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‘Build Back Better’ Package Remains Stalled in U.S. Senate

SVP Government Affairs Tim Tarpley
Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel

Analysis by Energy Workforce SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley

With talks breaking down in December, it appears that the prospects of passage of the “Build Back Better” package are becoming less likely, as the longer the debate drags into the 2022 campaign season, the less likely it will pass.

Shortly before Christmas, Sen. Joe Manchin made it clear he would not support the full White House supported proposal and instead offered his own $1.8 trillion package. The climate change details in this proposal have been closely watched, even though they were not made public. However, based on the rejection from the White House and many progressives, it can be assumed the climate change provisions were not as aggressive as those contained in the original package.

While we have seen some conversations between Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Manchin on issues like the child tax credit, where common ground could be met, these talks have not led to anything concrete. Additionally, Sen. Manchin has stated that some of the climate provisions of the “Build Back Better” package could be pulled out and put into a separate, new energy/climate package at some point. This prospect, while certainly something to watch, would need to garner 60 votes in the Senate as it would not be able to utilize the reconciliation process in order to pass. This would necessitate the support of at least 10 Republicans, along with all Democrats, which is a daunting task given the current political climate.     

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on OSHA’s Vaccine Mandate

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two federal vaccine mandates on January 7. The first, and most important to our sector, is the OSHA ETS mandate that requires companies with over 100 employees to either provide proof of vaccination for each worker or require that worker to submit to weekly COVID testing. The other mandate deals with healthcare workers. 

Based on the read out of the proceedings, it appears the court could throw out the OSHA ETS or, at the least, limit its scope and applicability. Conservatives on the court seemed hesitant to grant an agency such wide-ranging power to enforce a nationwide mandate.

There was also significant focus on the fact that throughout U.S. history, mandates such as this are typically promulgated and enforced by state and local jurisdictions, not the federal government. Taking all of this questioning into account, it appears likely that the ETS may be rejected by the court in the coming days.

Enforcement of the penalty for noncompliance will be begin February 9, so it is our hope that the court will release their ruling in the coming days. The Council is hosting a townhall on the mandate and will discuss any legal developments on January 14.  

Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.


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