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Tax & Financial Services Week Ahead - Pat Soldano

The House and Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon and Monday at 3 p.m., respectively.

The House and Senate are scheduled to leave Washington after this week for the holiday season, though they will likely stay in session longer to approve multiple must-pass items.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed legislation to keep the government funded through Feb. 18, clearing the way for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and debt limit legislation.

To date, the Senate has been unable to reach agreement to vote on the defense authorization bill. The two chambers continue to work negotiate a compromise deal. Lawmakers must also address the looming debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has indicated the government will be unable to fulfill its obligations around Dec. 15, but some outside observers suggest that date could be in January or even February. Nevertheless, lawmakers could address the debt limit this week.

With little floor time remaining, other legislative priorities such as the Build Back Better Act are unlikely to move this week. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have recently acknowledged this, suggesting lawmakers will likely have to revisit the package in the new year. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) continues to state that a vote will take place before the end of the year.

On the Floor

The House will vote on the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act (H.R.4616), which would deem certain references to LIBOR as referring to a replacement benchmark rate upon the occurrence of certain events affecting LIBOR. The House could also consider legislation related to the debt limit.

The Senate will move to advance the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission and again consider the NDAA.

In Committee

House Financial Services Committee

On Tuesday, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Ensuring Equitable Delivery of Disaster Benefits to Vulnerable Communities and Peoples: An Examination of GAO’s Findings of the CDBG Program .” No witnesses are currently listed.

Administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) provide grants to states, insular areas and local governments to support a range of activities, such as housing, economic development and neighborhood revitalization. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress appropriated $5 billion for CDBG. During this hearing, lawmakers are expected to explore the disbursement of these funds.

On Wednesday, the full committee will hold a hearing entitled “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States ,” during which the following witnesses will testify:

  • Jeremy Allaire (CEO, Circle)
  • Sam Bankman-Fried (CEO, FTX)
  • Brian Brooks (CEO, Bitfury)
  • Chad Cascarilla (CEO, Paxos)
  • Danelle Dixon (CEO, Stellar Development Foundation)
  • Alesia Haas (CEO, Coinbase Inc., and CFO, Coinbase Global Inc.)

Digital assets, such as cryptocurrency and stablecoins, enable the creation and transfer of digital value without an intermediary. The technology continues to grow in popularity with even the Federal Reserve exploring the idea of central bank digital currencies. In congressional testimony last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is expected to release its report on the topic soon. Lawmakers could investigate the difficulty of regulating digital assets.

On Thursday, the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “A Review of Diversity and Inclusion Performance at America’s Large Investment Firm s.” No witnesses are currently listed.

In recent years, studies have revealed that women- and minority-owned firms within the mutual fund, hedge fund, private equity fund and real estate fund industries accounted for somewhere between 3% and 9%. The Biden administration has made diversity, equity and inclusion a central driver of its agenda. Nearly a year into the new administration, lawmakers could use this hearing to examine the effectiveness of the administration’s policies and what additional steps could be taken to promote diversity and inclusion in investment firms.

Senate Banking Committee

On Tuesday, the full committee will hold a confirmation hearing  to consider the following nominees:

  • Parisa Salehi (to be inspector general, Export Import Bank)
  • Brian Michael Tomney (to be inspector general, Federal Housing Finance Agency)

House Ways and Means Committee 

On Tuesday, the Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “The Fierce Urgency of Now—Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust ,” during which the following witnesses will testify:

  • Robert Roach (president, Alliance for Retired Americans)
  • Nancy Altman (president, Social Security Works)
  • Shaun Castle (deputy executive director, Paralyzed Veterans of America)
  • Yanira Cruz (president and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging)
  • Andrew Biggs (senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute)
  • Elizabeth (Bette) Marafino (president, Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans)
  • Amy Matsui (director of income security and senior counsel, National Women’s Law Center)
  • Rachel Greszler (research fellow in economics, budget and entitlements, The Heritage Foundation)
  • Max Richtman (president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare)

In October 2021, Subcommittee Chair John Larson (D-CT) introduced the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust Act  (H.R.5723), which is cosponsored by 194 House Democrats. The Senate companion (S.3071), introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), has only one cosponsor, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The bill, which appears the sole focus of the hearing, contains two aims: increasing benefits and strengthening the trust fund. To learn more about the bill, read the fact sheet  or section-by-section .

On Wednesday, the Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “The Pandora Papers and Hidden Wealth .” No witnesses are currently listed.

The Pandora Papers are millions of documents leaked by news outlets like the Washington Post  in early October 2021 that revealed the existence of offshore accounts held by wealthy individuals around the world, including sitting and former government leaders. Lawmakers are expected to review these tax strategies and explore policies to make it more difficult for wealthy taxpayers to conceal their wealth.

Senate Finance Committee

On Tuesday, the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Promoting Competition, Growth and Privacy Protection in the Technology Sector ,” during which the following witnesses will testify:

  • Courtenay Brown (Amazon associate at Avenel, New Jersey, Fulfilment Center; leader with United for Respect)
  • Karl Racine (attorney general, District of Columbia)
  • Garry Lynn (executive director, Open Markets Institute)
  • Justin Sherman (fellow and research lead, Data Brokerage Project, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University)
  • Samm Sacks (senior fellow, Yale Law School, and cyber policy fellow, International Security Program, New America)
  • Stacey Gray (senior counsel, Future of Privacy Forum)
With both an Amazon employee at District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine testifying, lawmakers are likely expected to investigate the ongoing lawsuit against Amazon. Most recently, in mid-September Racine announced his office will be broadening its antitrust lawsuit against the mammoth technology company to include its agreements with wholesalers as well as third-party sellers. Beyond this, lawmakers are expected to ask questions to other witnesses about more general legislative efforts related to data privacy and antitrust, particularly as they relate to Big Tech.

Read the FULL “Tax & Financial Services Week Ahead” update
from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.


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