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What's Ahead in Washington


Stopgap CR Passes House, Senate; Now Awaits President's Signature
The Senate on Friday passed a one-week stopgap funding bill by voice vote to avert a government shutdown at midnight. The bill will next go to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The short-term spending bill would extend government funding by a week to December 18 and is aimed at giving lawmakers more time to reach an agreement on Covid relief and broader funding legislation for a new fiscal year. It passed the House earlier this week.

So far, however, stimulus talks remain at an impasse over critical sticking points, creating uncertainty over whether an agreement can be reached.  Lawmakers now have just one additional week to work out thorny issues that are currently holding up an agreement or potentially witness the collapse of the talks.

Before the Senate voted, Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) both made impassioned pleas for the chamber to take further action to provide pandemic relief ahead of the holidays.

Sanders said that he would withdraw an objection to the stopgap funding bill today to allow the government to remain open, but threatened that he would not do the same next week.
More from CNN
 
 
Defense Bill Passes Senate with Veto-Proof Majority
On Friday, the Senate cleared a $740.5 billion defense policy bill that removes Confederate names from military bases and boosts weapons programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Virginia-class attack submarine. The Senate passed the bill 84-13. Passage sends the bill to President Trump, who has threatened a veto. House lawmakers passed the defense bill 335-78. Trump has demanded it include a provision abolishing a law that protects technology companies from liability over most user-generated content; he also opposes the provision in the measure to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals. The bill cleared both chambers with veto proof majorities.
From Fox News
 
 
33 Tax Extenders Expire This Year-What Next?
The annual scramble to pass temporary tax breaks is underway—but their fate is tied to negotiations on spending and a virus relief package. Extenders are typically packaged with must-pass legislation in order to move through both chambers.

There are 33 tax extenders expiring at the end of the year. Among the industry groups upping the pressure on lawmakers are those representing the wine, beer, and distilled spirits industry and those that support a tax credit for distressed areas known as the New Markets Tax Credit.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of more than 50 senators urged for a permanent extension of the alcoholic beverage credit in a letter last week. And this week, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) are among lawmakers participating in a New Markets Tax Credit Coalition’s conference.
From Bloomberg reports
 
 
Covid Vaccine Clears Advisory Panel, awaits Formal Approval from FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday it was working rapidly to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the green light coming possibly as soon as Friday evening, according to the New York Times. This would also pave the way for Moderna’s vaccine to be approved in the next several days.

The newspaper reported on Friday that the FDA is likely to issue the EUA by Friday evening, citing people familiar with the agency’s planning. It had reported on Thursday night that the FDA would announce the news on Saturday.

Swift clearance of the vaccine was widely expected after a panel of expert advisers to the FDA on Thursday endorsed its emergency use to help stem a pandemic that has killed more than 285,000 people in the United States.

The decision will set the stage for the first Americans to be immunized outside of clinical trials as soon as Monday or Tuesday, with healthcare workers expected to be among the first in line.
More from Reuters
 
 
Azar Sees Vaccine for All Americans by Second Quarter
All Americans who want to get a Covid-19 vaccine should be able to do so by the second quarter of next year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. With the FDA due to approve an emergency authorization for a shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Azar and Moncef Slaoui, the head of the government’s program to accelerate a vaccine, expressed confidence that the FDA would clear the way.
From The Guardian
 
 
House is scheduled to be in session Monday, Dec. 14, 2020
Senate is scheduled to be in session Monday, Dec. 14 through Friday, Dec. 18, 2020



Selected House Committee Hearings:
 
Dec. 17
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
House Committee on Oversight and Reform Hearing:
"The Role of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family in the Opioid Epidemic" (Rescheduled)
 
 
Selected Senate Committee Hearings:
 
Dec. 15
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection (Hybrid) Hearing: "Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Live Event Entertainment Industry."
 
Dec. 16
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Subcommittee On Economic Policy Hearing:
"US-China: Winning the Economic Competition, Part II."
 

Not to be missed


Biofuels Coalition Challenges EPA Exemption Waivers
Attorneys for six farm and biofuel organizations filed papers Monday challenging 31 Small Refinery Exemptions granted by the EPA.  The pro-ethanol coalition says EPA lacked the authority to issue the exemptions and that it acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner. 
The legal briefs represent the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union. 
The biofuels coalition is asking the Court to vacate EPA’s decision to grant thirty-one small refinery exemption petitions for the compliance year 2018 and order EPA to restore the corresponding volumes of renewable fuel in the next compliance year.
From Brownfield Ag News
 
 
Airlines for America Announces Southwest Airline’s Gary Kelly as A4A Chairman
Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, announced Wednesday that the Board of Directors has elected Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly to serve as the Chairman of the Board for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021. Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways, was elected to serve as the Vice Chairman of the association.
"We are excited to have Gary ascending to the Chairman role at the time of such significant challenge for our industry, carriers and employees," said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. "This year has been devastating for U.S. airlines, and we are looking forward to rebuilding the industry and relaunching air travel in the new year under the leadership and vision of both Gary and Robin."
Read more from PRN Newswire

 
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