Possible Setback on Competitiveness Bill
United States Innovation and Competition Act
The United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which aims to bolster American competitiveness and counter China by addressing semiconductor shortages, has been a major cause of contention in Congress recently. House Democrats are pressing for their leaders to bring the Senate-passed bill to the floor. The House and Senate both passed versions of the bill - sending it to a conference committee that began work on a final package in April with the hope of passing USICA before fall elections. For the most part, everything seemed on track to meet that timeline until two weeks ago when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) threatened to kill the legislation if Democrats advance their reconciliation bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) said he isn’t giving up on a competitiveness bill.
Build Back Better
On Wednesday, July 6, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (WV) came to an agreement for possible resurrection of the Build Back Better Act by focusing on lowering prescription drug costs. Lawmakers officially submitted the prescription drug plan to the Senate parliamentarian for review. Negotiations over climate and tax provisions are ongoing and its uncertain if those will make it in the final bill. The prescription drug proposal would enable Medicare to negotiate prices on a select group of drugs beginning in 2023 and cap Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year. It would also require rebates for price hikes, expand prescription drug subsidies for low-income seniors and make all vaccines free for seniors. Midterm elections are fast approaching and Democrats are hoping to capitalize on their existing majorities in case they are no longer able to pass legislation next year. This reconciliation bill could be their last major chance to approve new prescription drug, climate and tax policy.
On Friday, July 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the June unemployment report, which showed the economy gained 372,000 jobs and unemployment hovered at 3.6%. More jobs were added last month than economists expected. The unemployment rate for Black women fell to 5.6% in June, down from 5.9% previously; however, the labor force participation rate went down from 62.7% to 62%.
Click here to access the report.