Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
August 11, 2021

After a 69-30 bipartisan vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, Democrats pushed a $3.5 trillion framework for bolstering family services, health, and environment programs through the Senate early Wednesday morning, advancing President Joe Biden’s expansive vision for reshaping federal priorities just hours after handing him a companion triumph on a hefty infrastructure package.  Senators approved Democrats’ budget resolution on a party-line 50-49 vote, a crucial step for a president and party and pushed forward on using the government’s fiscal might at assisting families, creating jobs and fighting climate change. Higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations would pay for much of it. Passage came despite an avalanche of Republican amendments intended to make their rivals take politically tough votes.  The Senate had held more than 40 votes by the time it approved the measure at around 4 a.m., more than 14 hours after the vote-a-rama began.  Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) announced the House will take a brief interruption from its seven-week recess to open consideration of the budget resolution on August 23rd.  Leader Hoyer did not specify how long the House would be in session, simply saying that lawmakers “will remain in session until our business for the week is concluded.” The House is also expected to consider a voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia.) during that time.  The Senate now stands adjourned for August recess and will convene periodically for pro forma sessions, the first being 9:30 a.m. on Friday, August 13th.  The Senate is next scheduled to convene for votes on Monday, September 13th.

Remarks by President Biden on the Senate Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The House also needs to pass a budget resolution. Then congressional committees will take weeks to write a bill that both chambers of Congress can pass using the reconciliation process, which would require votes only from the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus.  With legislation of this magnitude, the process will likely take months — and could get derailed several times along the way. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has said she will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill or the final Democratic spending package until the Senate passes both of them. A spokesman for the speaker said Wednesday that her strategy has not changed after the Senate approved the infrastructure plan and the budget resolution.  Speaker Pelosi has faced pressure from some Democrats, including those in the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, to vote separately to pass the infrastructure plan. She has tied the two packages together to keep her whole caucus on board, as centrists grow wary of additional spending and progressives say the bipartisan plan is inadequate.

This afternoon, the President will deliver remarks on his Build Back Better agenda that will lower costs for working families, generate economic growth, and create jobs and will also meet virtually with Governors, Mayors, and other state, local, and tribal officials to discuss the importance of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  The speech comes after Biden marked a major step toward getting one of his most ambitious legislative goals passed, and one of the most substantial legislative packages in decades.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.