Congressional Update: Build Back Better; Climate/Energy; Vaping; SEC Climate Disclosures

Last week, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) more clearly articulated his vision of a scaled-back Build Back Better Act (BBB). This bill would not receive Republican support, so it would have to be passed through a process called reconciliation that would require the support of all 50 Senate Democrats.

Senator Manchin and fellow moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) effectively killed the previous iteration of BBB.

Senator Manchin indicated the bill could be paid for by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate the cost of prescription drugs and slightly increase corporate, individual and capital gains taxes in order to provide $500 billion in clean energy spending, subsidies, and tax incentives (without elimination of traditional forms of energy).

Notably, Senator Manchin’s soft proposal may not satisfy many progressive demands, including universal pre-K and extending the childcare tax credit. However, progressives have signaled a desire to get something done.

Senator Manchin views the April-May Senate work period as the best time to potentially reach a new agreement.

Climate/Energy Security

While the House was out of session this week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on climate and energy security.

Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) said that a renewable energy agenda must accelerate the deployment of EVs and biofuels but conceded that the transition will not occur overnight and that a “post liquid fuel world” has not yet arrived.

Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) called on the Biden Administration to reduce regulatory uncertainty to allow for more domestic production of traditional and clean energy.

Senators also largely agreed on a bipartisan basis that the U.S. must increase domestic production of critical minerals important to the EV component supply chain.


Also this week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent letters to the CEOs of four vaping companies over “marketing of synthetic nicotine products to teens.” These letters requesting information could lead to formal hearings before the Committee.

SEC Climate Disclosure

At the Executive Branch level, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a set of rules on Monday that would require publicly traded companies (including privately held companies that they do business with) to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, information on climate-related risks, and climate-related financial metrics.

Congressional Republicans immediately criticized the SEC’s announcement, arguing that it has no jurisdiction to impose climate-related disclosure requirements.

Legal challenges are expected.

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