August 13, 2021
The Senate passed a $3.5 trillion FY2022 Budget Resolution that could enable Democrats to enact paid family leave and other health care reforms this fall without any GOP votes. However, enactment hinges on whether the House approves the resolution, Democrats can reach a consensus within their own caucus on actual legislation, and procedural obstacles in the Senate can be overcome.
The resolution includes several workplace topics that are Democratic priorities such as paid family and medical leave, pro-union incentives and worker support, health equity, ACA expansion, corporate tax reform, childcare for working families, workforce development and job training, labor enforcement and penalties, and immigration reform.
President Biden announced his support for enacting several drug pricing reforms, including enabling Medicare to negotiate prices for a subset of expensive drugs that do not face market competition, creating a penalty for drug companies that raise their prices faster than inflation, and accelerating the development and uptake of generic and biosimilar drugs.
Majority Leader Schumer has a Sept. 15 deadline for the Senate Committees to complete legislative text and have it ready for the Democratic Caucus to review.
Outlook: Assuming the House passes the resolution, it is still subject to reconciliation process rules, where only provisions that affect the federal budget can be passed. This could mean that some of the Democrats' workplace priorities, such as establishing a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants and paid leave, may not be allowed. Provisions that make it past the Senate parliamentarian will then require the approval of the full Democratic caucus in the Senate as well as the support of the majority of House members, which is expected to be difficult to attain because of different factions within each body. Nonetheless, the passage of the budget resolution is setting up a busy legislative landscape for the fall, and one that is full of workplace topics.