08.09.2021 Washington Update

Infrastructure – The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will come to a final vote as early as tomorrow morning. Conservative Senate Republicans blocked efforts this weekend to expedite consideration of the bill.  But those came to end last night, as the Senate voted to adopt the Sinema-Portman substitute amendment by a vote of 69 to 28, and invoked cloture on the bill.

At Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) behest, the House won’t consider the bill until the Senate passes reconciliation legislation in September.  As former House Republican leadership staffers, many of us know that Speaker Pelosi’s urgent task now is to find the math to pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.  The progressives who recently showed they are willing to hold firm just last week (eviction moratorium) remind us of the House Freedom Caucus problems Speaker Boehner dealt with unsuccessfully.

Speaker Pelosi can schedule a vote, but pressure on her is meaningless unless the White House can convince nearly every House Democrat to support whatever vehicle they would like to move.  We don’t expect any more than a handful of House Republicans to support this product.  The bipartisan nature of the Senate compromise absolutely won’t spill over into House politics.  In fact, you can argue it hurts the House majority’s ability to pass it.  Why would House chairmen, progressives or even moderate Democrats feel compelled to vote for something that retiring Senate Republicans negotiated?


Budget Resolution – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are racing to pass the fiscal year 2022 budget resolution by mid-week.  Chairman Sanders released text this morning. It includes $3.5 trillion in reconciliation instructions, with committees expected to produce their proposals by September 15th, though this date is non-binding.

In the Senate, the budget resolution is privileged, meaning the motion to proceed is not debatable and does not have to sit for a day before coming to the floor.  Once the resolution is placed on the Senate calendar, Leader Schumer can make a motion to proceed to its consideration, a motion that requires a simple majority vote to pass.  Under budget rules, there will be up to 50 hours of debate, evenly divided, between the majority and minority leaders or their designees, and amendment votes can commence during this time.

While the Democratic caucus is expected to yield back much of their time, Senate Republicans will unleash a vigorous political counterattack.  Though budget resolutions have no legal effect, they are important political statements reflecting the spending priorities of the majority party.  Knowing this, Republicans plan to use every tool in their arsenal to make this process as painful as possible.  The GOP’s point of maximum political leverage comes after the 50 hours of debate have lapsed or been yielded back, when the so-called “vote-a-rama” begins.  This is when things will get interesting on the floor.  As they did earlier this year, Senate Republicans will force difficult votes, on everything from taxes to inflation to the Green New Deal, for Democrats, especially those facing tough reelections next year.  Democrats, in turn, will try to mitigate the damage by offering side-by-side amendments, attempting to return the favor by forcing 2022 Republicans into political thickets of their own.

Vote-a-rama will end once Republicans stop offering amendments.  Notably, during the vote-a-rama on the FY 2021 budget resolution in February, 45 out of 889 amendments filed received a vote.

After the Senate passes the budget resolution, it will be sent to the House.  Speaker Pelosi will call back the House, now in recess, to pass it. We expect that the House will hold votes the week of August 23rd on the budget resolution as well as potentially considering election reform legislation. Under normal circumstances, this would be a logistical headache, but with proxy voting still in effect, several members can vote from home, so the resolution is expected to pass by the end of the month.

The following 12 Senate committees will receive reconciliation instructions:

  • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
  • Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • Commerce, Science, and Technology
  • Energy and Natural Resources
  • Environment and Public Works
  • Finance
  • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • Judiciary
  • Indian Affairs
  • Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and
  • Veterans Affairs


In the House, the following committees will receive reconciliation instructions:

  • Agriculture
  • Education and Labor
  • Energy and Commerce
  • Financial Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Judiciary
  • Natural Resources
  • Science, Space, and Technology
  • Small Business
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Veterans’ Affairs, and
  • Way and Means


Election Reform – Leader Schumer may tee up cloture votes on two election reform bills before the Senate leaves for August recess. Over the weekend, he took the procedural step to potentially call up S.2670, the Redistricting Reform Act and S.2671, the DISCLOSE Act, which requires additional disclosures from corporations, labor organizations, and Super PACs. Republicans will uniformly oppose these measures, which means they will fail to overcome the 60-vote threshold.