This will be another week of good stuff for American democracy going to the U.S. Senate to die. The House is effectively out, though with committee work scheduled for this week until the second week of June. The Senate will join them in recess after this week. Between now and then, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would like to act on some House-passed bills on domestic terror, energy company price gouging, and infant formula. None of which is likely to overcome a Republican filibuster, made possible by Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.
The good news for young families and hungry babies is that they don’t have to rely entirely on Congress to ease the shortage of formula since the Biden administration is pushing hard to deliver, bringing emergency supplies from overseas and invoking the Defense Production Act to speed up access to materials and supplies for formula makers.
Senate Democrats would like to pass the second of the two bills the House sent them last week. The Senate passed the first, which gives people participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) more flexibility to purchase whatever brand of formula is available. The second bill gets more at one of the causes of the shortage: the Abbott Labs recall of tainted formula and the domino effect that had in an already problematic supply chain.
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Those same life-loving House Republicans voted nearly unanimously (all but one) against preventing domestic terrorism and combatting the threat of white supremacist violent extremism. The bill the House passed would set up anti-domestic terrorism units across three federal departments to coordinate the government’s effort to combat and prevent these attacks. That was the House response to the horrific mass shooting in Buffalo in which 10 Black people were killed and three were wounded by a white nationalist who said in a manifesto before the attack that his rampage was motivated by race.
In 2020, another version of that bill passed the House in a unanimous voice vote, but Senate Republicans blocked it. Now, following the Buffalo massacre, Republicans are virtually united in opposing it. Schumer intends to force a procedural vote on the bill, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022. It also won’t proceed to a floor vote.
Neither will the House bill attempting to create a deterrent to price-gouging by oil companies. A small cadre of corporate Democrats in the House voted with Republicans against that one, and you can bet Manchin is not going to let it pass in the Senate despite his whole schtick about fighting inflation.
That’s one possible way to protect consumers from it, but Manchin won’t go for it. Schumer might try to bring it to the floor this week, but he’s still trying to get Manchin on board with some kind of reconciliation bill to salvage pieces of Build Back Better. He might not want to antagonize the West Virginian spoiler.
Barring any legislative action, the Senate will likely churn through a number of executive branch nominations. There’s an outside chance they’ll find a way to move forward on the urgent issue of COVID-19 funding now that the other urgent issue of further Ukraine aid is off their plates, but right now that’s looking like a stratospherically tiny chance.
This is shaping up to be another crisis-filled week for which the most logical solution—abolish the filibuster—can’t possibly happen. It’s another week that will prove this election is the most important of our lives. Making sure Manchin and Sinema are irrelevant is the critical issue for the Senate elections of 2022.