Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
December 17, 2021

The Senate will end the year without action on President Joe Biden’s cornerstone economic policy priority or the voting rights overhaul that Senate Democrats were eyeing for an end-of-year push.  The recognition of this reality comes after President Joe Biden’s talks with holdout Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) faltered this week and the Senate Parliamentarian dealt a blow to the package with a ruling against a third attempt to include immigration protections in the social spending measure.  Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough rejected the third and most recent plan from Democrats for including immigration reform in the Build Back Better bill, telling senators that it doesn’t meet the rules for what can be included in a budget measure bypassing the Senate’s filibuster.  The guidance is the latest setback for Democrats’ hopes of including immigration reform in the spending bill. MacDonough had previously rejected two plans from Democrats that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants.  It came as President Biden issued a lengthy statement noting that he had so far failed to reach agreement with Senator Manchin a crucial Democratic holdout, on the broader package, and foreshadowing a rocky, and potentially lengthy, road ahead to shepherd the bill into law.

Friday is expected to be the Senate’s last day in session for 2021 and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is working on a deal with Senate conservatives to move a batch of President Biden’s stalled nominees before the weekend.  Leader Schumer has teed up votes on 22 nominations starting this morning that includes ambassador nominees, USAID positions, and federal judgeships.  Of note, the Senate confirmed President Biden’s 40th federal judicial nominee early on Saturday morning, the most judges confirmed in a president’s first year in the last 40 years.  In the pre-dawn mad dash before leaving Washington for the holidays, lawmakers confirmed 10 district court judges, bringing the year-end total to 40 and notching an achievement not seen since former President Ronald Reagan. It underscored how the White House has set a rapid pace in filling vacancies on the federal bench, even besting the records set by the Trump administration, which maintained a laser focus on reshaping the judiciary.

The House will reconvene for the 2nd Session of the 117th Congress on Monday, January 10, 2022.

The Senate will next convene on Monday, January 3, 2022.

Washington, D.C. Daily Update will resume publication on Monday, January 10th, 2022.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, DC