Tax & Financial Services Week Ahead, November 15, 2021

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

The House and Senate will reconvene Monday at 6:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. 

What to Watch

This afternoon, President Joe Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—the bipartisan infrastructure framework and first pillar of his two-pronged legislative agenda. 

The other pillar, the Build Back Better Act, has not yet passed either chamber. The House could vote on the bill as early as this week, provided the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases the “additional financial information” a group of moderate Democrats have sought. A CBO score is expected by Nov. 19.

Even if the House passes the budget reconciliation package this week, it will likely be altered in the Senate. Two senators in particular, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), will be at the heart of these discussions.

With the release of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report that last week that inflation grew at an annual rate of 6.2%, the largest increase in over 30 years, some feared that Manchin might push to delay passage of the Build Back Better Act. Manchin previously called for a “strategic pause,” though following the BLS report, he only said “by all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and is instead getting worse.” However, should he and other moderate Democrats grow increasingly concerned about inflationary pressure, the overall spending in the Build Back Better Act could be reduced or shelved. 

President Biden has repeatedly rebuffed these concerns, however, claiming the package would instead counteract inflationary pressure, rather than add to it. 

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a Dear Colleague letter yesterday that he and the Senate Budget Committee have been working with House and Senate committees and the Senate parliamentarian on the “Privilege Scrub” of the Build Back Better Act to ensure it complies with Senate reconciliation rules and the instructions in the budget resolution. Schumer is aiming to complete that process and begin holding “Byrd Bath” meetings with the parliamentarian this week. 

On the Floor

The House is not scheduled to consider any tax or financial services legislation, although it could vote on the Build Back Better Act. 

The Senate will consider the National Defense Authorization Act this week, according to Schumer. 

In Committee

Senate Banking Committee

On Thursday, the full committee will hold a confirmation hearing on the following nominees: 

If confirmed, Saule Omarova will be responsible for ensuring national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Since her nomination, however, Omarova has proven controversial. Some lawmakers, mostly Republicans, have taken issue with certain comments she has made, including referring to the banking industry as the “quintessential a------ industry,” calling for an end to banking “as we know it” and supporting bankruptcy for energy companies. 

House Financial Services Committee

On Tuesday, the full committee will hold a markup of the following bills: 

  • Credit Union Governance Modernization Act (H.R.2311), which would revise the procedure for expelling members from a federal credit union so that a member could be expelled for cause pursuant to a policy adopted by a majority vote of a credit union directors

  • Investor Choice Act (H.R.2620), which would prohibit broker-dealers and investment advisers from including mandatory arbitration, forum selection restrictions or bans on class action suits in a customer or client agreement. 

  • Holding SPACs Accountable Act (H.R.5910), which would exclude certain special purpose acquisition companies from safe harbor for forward-looking statements

  • Fair Hiring in Banking Act (H.R.5911), which would reduce barriers to employment in the banking industry for qualified applicants with minor criminal records

  • Protecting Investors from Excessive SPACs Fees Act (H.R.5913), which would prohibit registered advisers, brokers and registered representative of brokers from facilitating the transaction of or recommending the securities of certain special purpose acquisition companies unless certain disclosers are made

  • Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors (H.R.5914), which would create a grant program—similar to the one created by the Dodd-Frank Act’s Section 989A, which has not been implemented, housed within the SEC Investor Advocate Office to support and strengthen states’ senior investor protection programs

Senate Finance Committee

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

If confirmed, Maria Lago will lead the International Trade Administration, which is responsible for creating prosperity by strengthening the international competitiveness of U.S. industry, promoting trade and investment and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. 

House Ways and Means Committee

On Tuesday, the Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Opportunity Zone Program and Who It Left Behind,” during which the following witnesses will testify: 

  • Jessica Lucas-Judy, director of strategic issues at the Government Accountability Office

  • Brett Theodos, senior fellow at the Urban Institute

  • David Wessel, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution

  • John Persinger, CEO of the Erie Downtown Development Corporation

Opportunity Zones (OZs), enacted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA, P.L.115-97), guard investors against capital gains tax if they make long-term investments in businesses or certain projects within OZs—low-income census tracts within the U.S. The program has since received criticism that some projects through which investors gain the tax benefit have not benefited communities, undermining the purpose of the program. Lawmakers could explore how OZs have not benefited low-income communities as originally intended. 

On Wednesday, the Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Strengthening the U.S.-Africa Investment Relationship,” during which the following witnesses will testify: 

  • Florizelle (Florie) Liser, president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa

  • Witney Schneidman, nonresident fellow at The Brookings Institution

  • Rosa Whitaker, president and CEO of the The Whitaker Group

  • CJ Mahoney, deputy general counsel over U.S. international trade and Azure, Microsoft

In a recent statement to Congress, the White House announced it will suspend Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from duty-free access to U.S. markets beginning in 2022. Citing their failure to defend human rights, the administration said these countries are no longer compliant with requirements under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Lawmakers could discuss this issue and others as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes his first official trip to sub-Saharan Africa this week, visiting Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.


Tax and Finance Rewind

In case you missed it…

  • President Biden will sign the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act this afternoon after it passed the House on Friday, Nov. 5. Although the bipartisan infrastructure measure passed the Senate in August, it was prevented from advancing in the House. Now that it will become law, however, the IRS is expected to move forward quickly on guidance for the reporting requirements for cryptocurrency holders language in the bill. According to former IRS employees, the IRS could issue proposed regulations related to this section within the next few weeks. 
  • IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig published an op-ed last week in which he urged Congress to provide the agency with $80 billion. In the piece, he reiterated the Biden administration’s argument that “$400 billion in additional revenue can be generated over the next decade from enforcement efforts focused on high-end incomes, shrinking the tax gap.” He also wrote that “this figure is no surprise: If given the resources we need, we will be able to make a sizeable dent in noncompliance over several years.”

Upcoming Activity

Below is a complete list of all tax and financial services events in Congress, the administration and private sector for the upcoming week. 

Congress

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Joint Economic Committee 
Demystifying Crypto: Digital Assets and the Role of Government 
 

Administration

Wednesday, Nov. 17
 

Internal Revenue Service 
Meeting of the Advisory Council to discuss funding for the IRS and other matters 


Thursday, Nov. 18
 

Internal Revenue Service
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Joint Committee to discuss improving customer service 


Other

Wednesday, Nov. 17
 

Brookings Institute 
The Future of Work and the Workforce 


Thursday, Nov. 18 
 

Cato Institute 
Populism and the Future of the Fed 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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