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What's Ahead in Washington

Leadership Staff Meet on Omnibus, Virus Aid
Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin says Republican officials talked Friday morning to come up with a plan to approach Democrats about getting help to those who need it. Meanwhile, staff from the offices of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) met Thursday to discuss an omnibus spending package. The talks on the spending plan are on a separate track from stalled negotiations on a Covid-19 relief bill, but during the meeting, the staff members discussed assistance measures tied to coronavirus relief, a senior Democratic aide said without giving details. A House Republican aide said that expiring programs related to the pandemic such as extended unemployment insurance and the Paycheck Protection Program were on the agenda, along with other expiring government programs.
From ABC News
IRS Blasted for PPP Loans Tax Break Caps
The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee said the Treasury Department “missed the mark” in its new guidance that limits tax breaks for businesses that get their Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven. In a joint statement yesterday, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) said Treasury is depriving small businesses of much-needed economic relief by forcing them to choose between getting their loans forgiven or claiming write-offs on expenses they covered with the loan.
From The Hill
Tech-Shield May Be Added to Defense Authorization Bill;
House & Senate in Stand-Off over Confederate Base Names
The Trump administration is weighing using the annual national defense authorization bill to make sweeping changes to legal protections for social media companies. Such a move, suggested in exchange for dropping a veto threat over removing Confederate generals’ names from military bases, is facing opposition from one of the top negotiators on the measure, House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA).
The U.S. Congress may fail to pass an annual defense policy bill because Senate Republican leaders won’t accept provisions that require removing Confederate generals’ names from military bases, according to the House Armed Services Committee chairman.
House and Senate are negotiating a conference report for the fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill, which is considered must-pass legislation in part because it authorizes pay for troops in harm’s way.
Smith told reporters Friday that House conferees are pressing for the final bill to include the Senate’s provisions (S. 4049) to scrap Confederate names from military bases, not the language in the House bill (H.R. 6395).
President Trump threatened a veto of the defense bill over the name changes and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he promised the president the language wouldn’t be in final bill.
Each chamber passed its defense authorization bill with a veto-proof majority; Senate vote was 86-14, House vote was 295 – 125. When asked whether he’s concerned Congress won’t finish defense authorization bill, Smith said “absolutely.” This would be the first time in 60 years Congress hasn’t passed a defense authorization bill if agreement isn’t reached.
More from The Hill

The House and Senate are in recess for the Thanksgiving Break


Not to be missed

Biden Budget Proposal Faces Hurdles
President-elect Joe Biden faces an uphill battle to prepare his first budget proposal with his transition team blocked from coordinating with White House staff and lawmakers negotiating legislation that could upend expectations of the fiscal outlook.
Incoming presidents are often unable to submit a full budget proposal by the statutory deadline on the first Monday of February, but Biden faces more challenges than previous newcomers. His transition team can’t coordinate on budget priorities with White House Office of Management and Budget staff or officials from other agencies until the General Services Administration ascertains an apparent winner — a move GSA Administrator Emily Murphy still hasn’t made. Biden will also have to navigate an uncertain fiscal outlook with lawmakers currently negotiating separate stimulus and omnibus spending packages.
Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal will serve as an early opportunity to broadly lay out his vision for legislation and his fiscal road map. Incoming presidents since George W. Bush have submitted a short proposal in February or March and then a more detailed plan in April or May. Appropriators often reject the spending proposals, but it’s a high-profile chance for the president to offer big ideas.
Another immediate challenge for Biden’s team to get started on a budget proposal is the uncertainty of the fiscal 2021 spending bills on Capitol Hill. One of the first steps in preparing a budget is setting baseline expectations for government spending and receipts, and for the economic outlook. Any proposed increases or decreases are based on those baseline numbers.

But the current negotiations on an omnibus spending package to fund the government past the Dec. 11 deadline make it less clear what the spending figures should look like, according to Steve Redburn, a lecturer at George Washington University and former OMB official. Presidential budget proposals in transition years tend to be a struggle even in more normal circumstances. The full budget proposals released in April or May in a transition year don’t include “the kind of detail you see in a regular cycle,” Redburn said.
From Bloomberg reports
Manufacturing Focus Offers Hope for Tax Perk
President-elect Joe Biden’s interest in boosting domestic manufacturing is a good sign for companies that want to see a temporary tax policy known as full expensing extended or made permanent. Businesses have long been allowed to deduct investment costs, but the 2017 tax law temporarily allows the immediate write-off of costs associated with the purchase of capital goods, including manufacturing equipment. The provision is set to start phasing out after 2022 and expire at the end of 2026. Biden’s transition team has indicated support for reversing much of the tax law, which could be difficult if congress remains divided.
More on Biden’s tax plans from CNBC
Federal Water Rule Expected to Stay Murky Under Biden Without Congress
A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling failed to define WOTUS fully. And, a bitterly divided Congress in 2021 is unlikely to make headway on the issue, particularly when congressional efforts to address Clean Water Act jurisdiction have failed in the past.
From Bloomberg reports
Pfizer and BioNTech Request Emergency Authorization from FDA for Covid Vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech filed Friday for an emergency use authorization that could allow their Covid-19 vaccine to be used in the U.S. next month. The filing with the Food and Drug Administration could permit the vaccine to be administered to high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle to the end of December, the companies said in a statement.
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