House. The House is not in session but committees are holding hearings, many of which focus on FY 2022 appropriations. On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up a surface transportation reauthorization bill with a price tag of about $550 billion over five years. This afternoon, the committee released an amended version that includes 1,473 Member Designated Projects (earmarks), totaling $5.6 billion.
Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes the Senate will take a final vote, possibly as soon as Tuesday, on legislation designed to boost U.S. competition with China. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which has grown to more than 2,400 pages, includes $52 billion for U.S. semiconductor firms and $195 billion targeted for research and development.
President’s Travels. President Biden leaves Wednesday for the United Kingdom, where he’ll meet on Thursday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and then attend a three-day G-7 meeting, June 11-13, in southwest England. On Sunday, June 13, he’s scheduled to meet with Queen Elizabeth and then depart for Brussels, where he’ll participate in the NATO Summit on June 14 and the U.S.-EU Summit on June 15. On June 16, Biden will travel to Geneva for a meeting with Russian President Putin.
Infrastructure. You almost need a spreadsheet to keep up with “infrastructure” developments. President Biden and Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) are continuing their discussions this week; a bipartisan group of five Senators (including Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema) and two Representatives are putting together their version of an infrastructure package; the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed a surface transportation bill May 26; the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday will mark up a bill that was crafted with no Republican input; and it appears that Congressional Democrats will have only one opportunity this year to use reconciliation as a vehicle for other “infrastructure” proposals from the President’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.
In guidance provided to Senate staff May 28 (but not publicly released), the Senate parliamentarian reportedly made two points that appear to preclude Democrats from using a revised budget resolution to provide an additional reconciliation bill: (1) a revised budget resolution must be reported out of the Senate Budget Committee, and (2) a revised budget resolution should be used only “in extraordinary circumstances and not for things that should have been or could have been foreseen and handled” in a regular budget resolution.
The first hurdle, in particular, seems to be too high for Democrats to clear in a 50-50 Senate. If Republicans on the Budget Committee decide not to attend a markup, there would not be a majority of members present, and consequently, the resolution cannot be voted on and moved to the floor. A regular budget resolution can be automatically discharged to the floor without a vote in the committee after April 1.
Without the option this year of separate reconciliation bills for the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, in consultation with the White House, will need to come to a general agreement soon on what legislative objectives they want to accomplish in an FY 2022 reconciliation bill. Then, Democratic lawmakers will craft an FY 2022 budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions broad enough to allow for consideration of Democratic priorities.
Committee Action of Note:
Latest House Count. When Democrat Melanie Stansbury is sworn in to replace Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), there will be 220 Democrats and 211 Republicans in the House. Stansbury kept the seat in Democratic hands with her victory June 1 in a special election. Republicans will add one more to their count following the July 27 runoff to replace Rep. Ron Wright (R-Tex.).
The subsequent 220D/212R division will stand until the Nov. 2 special election in Ohio to replace one Democrat and one Republican – Rep. Marcia Fudge (D), who is now HUD Secretary, and Rep. Steve Stivers (R), who resigned to head the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The general election to fill the seat of Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who passed away April 6, will not be held until Jan. 11.