Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 3, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) confirmed this morning that he has reached an agreement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) on the organizing resolution for operation of the 50-50 Senate.  The new power-sharing agreement is modeled after the organizing resolution from 2001, the last time there was a 50/50 Senate.  Schumer already announced the new Democratic committee chairs yesterday, including Senator Bernie Sanders, (I-Vermont), as chair of the Budget Committee; Senator Joe Manchin, (D-West Virginia), as Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Senator Gary Peters, (D-Michigan), as leader of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, as the head of the Judiciary Committee.  The full list of committee assignments for Senate Democrats in the 117 Congress is here.

The Senate voted to move forward with debate Tuesday on a budget blueprint that will set the stage for filibuster-proof passage of a massive coronavirus relief package.  The 50-49 vote opens debate on the Democrats’ budget resolution, which would carve out room for up to $1.9 trillion in additional deficit spending, as proposed by President Joe Biden, on top of $3.5 trillion enacted last year.  The Senate budget plan includes reconciliation instructions to 11 authorizing committees to write their portions of a bill based on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package.  By its nature, reconciliation could be considered a bipartisan process and Senators get two “vote-a-rama” opportunities: during the budget resolution debate and again during the reconciliation floor debate. Amendments are limited only in that they need to be germane to the underlying measure, and if they propose more spending than the budget allows for, offsets need to be added.

The Senate will also continue work on the following nominations:

-9:30 a.m.: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will vote on the nomination of Gina Raimondo to be Commerce secretary.

-10 a.m. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will have a markup to vote on the nomination of Jennifer Granholm to be Energy secretary

-10 a.m. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will separately have a hearing on the nomination of Miguel Cardona to be Education secretary.

-10:30 a.m.: The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will have a hearing on the nomination of Isabella Guzman to be administrator of the SBA.

-2 p.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will have a hearing on the nomination of Michael Regan to be administrator of the EPA.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is now having its hearing on Biden’s U.N. nominee, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on Thursday rather than Wednesday.

The House will meet at 1:00 p.m. for legislative business and will continue work on H.Con.Res. 11 –“ Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030.”   After passing a budget measure in a 216-210 vote Tuesday night, work will begin in a dozen House committees under that chamber’s reconciliation instructions. Those panels have until February 16th  to deliver their recommendations to the House Budget Committee, which will bundle them into one package with the plan of getting the COVID relief package passed in both chambers and signed into law by March 14th.

The House will now vote Thursday on a resolution to strip GOP Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments and the Rules Committee will meet on the Rule at 3 pm today.  The move comes amid resounding criticism against Greene for a series of extreme remarks she made prior to winning her congressional seat, and mounting pressure on Republican leaders to censure or condemn those comments.  House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-California), met with Greene on Tuesday evening in his Capitol office. He offered no immediate comment following the discussion.  Leader Hoyer said “I spoke to Leader McCarthy this morning, and it is clear there is no alternative to holding a Floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments.  The Rules Committee will meet this afternoon, and the House will vote on the resolution tomorrow.”

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.