House. The House is not in session but committees are holding hearings, including 10 that focus on appropriations requests for FY 2022. After next week’s Memorial Day recess, the House will resume hearings the week of June 7 and will next hold floor votes the week of June 14.
Senate. Senators this week will continue consideration of the modified Endless Frontier Act, which is now known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Hundreds of amendments have been filed, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remains hopeful that a vote on final passage can be taken before Senators leave Thursday evening for the week-long recess. Also this week, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
President’s Budget. The Office of Management and Budget last week announced that the President’s budget request for FY 2022 would be released this Friday, May 28, a day later than planned. There are indications that the Treasury Department will release its Green Book the same day, detailing the revenue proposals in the President’s budget.
Budget Resolution. The Administration gave a preview of the President’s budget April 9 when it unveiled discretionary spending numbers, calling for a 16% hike in nondefense funds and a 1.7% increase for defense programs. Those numbers could prove to be a problem for Democrats.
House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said he would prefer no increase in defense spending but said it's "livable" if it comes with the expected 16% increase in domestic funding. However, he told reporters May 19 that he doesn’t believe his committee will pass a budget resolution, calling it “an exercise in futility, because I don’t think we can get a defense number that all our members will vote for, and…we probably can’t get a nondefense number that all of our members will vote for.”
If the House Budget Committee considers a budget resolution next month but fails to send it to the floor, the House could pass a deeming resolution that sets overall spending figures for the Appropriations Committee to use. Passing a deeming resolution does not preclude Congress from subsequently agreeing to an FY 2022 budget resolution, which would be needed if Democrats want to use it down the road for reconciliation legislation.
Infrastructure. If “infrastructure” means surface transportation programs, there’s progress in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. If “infrastructure” refers to the package of initiatives being negotiated by the White House and Senate Republicans, there’s still a big gap between the two sides.
On Saturday, leading EPW Committee Democrats and Republicans announced agreement on a five-year, $304-billion bill for highways, roads, and bridges, scheduling a committee markup for May 26. How to pay for the spending is not part of the agreement as that is in the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee. Comparable legislation in the House was expected to be marked up by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee before the Memorial Day recess, but that has been delayed and it may be late June before the measure is considered due to staff having to vet over 2,000 earmark requests.
As for the other “infrastructure” talks, the White House and a handful of Senate Republicans have privately negotiated for almost two weeks. The latest Republican offer reportedly included a $50 billion increase in their earlier offer of $568 billion, while the White House countered with $1.7 trillion, a $550 billion decrease from its initial $2.25 trillion proposal.
In addition to major differences in the overall spending numbers and the scope of the package, there is disagreement over how to pay for the various initiatives. In its latest offer, the Administration observed that “major corporations are among the largest users of transportation infrastructure in our country…. Our approach should ensure that corporations are paying their fair share.” Republicans oppose changes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered taxes for both corporations and individuals. What happens next? “The ball is in the Republicans' court,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said today.
Committee Action of Note:
Texas Special Election. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has set July 27 as the date for the runoff in the special election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R) in the 6th District. Wright’s widow, Susan, will face fellow Republican Jake Ellzey.