Policy On Marijuana And The Tax Credit For Kids Is Getting The Last Push in Congress!

The last-minute flurry in Congress is rife with predictability. As always, lawmakers face the prospect of a shutdown if they are unable to complete a big funding bill in time to keep the government operating. There is a mad dash to tie some unusual ideas to the Republican takeover of the House, which is still weeks away. Major obstacles exist for many of these initiatives as a result of entrenched political divisions.

Democrats are seeking to include business tax incentives in a package that would win Republican backing for an effort to expand the child tax credit, but this remains unlikely. A Marijuana banking measure and an immigration deal may be among the other proposals that might be put on hold again if the GOP continues to oppose them.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remarks on Wednesday highlighting that he would only back an omnibus if it is a “truly bipartisan full-year package without poison pills” only served to highlight that barrier. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has only announced two major additions so far: the Electoral Count Act,

which seeks to change how Congress certifies elections and prevent a repeat of the January 6 insurrection, and more aid to Ukraine, in response to a $38 billion request from the Biden administration. Many Democrats have been pressing for all they can, despite the odds, because this is likely their last chance to implement ambitious programs under unified control.

‘The omnibus is really the last train leaving the station in terms of a package,’ a Democratic Senate aide told Vox. There is only about a week left until Congress wants to leave for a holiday break, so there isn’t much time left on the floor to approve much beyond the funding bill. The following are four proposed policies that have been discussed as an afterthought in an effort to get anything passed.

Money Laundering with Marijuana

Despite consistent efforts to move forward on a bipartisan marijuana banking measure this year, it has been stuck in the Republican opposition’s muddied waters so far. The SAFE Banking Act, authored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steven Daines (R-MT), will allow banks to interact with marijuana firms, which are legal in many states but illegal at the federal level.

Legal marijuana businesses, which must currently rely on cash, will have safer access to and storage of capital thanks to a provision that prevents federal regulators from penalizing banks that engage with them. SAFE Banking Plus is an extended package that helps states expunge records of nonviolent marijuana-related felonies.

Congressmen had hoped to have the law passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, another piece of legislation that needs to be passed before Congress breaks for the holidays. Given the failure of that attempt, they have shifted their focus to the omnibus funding measure, which could be killed again by Republican opposition.

While nine Republican senators have previously co-sponsored the bill, at least ten would be required to overcome a filibuster. Merkley told Vox, “I’m hearing that certain prominent Republicans are stopping it from being in the deal,” adding that he is still working for it to be included in the omnibus.

Several senators, including McConnell and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), have voiced opposition to the plan and indicated that they will do what they can to avoid it from being included in the omnibus spending bill.

McConnell said that the bill would make the United States’ “financial system more sympathetic to illegal substances,” and a Grassley representative questioned whether the law would make it easier for drug traffickers to utilize the United States banking system. The idea was subsequently removed from the military bill due to McConnell’s objection, which even Republican co-sponsors opposed.

Because many firms are forced to have significant sums of cash on hand and are therefore great targets for robberies, Merkley argued that enabling legal marijuana businesses to operate with banks will make the industry and its transactions safer. Taxes, which are now paid in cash by many firms, may be more easily collected by the IRS if legal Marijuana businesses are allowed to utilize banks.

He told Vox, “If you believe in rule of law, you would want to incorporate the cannabis market into the electronic banking system.” According to a statement sent by spokesman Rachel Dumke, Daines shared this view. For the sake of community safety, the senator “is seeking whatever option to get SAFE Banking passed by the end of the year,” she said, adding that she believes there is bipartisan support to make that happen.

Tax Breaks for Kids

More than three million kids have lifted out of poverty in 2021 thanks to an increased child tax credit that was passed by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan. As a result of this policy, families can earn up to $3,600 per child, which is a significant increase over the previous payout threshold of $2,000. However, this rule was only in effect until the end of last year, so most of the progress it made has been undone.

To include a child tax credit boost in the omnibus measure, Democrats need the support of Republicans. It will require a compromise between Republican-supported corporate tax cuts and Democratic-preferred expansion of the child tax credit. A significant research and development tax credit that many businesses rely on is set to expire this year, as Vox’s Rachel Cohen explained, putting pressure on Republican lawmakers to renew it.

The Democrats are using this coincidence to boost their CTC efforts. At a press conference last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, “It’s fairly simple: No corporate tax cuts without tax relief for working people.” Brown is one of the top Democrats advocating the CTC, along with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

What form of the CTC the Democrats might be able to negotiate for inclusion in the omnibus is still up in the air. It’s unclear how much it would be or how long it would continue, but it’s sure to differ from the one they enacted in 2021. Legislators have stated that protecting the CTC’s “fully refundable” status,

which was established in 2021 and provides the entire benefit to low-income families, is their top concern. Many Republicans, including West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, have spoken out against renewing the CTC expansion out of concern that it will discourage parents from working.

Republican Senator for Utah Mitt Romney told Semafor he didn’t think any significant movement would be made on the matter this year. Romney is working on his own child tax credit idea. Democrats are hoping it will happen sooner so they can meet particular tax obligations before the end of 2022.

Reforming The Immigration System

If we’re talking about long odds, immigration reform is the furthest away one. In a framework released last week, Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) proposed a path to citizenship for two million Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the US as minors, in exchange for more funding for border security and an extension of Title 42.

However, as Vox’s Nicole Narea observed, this strategy includes measures that progressive Democrats and Republicans have opposed, and Tillis has already stated that he does not intend to advocate for the bill in the omnibus. However, some Democrats are still pushing for immigration reform as part of this wider package, with a particular emphasis on creating a path to citizenship for people who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Despite limited time and Republican interest, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) told Vox that “efforts have been relentless” to include an immigration fix in the omnibus measure. Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “There is an effort to accomplish some immigration reform, but tough to do in the waning days of the session” (D-CT). The DACA students are a top focus.”

However, the primary obstacle to any immigration reform plan is Republican support, specifically whether or not 10 senators would sign on. Before this year was up, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) led the introduction of the DREAM Act, which also focuses on providing a pathway to citizenship for DREAMERs, and indicated that four or five Republicans were on board.

Since the Senate has so little time to deal with, an omnibus bill would likely be the last best option if members could reach a compromise on the problem. It’s possible that Congress won’t be able to debate major immigration reforms for at least another two years if they can’t reach an agreement.

Read More: In 2023, Where Do Sports Gambling And Medical Marijuana Stand In Kentucky?


Bipartisan antitrust legislation intended to increase oversight of the tech industry has also stalled in the legislature. Both proposals had bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee but have stalled in the upper house since; Blumenthal wants them included in the omnibus. The Open App Markets Act, sponsored by Senators Blumenthal,

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), seek to reduce app developers’ dependency on app stores operated by major technology corporations by allowing, for instance, Apple phone customers to obtain programs from other sources.

The offices of Blumenthal and Blackburn told Vox, “We are attempting to get the Open App Markets Act forward this year through all possible legislative channels.” The American Innovation and Choice Internet Act, proposed by Klobuchar and Grassley, would impose fines on major online platforms that give preference to their own services at the expense of those of their rivals.

For instance, Amazon can get criticized for favoring its own products over others on its shopping website. Antitrust legislation has been deemed important by the White House, but concerns have been raised by the IT industry that it may have unexpected consequences for data security.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in November, “We are absolutely committed to moving ambitious tech antitrust legislation and we are boosting up engagement during the lame duck on the President’s priorities across the board, including antitrust.” Both proposals have sufficient Republican support, according to their sponsors,

but neither has been scheduled for a vote on the floor of the legislature. When questioned by reporters on Wednesday about why this legislation has not yet moved ahead, Blumenthal said, “Big Tech is very powerful, loaded with lobbyists and lawyers that are incredibly enthusiastic and focused.”

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