Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
October 12, 2021

The House will reconvene from its Columbus Day recess briefly today to pass a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to enable the Treasury to continue borrowing money to pay the bills for two months.  The measure, the product of a last-minute deal struck in the Senate, offers only a temporary reprieve, and it is likely to set up another round of fighting in early December.  The legislation is expected to pass the house after it narrowly cleared the 60-vote threshold to pass the Senate on Thursday and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it soon after.  The deal would set a new deadline of December 3rd to hit the debt ceiling again, however Treasury would most likely have some wiggle room beyond that to continue meeting obligations.  After the Senate vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) sent a letter Friday telling President Joe Biden that he “will not be a party to any future effort” to resolve the debt ceiling problem, insisting that Democrats use the more circuitous budget reconciliation process, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and numerous other Democratic senators have firmly ruled out.

As Congress firms up a brief reprieve on the debt ceiling, negotiations continue on the $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said late Monday that members of the House have told her “overwhelmingly” that they would prefer to do “fewer things well” when it comes to the Democrats’ massive $3.5 trillion social spending plan, indicating that she is preparing to make some concessions in order to pass the package.  “In order to pass both the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill on time, it is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon,” Pelosi said in a brief “Dear Colleague” letter.  As The New York Times noted, if the funds for certain measures continue to shrink, Democrats will have to begin picking and choosing which social spending measures to prioritize.

For today, the House will meet at 3:00 P.M. to vote on the debt ceiling extension, Temporary Extension of Public Debt Limit, as well as three bills under suspension of the Rules.  The Senate remains in recess until Monday, October 18th at which time it will resume work on the nomination of Christine P. O’Hearn, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.