Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
September 29, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Wednesday said the stonewalling by Senate centrists has disrupted the Democrats’ timeline for moving President Biden’s domestic agenda, leaving open the possibility that the House will punt once again on an infrastructure vote scheduled for Thursday.  The Speaker said she still intends to stage the infrastructure vote on Thursday, but acknowledged she may have to delay it, if need be. Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus say over half the group is prepared to vote against the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the larger social spending bill moves in tandem which will ensure the bill does not pass.  Although the House Budget Committee has already approved a blueprint for the larger social spending bill the Senate moderates balking at the $3.5 trillion price tag have stalled progress on the broader two-pronged agenda and have refused to say what top line number they would be willing to accept, essentially halting negotiations.

While this is playing out, the Senate plans to take up the continuing resolution to fund the government through December 3rd as soon as today.  This clean continuing resolution does not include an increase in the debt ceiling and Congress has until October 18th to raise the debt limit or face a historic and catastrophic default, according to a letter this week from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.  In spite of that, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday vowed that Democrats “cannot and will not” raise the nation’s borrowing limit as part of the sweeping spending bill using reconciliation.  Republicans previously blocked a House-passed bill on Monday that would suspend the debt ceiling through 2022 and fund the government until December 3rd and  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also blocked an effort by Schumer on Tuesday to bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

This afternoon, the House will vote on the rule for a measure to extend the debt limit through December 16, 2022.  After some speculation that the House might not vote on a standalone measure to raise the federal government’s borrowing authority, it now appears that the House will advance the measure and earlier today, the House Rules Committee approved a rule by a vote of 7-3 related to the measure.  The bill will be debated and ready for a vote in the full House as soon as afternoon, but will almost certainly be blocked by Senate Republicans in the upper chamber.  Raising or suspending the debt ceiling does not authorize new federal spending, but rather allows the Treasury to honor debts already incurred during the Trump and Biden administrations. Even if the Biden administration had passed no new spending initiatives in 2021, lawmakers would still have to raise or suspend the ceiling.

The House will also consider as many as twelve bills under suspension of the Rules, including H.R. 4611, DHS Software Supply Chain Risk Management Act of 2021.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.