive Jim Lamon and Theil Capital COO Blake Masters all having announced their candidacies for the seat.
Georgia: Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) will also find himself in a similar situation, having won a Senate seat in a special election from a Republican appointee. Sen. Warnock defeated former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (who was appointed to serve the remainder of retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s [R-GA] term), 51-49, in one of the most expensive races in history – with Sen. Warnock raising $138 million for his campaign. The historic victory essentially handed control of the Senate to Democrats. In 2022, Sen. Warnock’s seat will again be a priority for Republicans with former Sen. Loeffler considering a rematch. State Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black, Atlanta construction executive and Air Force veteran Kelvin King and banking executive/former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler have all announced their candidacies. Legendary football star Herschel Walker has also looked at running and has the support of former President Trump. This race, along with the re-election effort of Governor Brian Kemp, will put Georgia back at the epicenter of American politics in 2022.
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has drawn a serious challenger in Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). Rep. Demings is the former Orlando Police Chief and served as a House impeachment manager last year. Her campaign reportedly raised $1 million in the first 24 hours after her announcement — for a total of $4.6 million in the first 21 days of her campaign. While Rep. Demings will continue to rise as a national figure for the Democrats, Sen. Rubio will be tough to beat – Florida Republicans have won every statewide contest (except one) over the last ten years. Sen. Rubio raised $4 million in Q2, blowing away the $1.6 million he raised in the first quarter. This race will be expensive, as well as intense. Enjoy the show.
Special elections: The next elections for vacant House seats are — Previously Democratic-held: Ohio’s 11th (Primary - 8/3; General -11/2) and Florida’s 20th (1/11/22). Previously Republican-held: Texas’ 6th District (Special Election Runoff – 7/27) and Ohio’s 15th (Primary - 8/3; General - 11/2). The House now has composition of 220 Democrats to 211 Republicans.
State legislation tracking
Please visit ASA's web-based state legislative tracker here.
State legislative action:
AB 100 Update: On July 7th, the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee passed AB 100 (with author’s amendments) unanimously, a bill that regulates the manufacture and sale of endpoint fixtures that conform to the NSF 61 2020 standard. ASA, along with its coalition partners, has obtained a compromise on the bill. This compromise, which has received the initial approval of the bill author (Assembly member Chris Holden) and the California Senate Environmental Quality (EQ) Committee, will go a long way to accommodate our members in the transition to providing endpoint fixtures with significantly reduced lead content. The Senate Appropriations Committee will review the bill in late summer.
As written, the compromise amendments specify:
- Require, on January 1, 2022, all NSF 61 2020 compliant products will be labeled according to the standard itself, with the mark ‘NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Q<1’ (Labeling Requirement);
- Require, on January 1, 2023, all endpoint products manufactured on or after this date, be certified to the NSF 61 2020 standard (Manufacture Date); and
- Require, on July 1, 2023, that all endpoint products available for sale be certified to the NSF 61 2020 standard (Sell-by Date).
This is a very positive development that removes California-specific labeling, provides another year for manufacturers to get compliant products into the supply chain and gives our wholesalers/distributors an additional six months to sell product that does not comply with NSF 61 2020, to clear their inventories.