Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
August 6, 2021

The Senate will be in recess today as a number of senators travel to Wyoming for the memorial service for the late Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) at the Gillette College Pronghorn Center.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) set up a pivotal vote on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan for Saturday, after marathon talks to wrap up the bill on Thursday night fell apart.  Senators in both parties spent the entire day assembling a package of amendments for consideration that could grease the wheels to final passage, but Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee) refused to sign off under intense lobbying from his Republican colleagues. “I was asked to consent to expedite the process and pass it. I could not, in good conscience, allow that to happen at this hour especially when the objective of the majority is to hurry up and pass this bill so that they can move quickly to their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree,” Hagerty said in a statement.  Leader Schumer said the Democratic majority encountered “numerous objections” to finalizing a list of amendments and wrapping up the bill more quickly. Now the Senate will take the effort back up on Saturday, when the bill’s backers must overcome a filibuster to begin ending debate and the legislation will need 60 votes, and at least 10 Republicans, to advance.  Issues began on Thursday afternoon when a nonpartisan budget analysis was released by the Congressional Budget Office, a key development for Republicans studying the bill’s financing. But that score ended up working against quick completion.  The CBO calculated that nearly half of the new spending — $256 billion — would be financed by adding to the nation’s debt from 2021 to 2031, contradicting the claims of Republican and Democratic proponents that the measure would fully pay for itself.  In a statement defending the bipartisan bill after the word that it would worsen the nation’s debt, two of its leading authors, Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, insisted that there were $519 billion in offsets, which would leave only a tiny fraction to be financed by deficit spending.  In addition to the CBO score the last few last sticking points that are slowing down a final deal, are a push by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and other Republicans to add roughly $50 billion in defense infrastructure into the bill.  Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) were also battling with Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) over cryptocurrency policy, with competing amendments over who would be exempt from the bill’s tax provisions.

Leader Schumer wants the Senate to pass both the bipartisan package and a budget blueprint for the bigger proposal before senators depart for an August recess next week.  Leader Schumer is privately telling his members that they should expect more votes on election reform legislation before the end of the work period as well.

This morning, President Biden delivered remarks on the strong July jobs report, which showed the US economy added 943,000 jobs last month.  The president noted that this morning’s report makes the Biden administration the first administration in US history to add jobs every month of its first six months since taking office.  Hiring rose in July at its fastest pace in nearly a year despite fears over COVID-19′s delta variant and as companies struggled with a tight labor supply, the Labor Department reported Friday.  Nonfarm payrolls increased by 943,000 for the month while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Senate will reconvene at 11:00 a.m. Saturday and the House remains in a combination of recess and committee work weeks until Monday, September 20th.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.