Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
November 16, 2021

After a Monday that saw President Joe Biden sign The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the House and Senate resume work faced with a long list to complete before the holiday break.

House Democrats on Monday inched closer to a pre-Thanksgiving vote on President Biden’s sweeping social benefits and climate package, as Congress’s official scorekeeper issued new cost estimates demanded by a group of centrist holdouts and party leaders charged ahead with plans to bring the legislation to the floor before the weekend.  The two new fiscal reports, released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), detailed only portions of the massive $1.75 trillion legislation. But they were accompanied by the announcement that the CBO also intends to wrap up its full budget-impact analysis by day’s end on Friday — a quicker timeline than previously suggested, and one raising the prospects that the House will move the measure this week.  When Democratic leaders intend to bring the larger package to the floor remains unclear. The House is scheduled to leave Washington for a long Thanksgiving recess on Thursday — a day before the CBO has promised to deliver a full accounting of the legislation.  Some Democrats are already calling for leadership to extend the calendar to accommodate the budget office with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) herself saying the House will remain in session until the legislation is passed.

The Senate reconvened at 10 A.M. and is working on the nominations of Graham Scott Steele to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Farrell Bonnie to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation and Brian Eddie Nelson to be Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes.  Yesterday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) took the first procedural step toward beginning debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, teeing up what’s normally a lengthy floor debate on the defense bill that must occur before the Senate can vote on it.  Lawmakers in both parties have been clamoring for Senate action for months although differences between the Senate and House versions still must be resolved.  Also under consideration is Leader Schumer adding the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which has stalled in the House, to the legislation. That bill aims to boost U.S. competitiveness with China. Adding it now would enable negotiation with the House to be completed alongside the NDAA before the end of the year.  Leader Schumer said he will also put the repeal of the authorizations for the use of military force for Iraq on the floor as an amendment to the NDAA. It’s expected to clear the 60-vote threshold, with around a dozen Republicans voting with all Democrats.

For today, the House will convene at 12:00 P.M. and take up thirteen bills under suspension of the Rules, including H.R. 4591 – VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.