Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
September 22, 2021

The House on Tuesday passed legislation that would prevent a government shutdown, funding the government until December 3rd and which will suspend the debt limit ahead of looming deadlines with only days to spare.  The bill passed on a party-line vote of 220-211, but the measure is set to run into Republican opposition in the Senate where at least 10 Republicans would need to join with all Democrats for passage.  Nearly every Republican senator has said that they will oppose a debt limit suspension, arguing that Democrats should instead act on their own through the budget reconciliation process that can circumvent a filibuster and is being used for the $3.5 trillion social spending package.  Democrats are nonetheless attaching the debt limit suspension through December 16, 2022, to the must-pass bill to avoid a government shutdown on October 1 in an attempt to pressure Republicans to drop their threats. Democrats could eventually opt to remove the debt limit from the stopgap spending bill which would likely ensure the bipartisan passage of the government funding measure and then raise the debt ceiling using a fast-track process that bypasses the filibuster, removing the need for GOP votes.

While this is playing out, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) have to unite their caucus’s progressives and moderates over what’s now a $3.5 trillion bill to expand social spending, paid for in part with tax increases.  Speaker Pelosi has also promised a September 27th vote on the bipartisan $550 billion infrastructure plan, which has already passed the Senate.  President Biden is expected to host a series of meetings on Wednesday with Democratic lawmakers, including party leaders, as he works to smooth over deep divisions within his party about his multi-trillion-dollar domestic agenda.  In a series of Oval Office meetings throughout the day, Mr. Biden is expected to visit with the two top Democrats at 2 P.M., Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer and separately with lawmakers from across the ideological range of his party after that.  The lawmakers invited to negotiate with Mr. Biden in the Oval Office on Wednesday at 3:30 include centrist Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Mike Thompson of California and Stephanie Murphy of Florida as well as the two most watched Democratic members of the Senate, centrist Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, will also attend this meeting.  Later in the day, the President will meet with Progressives including Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who is demanding the Senate vote on the big House budget bill before she and her fellow progressives will come together to pass the infrastructure bill in the House.  Biden will also speak with several of the most influential progressives in the Senate: Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders ( I-Vermont), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, (D-Oregon), and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Washington).

For today, the House will continue work on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.  The Rule provides for no further general debate and makes in order 476 amendments and allows for amendments to be offered en bloc.  A full list of amendments can be found here.

The Senate convened at 10:00 A.M. and is considering the nominations of Lily Lawrence Batchelder to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Jayme Ray White to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative and Florence Y. Pan to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.