Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
January 11, 2022

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is expected to lay out a plan as soon as this evening on what Democrats are planning to do with voting rights legislation and the anticipated filibuster fight, as President Joe Biden spends the day in Georgia today.  President Biden will endorse changing Senate rules to pass new voting rights protections during a speech in Atlanta, the most significant step he will have taken to pressure lawmakers to act on an issue he has called the biggest test of America’s democracy since the Civil War.  Democrats haven’t yet settled on what that proposal would look like and are floating several ideas including moving to a talking filibuster that would let opponents delay a bill for as long as they could hold the floor, but the bill would be able to pass by a simple majority.  Another idea would be to create a “carve out” that would exempt voting rights from the filibuster.  They are also looking at smaller ideas including getting rid of the 60-vote hurdle currently required to start debate or shifting from needing 60 votes to break a filibuster to needing 41 votes to sustain it.  While negotiations continue, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) vowed on Tuesday that Republicans would retaliate if Democrats change the legislative filibuster, threatening to jam up the chamber and cause major headaches.  McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, argued that changing the requirement that most legislation needs 60 votes to advance would “silence the voices of millions and millions of Americans” represented by Republican senators and warned that Republicans would be more than willing to block routine Senate housekeeping agreements, making it more painful for Democrats to accomplish day-to-day steps like setting the schedule or allowing committee meetings, essentially grinding the Senate to a halt.

For today, the Senate convened at 11:00 A.M. and is considering the nominations Alan Davidson to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Amitabha Bose to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.  At 10 A.M. the Senate Banking Committee began a hearing on the nomination of Jerome Powell to be the Federal Reserve chair.  Powell TESTIMONY.  Powell told Senators he was prepared to begin raising interest rates to cool down the economy but that he also was optimistic that supply-chain bottlenecks would ease this year to help bring down inflation.  Mr. Powell, a Republican, is expected to win a second term leading the central bank but was pressed during the hearing over how the central bank will tighten policy to combat inflation, which is running near its highest annual levels in four decades.

The House met at 10:00 A.M. and is considering, H.Res. 860 – The Rule Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1836 – Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 and H.R. 4672 – EVEST Act.  The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 would expand eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill educational assistance.  Specifically, the bill adjusts the type of service that entitles a member of the Armed Forces, reserves, or National Guard to such assistance.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.