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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the Capitol on Tuesday. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The D.C. snowstorm and Omicron variant have crushed plans by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to begin the 2022 midterm year with a legislative flurry.

Why it matters: Congress has a long list of priorities that carried over from last year. Making progress on any of them would provide at least a campaign talking point. The problem is the new COVID variant and flight delays have left Capitol Hill a ghost town.

  • Road closures have canceled votes and other legislative activity for two days straight.
  • Wednesday's votes, the first of the week, also may be the last. Many members will be out of town Thursday for a memorial service honoring former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
  • Multiple Senate aides and reporters have also decided not to come into work because of the rapid spread of coronavirus in recent weeks.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a series of interviews he was stuck on I-95 for more than 27 hours after trying to get to D.C. on what is his usual 2-hour commute.

  • The legislative business he rushed to make on Tuesday ended up postponed.
  • The spike in the Omicron variant also forced Schumer to move Democrats' weekly in-person caucus lunches back to a virtual setting.
  • That robbed the party of the opportunity to hash out its differences in the same room after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blew up their chances of passing President Biden's Build Back Better package last month.

Between the lines: Schumer has a long list of legislation he sees as imperative to boosting Democrats' chances in the midterms.

  • He's tried to set definitive deadlines to instill urgency within the Senate before the summer recess ends meaningful legislative activity for the year.
  • Only a potential lame-duck session would remain.

The main biggest priorities on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are salvaging BBB to the degree possible and reforming Senate rules.

  • The specific question is whether to bring back the talking filibuster, as well as creating a one-time carve-out to bypass the filibuster and pass Democrats' voting-rights package.
  • Neither of those priorities seems to be in a good place right now, given fresh pushback from Manchin.

The latest:

Voting rights: Schumer says the Senate will vote on a package of Senate rules changes by Jan. 17 — less than two weeks away.

  • While Manchin said he's still talking with his colleagues, he isn't on board with a filibuster carve-out for voting rights — calling it "a heavy lift" — and isn't willing to go nuclear and eliminate the filibuster altogether.
  • "Once you change a rule, or you have a carve-out ... you eat the whole turkey," the senator told a COVID-thinned group of pool reporters on Tuesday.
  • He added that he would want any reform of Senate rules to have GOP buy-in — a long-shot to near impossible ask.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), also a key holdout to major filibuster reform, reiterated during the Democratic lunch she will not support any effort to get rid of the 60-vote threshold, according to two sources familiar with the call.

  • Sinema has been having one-on-one talks with her colleagues for weeks, one of the sources said.

Schumer was hosting a meeting Tuesday evening with Manchin and the other seven Senate Democrats who helped craft the Freedom to Vote Act.

  • The majority leader said earlier in the day: "Manchin has said all along he wants to work with Republicans, and we've all been very patient ... but I believe he knows we won't get any Republican cooperation."

Go deeper

Pence: "Tragic" Jan. 6 no reason to scrap filibuster

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called the Jan. 6 Capitol riot an attempt to "overturn results of the presidential election that had been certified by all 50 states."

Why it matters: Though the former vice president's op-ed in the Washington Post focuses on rebutting filibuster reforms, these are also the most public statements Pence has made about the post-election narrative and the attack as an effort to interfere with President Biden's victory.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.