House. House members are engaged this week in committee activity and will return to session next week. In the Appropriations subcommittees, four FY 2022 spending bills were marked up today (Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-HUD), with the full committee set to finish work on all four by Friday. For floor consideration, the bills will be grouped into several minibuses. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer envisions floor votes on all or most of the bills before the August recess.
Senate. The Senate returned today from recess and, not surprisingly, has more nominations on its schedule. The real action, though, will be behind the scenes as select groups of Senators work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and an FY 2022 budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. In a July 9 letter to his colleagues, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was his intention that the Senate consider both measures before leaving for the August recess. He also cautioned that “Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously-scheduled August state work period.”
Bipartisan Deal. The 21 Senators – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – who signed on to the bipartisan infrastructure agreement have divided into topic-specific groups and are now working with committee staff and the legislative counsel’s office to turn the agreement into legislative language, which, in turn, will be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office to calculate scores for the various provisions. The Senators plan to meet Tuesday to hammer out details, and White House officials are also expected to be engaged in those talks.
As part of this process, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday will mark up a new version of the Energy Infrastructure Act, legislation by committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that he views as an integral part of the bipartisan package. Last week, news outlets reported that details of the bipartisan proposal could be finalized as soon as the week of July 19, but there is skepticism as to whether everything can be finalized by then. There are also questions as to whether the CBO will score the deal’s pay-fors as raising enough money to offset the cost. This would include the $100 billion assumed from increased IRS tax collections and $58 billion from dynamic scoring, i.e., the economic benefits of infrastructure investment.
Even if supporters round up at least 60 votes in the Senate to pass the deal before the recess, there is still the question of what will happen in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not allow her Members to vote on the bipartisan deal until the Senate has also passed reconciliation legislation. “Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, then we'll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill," Pelosi said June 24.
Budget Resolution/Reconciliation. The first step in the reconciliation process is a budget resolution, and Leader Schumer is working with the Senate Budget Committee to develop a resolution with reconciliation instructions that can win the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. The rumor of the day is that the Budget Committee is looking at a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. It’s questionable, though, whether a package with that price tag will be acceptable to all Democrats, given that Senator Manchin is saying the bill must be totally paid for, and it will be difficult to get 50 votes for $3.5 trillion in offsets.
The Budget Committee could unveil its top-line number for reconciliation by the end of this week. Once Leader Schumer schedules the budget resolution for floor consideration, it’s expected to take about a week to finish debate and vote on amendments during the vote-a-rama.
Competition Order. On July 9, President Biden signed an Executive Order designed “to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation [and] increase competition.” According to a White House fact sheet, the Order “includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across our economy.” The Order itself, though, doesn’t impose new requirements; rather, federal agencies will need to write new rules to implement the various initiatives, and those rules are then likely to face court challenges.
Committee Action of Note: