Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
September 13, 2021

The Senate reconvenes at 3:00 p.m. with a substantial to do list for September, including voting rights, funding the government, raising the debt ceiling, the must-pass defense bills, an abortion fight in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Texas decision and high-profile hearings today and tomorrow over the Biden administration’s messy Afghanistan withdrawal.  Much of the focus this week will be on President Joe Biden’s two-part infrastructure package, which includes the roughly $1 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure bill and the yet-to-be-finalized $3.5 trillion Democratic-only bill that would include top Democratic priorities including combating climate change, expanding Medicare and immigration reform.  Senate Democratic leadership has set a deadline of Wednesday for Senate committees to be finished drafting the bill and for House Democrats to be finished with committee votes on the various pieces of the proposal.  Further, House Democrats want to pass the $3.5 trillion bill by the end of month to sync up with a September 27th self-imposed deadline for a vote on the smaller infrastructure deal that passed the Senate last month.  As Democrats continue to haggle over the final price tag, House Democrats will continue debating and voting on individual pieces of the bill.  The House Agriculture, Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees will meet today to vote on their parts of the bill and the House Ways & Means and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees will meet on Tuesday.

Senior House Democrats are coalescing around a legislative proposal that could raise as much as $2.9 trillion to pay for most of President Biden’s sweeping expansion of the social safety net by increasing taxes on the wealthiest corporations and individuals.  The preliminary proposal, which is being circulated, would raise the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent for the richest businesses and impose an additional surtax on individuals who make more than $5 million.  The legislation that was introduced includes a 3% surcharge on individual income above $5 million and a capital gains tax of 25%.  Ways and Means Section by Section.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday over the administration’s Afghanistan exit strategy.   The two hearings will be the first time an administration official has testified publicly since last month, when the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan. The hearings are expected to be the start of a lengthy inquiry from lawmakers over how the administration underestimated the Taliban and overestimated the Afghan government and military.  The Senate Armed Services Committee will also have a closed-door briefing on Wednesday on “recent developments” in Afghanistan with General Austin Scott Miller, the former Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

For today, when the Senate reconvenes it will consider the nomination of James Richard Kvaal to be Under Secretary of Education.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.