Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
September 24, 2021

House Democrats are hoping to vote next week on both pieces of President Joe Biden’s far-reaching domestic agenda: a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a much larger social benefits package, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced Friday.  In a Dear Colleague to Democrats distributed today, the Speaker stopped short of guaranteeing both votes next week but laid out the steps “as we move forward to pass two jobs bills next week.”  Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky) has released the text of the Build Back Better Act and the Rules Committee will take the Build Back Better Act up after the Budget Committee completes its mark-up tomorrow, Saturday, starting at 2 P.M.  The strategy is intended to break the stubborn impasse between the warring factions of the House Democratic Caucus by meeting the demands of both moderates, who have insisted on a standalone infrastructure vote by Monday and liberals who were prepared to sink the public works bill unless the larger infrastructure package was passed in tandem.  It remains unclear if the House and Senate negotiations on the larger package which are designed to arrive at an agreeable top-line spending number are far enough along to allow the House to vote on the package before October.  It’s also unclear if the infrastructure bill will receive a vote on Monday, as Speaker Pelosi has promised moderates, or if it will slip to later in the week to allow the larger reconciliation package to work its way to completion.

The Senate is not in session today, and will reconvene at 3:00 P.M. on Monday to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R.5305, the continuing resolution to December 3rd.  The Senate is expected to vote around 5:30 P.M. on a key procedural motion to advance the temporary government funding bill that includes a suspension of the debt ceiling, however the vote has not been locked in by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).  Republicans in the chamber plan to block the closely watched measure, which needs 60 votes to succeed, because they oppose the debt limit provision.  The vote will take place just days before the government could run out of money at the end of the month and Democrats must then determine their next steps. They could allow the government to shut down and try to blame Republicans or they could strip out the debt ceiling from the bill and pass it with GOP support, which is expected once the debt provision is removed.

The Senate will also begin work on five State Department nominations starting on Monday.

This morning, the House passed H.R. 3755 – Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 which is a response to a Texas law that essentially bans abortion after six weeks, before most people realize they are pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the law from taking effect, although the decision leaves the door open for future challenges.  The bill passed the House mainly along party lines, 218-211, with one Democrat voting with Republicans. The vote was largely symbolic as the bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate, where 10 Republicans and all Democrats would need to back the bill in order to meet the 60-vote threshold.  The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, has 47 co-sponsors, although it’s unlikely to garner the support of Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, who has previously consistently voted for abortion restrictions, and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

The House will reconvene for votes at 6:30 P.M. on Monday.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.