Public Policy Update - September 2021
Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work Continues on $3.5 Trillion “Social Infrastructure” Bill
The $3.5 trillion tax and spending package that forms the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda is now making its way through the legislative process in the House and Senate.
In the House, the Ways and Means Committee is crafting its part of the bill this week. Democrats suffered a setback today in the Energy and Commerce Committee, where three moderates in the party voted down a plan to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare recipients.
That proposal – long a priority of Democratic leaders – provides a crucial part of the financing for the overall legislation. While it can be added back in, its defeat here reflects the unease some moderates in the party have with the legislation.
Senate Democrats are expected to release their own detailed version of the legislation this week. Over the weekend, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he remains opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag that Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have set for the bill.
The overall package still has to go through many steps and there are expected to be significant differences between the versions passed by the House and the Senate. We will continue monitoring the legislative package, which aims to address many areas of concern to grantmakers.
Hurricane Ida, Flooding Relief Likely to Be Part of Stopgap Spending Bill
The fiscal year ends on September 30 and with none of the regular spending bills passed into law, Congress will have to pass what’s known as a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on October 1.
The resolution would keep the government running at existing funding levels. However, it will also likely include new spending to address immediate issues, including disaster relief for areas damaged by Hurricane Ida, flooding in central Tennessee and other natural disasters.
Spending Bills Leave DAFs, Charitable Deduction Untouched
While Democrats are considering a variety of tax and spending changes in the $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” package, neither the House nor the Senate are using the legislation as a way to enact changes to laws governing donor-advised funds and private foundations or an extension of the universal charitable deduction.
The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, introduced earlier this year, would make several changes relevant to private foundations and donor-advised funds. We reviewed these provisions in detail in our July update.
Because the ACE Act makes changes to tax policy, there was potential it could be folded into the $3.5 trillion bill. However, lawmakers do not appear to be interested in moving forward with the proposal at this time – the stand-alone legislation has not attracted any co-sponsors in either the House or the Senate. You can view a recording of our July webinar on the ACE Act from our Program Archive (SECF.org login required).
The universal charitable deduction (UCD) is also not included in the bill. The CARES Act created a temporary UCD that will expire at the end of the year.
“Traditional” Infrastructure Bill Still on Track in House
The bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package that has already passed the Senate remains on track for a vote in the House this month.
The bill, which would provide funding for roads, bridges, broadband and other “hard” infrastructure, passed the Senate with 19 Republican votes.
The House vote is widely expected since moderate Democrats there extracted a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to hold a vote on the bill by September 27 in exchange for their support of starting the process on the $3.5 trillion package.
Save the Date for Foundations on the Hill 2022!
Our partners at the United Philanthropy Forum have announced that Foundations on the Hill will return in-person March 21-23, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Registration for FOTH 2022 will open late this year – keep an eye out for more details!