NSDC Federal Legislative Update

Week of August 2, 2021
The House is in recess this week while the Senate is in session.

The Senate will spend the remainder of this week voting on amendments to the 2,702-page, five-year Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes a full surface transportation reauthorization bill, in addition to funding for the electric grid, broadband, water infrastructure, resiliency and western water storage, environmental remediation, and more. The legislation totals around $1.2 trillion, with roughly $550 billion constituting new federal spending and the rest coming from existing, planned investments in roads, highways, and bridges.

The mammoth bill includes about $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges; $73 billion for power grid upgrades; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $65 billion for broadband expansion; $55 billion for water infrastructure; $50 billion for resiliency and western water storage; $39 billion for public transit; $25 billion for airports; $17 billion for ports and waterways; $15 billion for electric vehicles; $11 billion for road safety; and $1 billion for a new “Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.” Several senators are calling for an open amendment process, which could lead to dozens of votes over the next several days. Senators of both parties said they expected the legislation ultimately would pass without major changes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday evening that “Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days.” However, the legislative process in the Senate is likely to drag into early next week, since it is unclear how many amendments there will be, or what changes they could cause in the legislation.

Once the Senate passes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the chamber will immediately begin consideration of a $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution during the week of August 9 before leaving Washington for the chamber’s scheduled summer recess. The budget resolution is intended to unlock the 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus’s ability to pass an expansive economic package, which will incorporate large swaths of President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobsand Families Plans, to address climate change, health care and education. The FY22 budget resolution is expected to pass with just Democratic votes. Once the Senate passes the FY22 budget resolution, the House will likely return to Washington quickly to pass it, which will allow House and Senate committees the ability to begin work on their parts of the package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated last week that the House will notvote on a Senate-passed infrastructure bill until the Senate has also passed a budget reconciliation package (following adoption of the FY22 budget resolution), which very likely won’t happen until October at the earliest. This means that the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation package won’t be enacted into law until mid-late fall. 

On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Military Construction—Veterans Affairs and Agriculture—FDA—Rural Development will hold markups of their FY 2022 Appropriations bills. On Wednesday, the full Appropriations Committee will markup and pass these two spending bills, in addition to the FY 2022 Energy—Water Development Appropriations bill. Lists of the approved “Congressionally Directed Spending” requests (i.e., earmarks) for each of the three spending bills, submitted by senators in mid-June, should be made publicly available by the Committee no later than Wednesday. None of the bills are expected to make it to the Senate floor before lawmakers leave for their summer break. Once senators leave, they won’t return until September 13. Congress faces a September 30 deadline to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. Given the time crunch, the House and Senate are likely to use a continuing resolution, which extends last year's funding levels, until at least closer to the end of the year.

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th congressional districts will head to the polls to vote in special primary elections to pick the Democratic and Republican nominees for the November 2 special House elections to decide the successors for former Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), respectively. 
Last Week
Senate moves to debate on infrastructure as bill takes shape  READ MORE

Democrats say they have the votes to advance $3.5T budget measure READ MORE

House passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fightREAD MORE

House passes first $67B in funding bills amid bid to bolster government spending READ MORE

Biden signs bill to fund Capitol security, Afghan visas

Bill to Protect Firefighters from Hazardous PFAS Chemicals Passes Senate READ MORE

Senate confirms Todd Kim for DOJ environment chief 

Senate confirms Ur Jaddou to head immigration agency READ MORE

U.S. Senate approves union lawyers to NLRB, giving Democrats control READ MORE

Eviction moratorium expires as renters face rising covid cases and lack of aid READ MORE

Pelosi turns tables on White House, urges eviction ban extensionREAD MORE

Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections in first step for clean water regulations READ MORE

White House forms working groups to target heat, wildfires READ MORE 

Biden Seeks to Revive Vaccine Effort With New Rules and IncentivesREAD MORE

Biden calls on states and localities to offer $100 vaccine incentivesREAD MORE

CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas READ MORE

‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe 

Federal Reserve Keeps Rates Unchanged but Cites ‘Progress’ Toward Goals READ MORE

U.S. Can Expedite Removal of Migrant Families, Biden Administration Says READ MORE

GOP’s Jake Ellzey wins US House seat over Trump-backed rival READ MORE

Week of July 26, 2021
The House and Senate are in session this week.

The House will consider 21 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 2485), which requires that all Congressionally mandated reports be posted on a central public website; and the Senate-passed Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021 (S. 272), which requires that budget justification documents prepared by federal agencies be posted online and listed on a central website.

For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on a $617 billion package combining seven Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations bills, including Labor—Health and Human Services—Education, Agriculture—Rural Development, Energy—Water Development, Financial Services—General Government, Interior—Environment, Military Construction—Veterans Affairs, and Transportation—Housing and Urban Development. The House may also consider three additional FY 2022 spending bills on a stand-alone basis: the $4.8 billion Legislative BranchAppropriations bill (H.R. 4346), the $62.2 billion State—Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 4373), and the $81.3 billion Commerce—Justice—Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 4505). These ten FY 2022 spending bills include thousands of “Community Project Funding” (i.e., earmark) requests submitted by rank-and-file House members in April and approved by the House Appropriations Committee in June and July. The only two remaining FY 2022 spending bills that won’t be considered in the House until later this year are the $706 billion Defense and $76 billion Homeland Security spending bills. Congress has until September 30 to pass new government funding prior to the beginning of FY 2022 on October 1 and the House and Senate are expected to pass a short-term funding bill (i.e., a Continuing Resolution), likely lasting through early December 2021, to avoid a government shutdown.

The Senate will vote on several nominations made by President Joe Biden, including Todd Kim to be Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Several Senate committees will be voting this week to advance important Biden nominations to key posts, including: Rob Santos to be Director of the Census Bureau; Ed Gonzalez to be DHS’ Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Jennifer Moffitt to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Senate committees will also be holding hearings for nominees, including: former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development; and Robert Bonnie to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation.

The 22 senators negotiating the eight-year, $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (including $579 billion in new spending) are seeking to finish negotiations early this week. To speed discussions toward a conclusion, the White House and Democrats on Sunday evening made a “global offer” to Senate Republicans aimed at covering all outstanding issues. On Monday morning, it was reported that “[Senate] Republicans appear to be rejecting that [global] offer, arguing that it goes back on details that had already been agreed to by the bipartisan group during their weeks of closed-door negotiations.” The primary unresolved issues include funding for highways and bridges, water, broadband, transit, the creation of an infrastructure bank and how much unspent COVID relief money from 2020 can be used to pay for infrastructure, among other controversial items. A pending five-week break scheduled to begin August 6 is motivating the 22-member bipartisan group to end negotiations over components of their plan after Republicans spurned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s deadline for action last Wednesday. Leader Schumer has left the door open to be able to quickly bring up whether to start debate for a second vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package later this week, if the bipartisan group is able to get a deal finalized soon.

On Tuesday, voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District (which includes the suburbs of Dallas—Fort Worth) head to the polls to vote in a special House runoff election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX), who died in early February 2021 from COVID. Two Republican candidates made it to the special runoff election, Susan Wright and state representative Jake Ellzey, which ensures that the House GOP minority will soon increase in size from 211 to 212 seats. The House Democratic majority, currently numbering 220 seats, will soon only be able to lose up to 3 votes to pass any legislation (in the event all 212 House Republicans vote against a particular bill). 
Last Week
GOP blocks Schumer’s cloture motion on infrastructure package READ MORE

With bipartisan infrastructure talks in limbo, progressives eye $4.1T ‘silver lining’ READ MORE

House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water READ MORE

House Passes 13 Bipartisan Homeland Security Bills, Including Cybersecurity Grant Program READ MORE

House passes bill to revive FTC authority to recover money for consumers READ MORE

House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US READ MORE

Biden signs crime victims fund replenishment bill READ MORE

Earmarks snag could threaten Senate appropriations markups READ MORE

Senate confirms former CCO Kenneth Polite to lead DOJ’s Criminal Division READ MORE

Senate Confirms Biden Nominee Jennifer Abruzzo as NLRB General Counsel, Paving Way for Pro-Union Shift READ MORE

State, local officials distributed just 6.5 percent of rental aid in first half of year READ MORE

Yellen urges lawmakers to act on debt limit in September READ MORE

Exclusive: White House details environmental justice plans READ MORE

Not Out of the Woods’: C.D.C. Issues Warning to the UnvaccinatedREAD MORE

White House boosts funding for Covid tests as infections continue to surge READ MORE

White House officials debate masking push as covid infections spikeREAD MORE

Biden’s surgeon general backs localized mask mandates as delta variant drives rise in covid tests READ MORE

CDC exploring options to get additional coronavirus doses for the immunocompromised READ MORE

Biden says Fed ‘should take whatever steps it deems necessary’ to respond to inflation READ MORE

States Announces $26 Billion Settlement to Resolve Opioid LawsuitsREAD MORE

New Aid Coming for Mortgage Borrowers at Risk of Foreclosure READ MORE