Infrastructure – Members of the Senate’s bipartisan working group are conferring with several Senate committees, including Commerce, Finance, Environment and Public Works, and Energy and Natural Resources, to develop more specifics on their infrastructure framework, especially on pay-fors. The White House has promised to propose alternatives to, among other ideas, indexing the gas tax to inflation and fees on electric vehicles.
With 21 Senators now agreeing to a deal in principle, the likelihood of a potential infrastructure bill has increased. However, high hurdles remain. Senate progressives are saying “no deal” without significant spending on climate change and so-called “human” infrastructure.
With 11 Republicans committed to the outline right now, Democrats can only lose one of their own. If a final agreement is secured with the White House, President Biden will have to sell it to keep Senate Democrats unified. Similarly, Republican members of the gang may have to produce 9 to 19 Republican votes to negate lost votes on the other side of the aisle. Don’t be surprised if those members make specific demands as the price for their support—demands that could surely upset an already delicate balance.
Despite deadlines proffered by the White House, the seemingly endless logrolling and cajoling of other senators could extend well into July, not least because the Senate leaves for a two-week recess on Thursday.
House Republicans have thus far been observing the Senate’s back-and-forth from the sidelines—and doing so with skepticism. Meanwhile, House progressive lawmakers see the bipartisan deal as a non-starter without guarantees of spending trillions more on a future reconciliation bill. As Speaker Pelosi recently stated, “we know that one bill is not going to do it for us.”
On a separate track, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Senate Budget Committee continue to negotiate topline numbers for a FY2022 budget resolution that will include reconciliation instructions. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) favors a $6 trillion spending package, with $2.5 trillion worth of pay-fors coming from the Senate Finance Committee, $185 billion from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and $500 billion from the Environment and Public Works Committee. That would put overall spending at $2 trillion more than what President Biden has proposed.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a member of both the Senate Budget Committee and the bipartisan infrastructure gang, could be pivotal to forging a compromise. Every member of the Senate Budget Committee will need to support the budget resolution. Any delay in Warner’s support, or other Budget Committee members, could slow down Schumer’s timeline for reconciliation. House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) wants to vote on a budget resolution the week of July 12, and then have the full House advance the measure the week of July 19.
China – House Republicans this week are focusing on China and COVID-19. They will release legislation holding China accountable for its dilatory response to the pandemic and lack of transparency about the Wuhan lab, now widely alleged to be the progenitor of the coronavirus.
This morning, Minority Leader McCarthy sent a letter to House Republicans outlining eight pillars of the package, which includes declassifying information related to the origins of COVID-19, imposing economic sanctions and visa restrictions, and waiving Chinese sovereign immunity so that families of COVID-19 victims could file suit against the Chinese government.
In addition, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is announcing this week that “Big Tech and China” will be a new pillar of the Big Tech Accountability Platform, sponsored by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Under the new pillar, committee Republicans will push Big Tech companies to improve the transparency of American data going to China, strengthen the vetting of mobile applications, and address the sale of counterfeit goods coming from China.
ESG Legislation – Last week, the House passed H.R. 1187, the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act, by a 215 to 214 vote. The bill would require public companies to disclose environmental, social and governance criteria. In what would normally be considered a routine matter for the current majority, Speaker Pelosi instead had to vote to break a tie after four Democrats broke ranks by voting ‘no’. With a razor-thin majority, the difficulty surrounding this vote—on a core issue for Democrats no less—doesn’t augur well for Pelosi and her lieutenants.
House Republicans – Before the end of this work period, we expect House Republicans to roll out the members of their six policy task forces. As a reminder, these task forces will be developing legislative proposals that can be utilized if and when Republican votes are needed, or as a policy platform should Republicans regain the majority next Congress. The task forces will cover: Jobs/Economy; Big Tech Censorship; Energy/Climate/Conservation; Domestic Security; Health; and China.
While no date has been announced for a steering committee meeting, we also expect Republicans to announce before the end of this work period which Member of Congress will be filling the vacant seat on the House Financial Services Committee. The seat was opened when Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) retired last month.
Senate Floor this Week – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used Senate Rule 14 to bypass the Senate Rules Committee to force a floor action on the “For the People Act” this week. Leader Schumer will hold a procedural vote Tuesday on the bill. Senate Republicans are unanimously opposed to the bill, leaving only the question of whether any Democrats (e.g., Manchin) will oppose cloture on the motion to proceed.
Leader Schumer also filed cloture on the following nominations: Christopher Fonzone to be General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Kiran Ahuja to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management. It remains to be seen when Senate Democrats will start the “motion-to- discharge” process for Rohit Chopra to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Member attendance will be essential, as every Senate Democrat will need to be present and voting, along with the potential help of Vice President Harris to break any ties.
Appropriations – House Democratic leadership is tentatively planning on holding floor votes on several minibus appropriations bills the last two weeks of July. In the lead up to that effort, the House Appropriations Committee has set the following sub-committee and full committee markup schedule:
Thursday, June 24 – Subcommittee Markups: Financial Services and General Government; Legislative Branch
Friday, June 25 – Subcommittee Markups: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Monday, June 28 – Subcommittee Markups: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Tuesday, June 29 – Full Committee Markups: Subcommittee Allocations; Financial Services and General Government; Legislative Branch
Wednesday, June 30 – Full Committee Markups: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markups: Defense; Homeland Security
Thursday, July 1 – Full Committee Markups: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Monday, July 12 – Subcommittee Markups: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Tuesday, July 13 – Full Committee Markups: Defense; Homeland Security
Thursday, July 15 – Full Committee Markups: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Friday, July 16 – Full Committee Markups: Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies