Members of the Illinois Senate were back in Springfield today to consider an energy regulatory overhaul bill that’s been in discussion in some form since at least 2019. The House is due back tomorrow to vote on the bill, should the Senate get it done today. But the exact language that will be voted on had not been filed as of Monday night, although many facets of what is expected to be a 900-page measure are largely believed to be settled in the form of two drafts that have been circulating since last week.
If nothing gets done this week, legislative leaders could call a special session sometime in the near future to consider a further negotiated bill. But as of Monday night the plan appeared to still be to get it done this week.
Further in today’s update will be news on the start to the budget reconciliation process, a new entry into the vaccine pool, the latest on infrastructure and expectations for additional policy, and new labor agreements for casinos.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Schumer to Trigger Reconciliation Process on Wednesday
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he will convene a meeting with all 11 Democratic members of the Budget Committee Wednesday to begin the process for passing a budget resolution, paving the way for Democrats to pass a major infrastructure bill on a party-line vote.
Schumer said he hopes to pass the budget resolution for fiscal year 2022 in July. “Tomorrow I’m convening a meeting with all 11 Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee regarding a fiscal year ‘22 budget resolution,” Schumer said. “Now that President Biden’s fiscal ‘22 budget request has been received by Congress, the Budget Committee can begin the important work of producing a budget resolution,” he added.
Schumer tacitly noted that a budget resolution would set the stage for passing elements of Biden’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan with simple-majority votes. “Especially with respect to the jobs and family plan. As you know, a budget resolution will outline how we go forward and includes issues that are affecting, that are part of reconciliation,” he said. That would set the stage for passing a massive infrastructure investment bill with only Democratic votes after the August recess.
Schumer also plans to bring a scaled-down infrastructure package to the Senate floor in July under regular order. That bill would need 60 votes to pass outside the reconciliation process. But it’s running into opposition from Senate progressives such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who say they won’t vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless all 50 members of the Democratic caucus agree on the size and shape of the later reconciliation bill, which needs unanimous Democratic support to pass the 50-50 Senate. “Both are moving forward, the bipartisan track and the track on reconciliation. And both we hope to get done in July. Both the budget resolution and the bipartisan bill,” Schumer said.
Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Is 90% Effective in Key Study
An experimental Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax Inc. was 90.4% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in adults in a large clinical trial, the company said, results that move the shot a step closer to global use. The 29,960-person study conducted in the U.S. and Mexico also found that the vaccine was similarly effective against newer coronavirus strains, especially the alpha variant now dominant in the U.S., Novavax said.
The vaccine, given in two doses three weeks apart, was also generally safe and well tolerated in the study, the company said. “Our vaccine works very well even though the virus has mutated significantly,” said Dr. Gregory Glenn, Novavax’s president of research and development.
Altogether, the results suggest Novavax’s vaccine is on track to become the fourth authorized for use in the U.S. Yet Novavax executives said the regulatory clearances are months away because the company still needs to finish preparing manufacturing. If permitted by regulators, the shot could add a much-needed boost to global efforts to vaccinate people against the coronavirus, which has revealed growing disparities between developed and developing countries.
Regulatory clearance would infuse a new supply of doses. The company has said it expects more than two billion doses of its vaccine will be produced annually when the company and its manufacturing partners reach full capacity. The shots also can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, averting the need for the freezers required for some other Covid-19 vaccines.
Novavax, of Gaithersburg, Md., said it plans to request the vaccine’s authorization in the U.S., U.K. and other countries during the third quarter. Despite the study results, Novavax said it needs much of that time to ensure that its manufacturing processes meet regulatory standards. Novavax has experienced various delays in developing and manufacturing its vaccine. In May, the company said shortages in raw materials had caused production delays that would push back targets for reaching peak manufacturing capacity. In the U.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to take 30 days to review the manufacturing-quality data before Novavax may formally request an authorization of use, Mr. Erck said.
The company has a contract with the federal government to deliver 110 million doses for use in the U.S. Mr. Erck said the company doesn’t know if the government will decide to distribute them in the U.S. or contribute them to Covax and other countries. The vaccine would be the fourth authorized in the U.S., after shots developed by Pfizer Inc. with its partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.
The overall efficacy of the Novavax shot in its study approaches the efficacy of at least 94% demonstrated in large trials last year for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The Novavax shot’s efficacy is higher than the 66% overall efficacy shown by J&J’s vaccine in a large trial. The Pfizer and Moderna trials were conducted before more transmissible variants of the coronavirus spread significantly, while the J&J and Novavax trials were conducted while the variants were spreading.
Novavax said 82% of the subjects in the study who got symptomatic Covid-19—and for whom genetic-sequence data were available—were infected with newer variants. Novavax previously reported positive results from a separate, 15,000-person study of its vaccine in the U.K. There, the vaccine was 89.3% effective at protecting people from Covid-19, including many infected with the alpha variant of the coronavirus.
The FDA usually wants to see data from a trial conducted at least partly in the U.S. before deciding whether to authorize a medicine. A regulatory go-ahead would be a milestone for Novavax, a small company in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that has never won approval for a vaccine.
Hill Staffers Expect Infrastructure Bill to Pass, but Little Else
President Joe Biden’s agenda is shrinking. According to CQ Roll Call’s latest Capitol Insiders Survey of congressional staffers, the big question remains how large an infrastructure bill Congress will give him to sign. Aides are doubtful there will be much of significance beyond it.
President Biden has already more than halved his initial proposal for a $2.3 trillion bill to build roads and bridges, but also expand electric vehicle charging stations, climate research and care for senior citizens. Most of the 106 aides who responded to CQ Roll Call’s poll said that they expected it would pass but that Congress would scale it back still further. CQ Roll Call emailed the staffers on June 7 and they had till June 9 to respond. Of those who did, 60 were Republicans, 44 Democrats, and two independents.
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that Congress will pass an infrastructure bill, and most of them expect it will be close to the $1 trillion plan Biden offered to the Republicans’ negotiator, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, on June 2. Nearly 6 in 10 of the Democratic respondents said they expected Congress would pass a slightly scaled-back bill, with the rest expecting passage with more significant downsizing. Among Republican aides, close to half of those who took the survey said Biden would get his $1 trillion or something close to it, with about the same predicting Congress would scale it back further or refuse to pass it at all.
President Biden, on June 8, said he was halting negotiations with Capito. While Capito had offered a plan with about $300 billion in new spending, Republicans wanted to repurpose money Congress appropriated earlier this year and last for COVID-19 relief, boost gasoline taxes and impose a new fee on electric vehicles, while Biden remains committed to new spending paid for with taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
Still, bipartisan negotiations continue under the auspices of a group of Senate moderates, including Democrats Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah. Those senators said they had reached an agreement on $579 billion in new infrastructure spending on June 10.
In that sense, the infrastructure negotiations are tracking last December’s $900 billion COVID-19 relief law, which was incorporated into a year-end omnibus after moderates rescued faltering negotiations between President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans and House Democrats.
The bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, which was also a player in the December negotiations, released a plan on June 9 with $762 billion in new spending without specifying how it would be paid for. If those efforts gain traction, it seems likely that the Senate moderates will split the difference between Biden’s offer and Capito’s and lobby progressives in the Democratic caucus, and Biden, to swallow it.
Progressives railed against Sinema and Manchin at a Senate Democratic lunch on June 8 and indicated they preferred to drop the negotiations and write a bill under budget reconciliation rules that Democrats can pass on a simple majority and carry without GOP votes. New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich tweeted that the bipartisan group shouldn’t expect all Democrats to back a bill that skimps on climate change and clean energy provisions. But in a Senate divided 50-50, the Democrats on the left are still stuck because no bill will advance without the votes of Sinema and Manchin and something, the respondents to CQ Roll Call’s poll agreed, will win out over nothing.
A parallel debate is now consuming the Republican caucus. Senate Minority Whip John Thune said he didn’t believe a bipartisan bill that goes far beyond Capito’s offer would get the needed 10 Republican votes to break a filibuster. But Republicans know that alienating Manchin could open the floodgates to legislation they find more objectionable.
Democratic wish list
In a Jan. 6 op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin asserted anew that his vote is the most important in Congress. In closing the door on even weakening the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to proceed with legislation, Manchin narrowed Biden’s agenda significantly.
Democrats thought that they could persuade him to weaken it if he witnessed repeated GOP filibusters and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer began that effort with votes on May 28 to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, and on June 8, on legislation to combat pay discrepancies between men and women that all Republicans opposed.
Schumer plans more such votes this month, including on Democrats’ signature bill to overhaul state elections laws and the campaign finance system, known as S 1. But the congressional staffers who took CQ Roll Call’s poll are skeptical it will make any difference.
Not a single Democratic aide thought senators would eliminate the legislative filibuster, and just 28 percent of them said they thought the Senate would weaken it, while 59 percent said the Senate would preserve it. Meanwhile, Republicans are confident Manchin will stand his ground, with 84 percent expecting the filibuster rule will remain. Given that, aides of both parties now doubt Democrats can enact their elections bill (passed in the House as HR 1). Unlike an infrastructure bill, Democrats cannot use budget reconciliation rules to pass it, and 69 percent of the Democratic respondents and 95 percent of the Republican ones said it’s dead.
The same problem stands in the way of other Democratic priorities. Three in five of the aides don’t believe Congress will pass an immigration bill with fewer than 3 in 10 expecting it will. The aides see the odds of a gun control measure as even worse, with 73 percent saying it’s somewhat or very unlikely and only 17 percent of the view that it’s somewhat or very likely. On June 9, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said his talks on guns with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy had broken down, while the Democratic lead on immigration, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, is not near an agreement with Republicans.
The aides who took CQ Roll Call’s poll did say they expected their Democratic and Republican bosses to come to terms on a bill to overhaul police practices. But that now looks less likely, as Republicans and groups representing law enforcement officers have rejected draft language.
Biden’s second big ask, a $1.8 trillion bill to expand childcare, make community college free, increase paid leave for workers and boost taxes on the wealthy, also faces tough sledding. More than half of the aides think Congress will not pass it. A narrow Democratic plurality is holding out hope it will, but with slight to significant reductions in its scope.
Schumer said on June 8 that he now foresees the possibility of a two-track process for Biden’s big bills this year, with both a bipartisan offering and a reconciliation measure. If Biden’s American Families Plan has any hope, it will likely need to move this year. As last year’s debates over coronavirus relief demonstrated, Democratic moderates grow skittish about government largesse as Election Day approaches. Recall that 14 House Democrats voted “no” last May on their party’s $3 trillion coronavirus relief proposal. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought up a reduced $2.2 trillion version in October, the number of defectors grew to 18.
Several of those Democrats lost their seats, but Pelosi’s majority also shrunk and she now has only three votes to spare if Republicans unite in opposition. As Manchin has made plain, Schumer faces the same challenge in a 50-50 Senate.
Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Expanding Economic Opportunity and Workers’ Rights Protections
Building on efforts to expand worker’s rights protections and economic opportunity for communities across Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker today signed legislation requiring casino applicants to enter a project labor agreement when seeking a new or renewed casino license.
“Expanding access to economic opportunity through high quality jobs has been priority since day one for this administration,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “SB 1360 meets that commitment while establishing a process that gives all hardworking men and women certainty and safe treatment. I applaud Representative Jay Hoffman and Senator Dale Fowler for their steadfast commitment to communities across the state which will benefit from this legislation.”
Casino owner applicants must provide evidence that that they have entered into a project labor agreement which conforms to requirements of the Project Labor Agreements Act. The agreements will apply to employees engaged in construction and will also ensure the protection of Illinois jobs by eliminating the ability to bring in out-of-state workers at low wages.
“This legislation is about protecting Illinois jobs, and about keeping good paying jobs downstate,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville). “I’m glad that this critical measure will ensure that we uphold our promises to our local labor unions. I thank Governor Pritzker and his administration for continuing to advance our common goal of creating even more economic opportunity for families in every corner of our state.”
“Labor organizations are the backbone of our middle class, and I sponsored this legislation to ensure that we honor our commitment to the hardworking men and women who make up our local labor unions,” said State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “I’m proud to be a vocal advocate for Illinois workers, and am excited that the Governor is signing legislation to guarantee future well-paying jobs stay in Southern Illinois.”
“We once again applaud a bipartisan group of legislators and Gov. Pritzker for underscoring their commitment to economic development and well-paying jobs in southern Illinois, driven by the power of working men and women in organized labor,” said Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO representing nearly 900,000 workers across the state. “These new requirements in the law will ensure exciting casino developments will hire the skilled, well-trained labor force living right here in Illinois to move our economy and our state forward.”
Required contents of project labor agreements include:
• Goals for apprenticeship hours to be performed by underrepresented minorities and women.
• Procedures for resolving jurisdiction labor disputes and grievances.
• Ensuring a reliable source of skilled and experienced labor.
• Guarantees against strikes and lockouts.
• Allowing the selection of the lowest qualified responsible bidder, without regard to union or non-union status at other construction sites.
• Binding all contractors and subcontractors on the project through appropriate bid specifications in all relevant bid documents.
Renewed casino license applications are required to cover wages, benefits and other compensation in the project labor agreement.
Any pending new casino application before the Illinois Gaming Board must provide evidence of the project labor agreement within 30 days after the effective date.
SB 136o is effective immediately.
Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
|Small Business Tax Credit Programs
Did you know that the American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses?
Small Disadvantaged Business Contracting Goal News
On June 1, 2021, the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new steps to help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed policies. Specifically, the Administration is expanding access to two key wealth-creators – small business ownership and homeownership – in communities of color and disadvantaged communities.
Federal Contracting Webinar Series
Do you need help with federal contracting? The ChallengeHER webinar series offers education and training on the federal contracting system. Below is a list of upcoming webinars.
8(a) Orientation Workshop/SAM Registration
This webinar will provide an overview of the 8(a) Business Development program, eligibility requirements, program benefits and training, steps to registering in the System for Award Management (SAM) database in order to do business with the federal government. Wednesday, June 16, 9:30 a.m.
CDC Mask Guidance
The CDC still recommends that unvaccinated people continue to take preventive measures, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. In their latest guidance, the CDC now reports that indoor and outdoor activities pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people and that fully vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to unvaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated people can:
• Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
• Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
• Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
• Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
• Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
• Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
Governor Pritzker Mask Changes:
Finally, join us in June for our re-scheduled luncheon with Police Chief Dawn Malec and Fire Chief Greg Blaskey on Wednesday, June 16 at Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel. You may make reservations here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-member-lunch-june-16-meet-greet-with-joliet-police-fire-chiefs-6060
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry