Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
October 1, 2021

The House remained in session overnight, after House Democratic Leadership postponed the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill because of a progressive blockade after days of increasingly bitter feuding among liberal and moderate factions in the party.  Members were sent home and told there would be no further votes until Friday morning which served to prevent the rule that set up floor consideration for the infrastructure bill from expiring and caused the House to remain in Thursday’s legislative day to appease moderate Democrats who held fast to the promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) for a Thursday vote.

For today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) announced that House Democrats will hold a second closed-door caucus meeting at 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon amid the standoff in the party, with President Joe Biden attending.  A closed-door meeting called by Speaker Pelosi on Friday morning did little to resolve the disputes, as lawmakers from swing districts pleaded for passage of the infrastructure bill and liberals in safe Democratic seats insisted that they would not vote yes until the Senate passed the ambitious climate change and social safety net measure.  The House is scheduled to leave town again today for a long two-week recess, raising questions about whether Democratic leaders will alter the calendar and keep lawmakers in town to vote on Biden’s agenda if a deal is reached in the coming days.  The House may also take up a 30-day extension of surface transportation programs that expired with the end of the fiscal year on Thursday, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) confirmed.

Progressive members have reiterated demands that the reconciliation package, which is expected to unlock funding for party-backed items such as universal prekindergarten and tuition-free community college, must be passed before the physical infrastructure plan is brought to the floor. Despite some progress in the talks with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) on Thursday night, neither liberals nor progressives seemed to think there’s time to reach a sweeping agreement on reconciliation quickly enough to win the progressives’ support for an infrastructure vote on Friday.  The Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement prior to a meeting of House Democrats on Friday that they still would prefer a Senate vote on a reconciliation bill before the House votes on the bipartisan infrastructure measure.  This will continue to develop and play out over the course of today and likely into the weekend.

President Biden signed a spending bill on Thursday evening that extends federal funding through early December and provides emergency aid to support both the resettlement of Afghan refugees and disaster recovery efforts across the country.  The president’s signature came after lawmakers hastily cleared the measure in both chambers earlier in the day.  The Senate’s vote was 65 to 35; the House’s was 254 to 175.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.