Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
NCSD Policy Staff
January 7, 2022
This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he thinks an omnibus appropriations funding deal is possible before the current CR expires on February 18, 2022, but only if Democrats agree to not make any major changes to the bills’ policy riders and provide funding parity between defense and domestic discretionary programs. Senator McConnell stated to the extent that Democrats are willing to meet those conditions, then he thinks there is a chance of getting an omnibus bill completed before the current CR expires.
Reconciliation/Build Better Back
The negotiations on the BBB are stalled as Democrats turn to a voting rights bill and an expected vote on a change to the filibuster rules if Republican’s continue to block consideration of the legislation.
Senator Manchin remains concerned about the overall cost of the BBB, the spread of COVID-19 and geopolitical unrest. He also reiterated his opposition to an expanded child tax credit that offers payments to people who aren’t working. Manchin stated “I think there should be a work requirement.” Manchin further suggested he might be open to future talks on some of the President’s proposals, and signaled that he could agree to certain clean energy tax credits aimed at combating climate change, so long as his concerns about clean fossil fuel technology and the promotion of nuclear energy are met. “I think the climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement on.”
Other Legislation and Happenings Around the Nation
California has become the first state to require health insurance plans to cover at-home tests for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, chlamydia, and syphilis — which could help quell the STI epidemic that has raged nearly unchecked as public health departments have focused on COVID-19. The rule, part of a broader law addressing the STI epidemic, took effect on January 1, for people with state-regulated private insurance plans and will take effect sometime later for the millions of low-income Californians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.
The number of new COVID-19 cases more than tripled over the past two weeks, shattering records all across the U.S. with an average positivity rate of 550,000 new cases per day, a 225% increase. The surge is by far the highest levels of the entire pandemic.
On January 4, 2022, the CDC announced that adolescents 12-17 should receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot five months after their initial series of immunizations. CDC Director Dr. Walensky stated that “this booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant and I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”
The Biden administration said it has no plans to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” against the coronavirus to include getting a booster shot. “Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’ve received their primary series, that definition is not changing,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
On January 3, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released updated guidance that requires health care facilities in 25 states and the District of Columbia, that are not affected by legal stays, to have staff fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Feb. 28. The order is stayed in 25 states that have challenged the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers. The Supreme Court said it will hold a special session on January 7 to review legal challenges to the administration’s vaccine mandates — one for large employers and the other for health care employees. The court has upheld state vaccine mandates, but these cases are different because they consider whether Congress has given the executive branch the authority to institute vaccine requirements.