Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
November 3, 2021

House Democrats have amended the social spending framework which makes up President Joe Biden’s economic agenda to include paid family leave, a popular provision that had met resistance from Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and was thought to be removed from the package.  The change was announced Wednesday morning in a letter from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who said the Rules Committee would meet later in the day in a hearing to consider the changes.  But Pelosi stopped short of announcing a Rules Committee vote on the package, which would indicate that House leaders were poised to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.  Instead, the Speaker said there remain “a few” outstanding issues yet to be resolved, which would prevent the legislation from passing through the Senate in its current form. And because Speaker Pelosi has vowed not to force House lawmakers to vote on anything that can’t win 50 votes in the Senate, she’s waiting for negotiators to iron out those remaining differences before the full House will consider the bill. The negotiators made significant progress on Tuesday, with breakthrough agreements on efforts to curb prescription drug costs and provide a tax break to those living in high-income parts of the country.  House Democrats are coalescing around a plan that would delay the state and local tax deduction cap (SALT), for five years.  The plan, still to be finalized, would lift the cap from years 2021-2025 and then go back in place from 2026-2031.

As the social infrastructure package remains in flux, a group of House Democratic moderates have several key demands, including a score on how much of the bill will be paid for, if leadership wants them to vote for the $1.75 trillion social spending plan.  Five centrists signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday, more than the three votes she can afford to lose. Pelosi and her leadership team have said they want to vote on the bill by week’s end, but the moderates’ demands could throw that timeline into flux.  Some of the moderates who signed the letter have said they need an official score from Congressional Budget Office, while others have said a detailed analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation could be enough.  The group is also asking for assurances that the social spending plan will pass muster with the Senate’s byzantine budget rules, through a process known as “pre-conferencing” and they want 72 hours for members to read and review the bill before the vote.  The signers of the letter include Representatives Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida).

The Senate is expected to vote on the nominations of Benjamin Harris to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Isobel Coleman to be a Deputy Administrator of the USAID, Jeffrey M. Prieto to be an Assistant Administrator of EPA and Rajesh D. Nayak to be an Assistant Secretary of Labor.  Also today, Republicans blocked the Senate from starting debate on a voting rights bill named after the late Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia)- S.4, John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021, marking the latest setback for Democrats in their push for new elections legislation.  Senators voted 50-49 on whether to bring up the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Vice President Kamala Harris presided over part of the vote.   Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) voted no, a procedural step that lets him bring the bill back up in the future for another vote.

The House will take up eleven bills under suspension of the Rules, including a resolution expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.