Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
August 4, 2021

Senate action on the $1 trillion plus bipartisan infrastructure bill has slowed to a crawl as lawmakers haggle over more than 250 proposed amendments to the legislation.  In several instances, senators are holding their colleagues’ amendments hostage by objecting to voting on them unless their own priorities are also guaranteed a vote.  Senators had filed 281 amendments to the infrastructure package as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.  Many of the amendments stand no chance of passing.  For instance, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) proposed a 126-page substitute amendment that would have completely repealed Davis-Bacon wage requirements requiring federal contractors to pay laborers and mechanics no less than locally prevailing wages. It also would have cut the federal gas tax by more than 11 cents a gallon. Senators on both sides of the aisle quickly teamed up to defeat the amendment by a resounding 20-78 vote. Had it been adopted, the entire bipartisan deal would have collapsed under Democratic opposition.  However, after two days of voting on Monday and Tuesday, the Senate had processed only seven amendments, scuttling the possibility of getting the bill wrapped up before some senators plan to leave town to attend a memorial service for the late Senator Mike Enzi (R) in Wyoming on Friday.  The Senate will resume votes on “multiple” amendments to the plan on this afternoon.  Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) still aims to approve the final legislation this week, before he starts the process for Democrats to pass a separate $3.5 trillion investment in social programs and climate measures.  For this afternoon, The Senate will vote on Johnson amendment #2245 (border wall) set at a 60-vote threshold, Carper-Capito #2131 (strikes a definition) and a host of other amendments.

UPDATED WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET: Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.

WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Creates Good-Paying Jobs and Supports Workers.

While the infrastructure process plays out, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation this morning that would repeal the authorizations for the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq in a move that shows how far the two political parties have traveled on issues of war and the power to wage it.  The panel backed the legislation 14-8 with Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky joining Democrats in support of the measure. While the focus of the debate was on the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs for Iraq, some senators clearly had in mind a broader target: the 2001 authorization for military action in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That authorization aimed at al-Qaeda has been stretched by most successive administrations to justify action against other terrorist groups including Islamic State.  Majority Leader Schumer said he planned a vote this year. “The Iraq War has been over for nearly a decade. An authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021,” Schumer said as he opened the Senate on Wednesday morning.

The House remains on a combination of recess and committee work weeks until Monday, September 20th.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.