What’s on the agenda for Congress in 2022

Democrats, who control the White House and hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate, are under growing pressure to deliver on promises to voters. The clock is ticking as the 2022 midterm elections approach when the balance of power could change and the party’s opportunity to take action could slip away.
But Democrats face major obstacles to implementing their agenda, particularly in the Senate where party control is split 50-50 and Democrats need every single member of their caucus to be unified if they want to pass legislation without Republican votes under a process known as reconciliation.
Democrats and Republicans will confront a government funding deadline in mid-February and will need to pass legislation before funding expires. This comes after Congress acted in December to narrowly avoid a shutdown by passing a stopgap bill to extend funding through February 18.

Democrats will try to pick up the pieces on the Build Back Better Act

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a key swing vote, dealt his party a major blow when he announced in late December that he was a “no” on the Build Back Better Act, legislation championed by President Joe Biden to expand the social safety net and fight the climate crisis.

Now, Democratic leaders have to figure out what happens next. They are vowing not to give up, but it’s not yet clear what Democrats might be able to accomplish.

Biden has said that he still thinks “there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done” and has insisted that he and Manchin will “get something” finished after the West Virginia moderate undercut the President’s agenda. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Democrats “will not let this opportunity pass.”

Economists question validity of Manchin's inflation fears on Build Back Better

Democratic leaders plan to keep the pressure on. In the wake of Manchin’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated to his caucus that he plans to push ahead with a vote on the legislation that will force Manchin to go on the record on the Senate floor.

“The Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer told members of his caucus in a letter on December 20.

“We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act — and we will keep voting on it until we get something done,” he wrote.

One option Democrats may look at is whether they can try to pass any of the priorities contained within the Build Back Better Act, even if it means advancing them alone or as part of a significantly scaled back version of the legislation.

CNN has reported that Manchin has told colleagues that he would keep talking. But the senator has indicated that he would not quickly get behind a scaled-back version of the plan, arguing that it should instead go through the committee process before trying to move it through the Senate via the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. That position underlines the major hurdles ahead for Democrats if they hope to advance even a narrow version of the legislation.

When asked in a recent interview on Fox News if Democrats are…

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