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Legislative Update

Reconciliation. With the House and Senate still in recess, the focus is on House committees that are marking up various provisions in the reconciliation bill. Most of the work will be in the Ways and Means Committee, which will meet on Thursday and Friday to consider proposals addressing paid leave, retirement, and Medicare expansion. The text of those proposals was released today.

Next week, on Sept. 14 and 15, Ways and Means will address additional provisions in its jurisdiction, including corporate and individual tax increases, clean energy tax benefits, and proposals affecting drug prices. Details of those proposals could be released this weekend or as late as Monday. (The markup schedule for other committees is below.)

Negotiations are ongoing among Democrats in the House and Senate and Administration officials in an attempt to “pre-conference” the reconciliation bill so that the version to be considered by the House is acceptable to 50 Senators. Of course, the House bill also has to win the support of 217 out of the 220 Democrats.

After the House committees finish their work, the Budget Committee will package everything into a single reconciliation bill for floor consideration. The current speculation is that the Budget Committee could meet on Sept. 22 or 23, followed by Rules Committee action, and then possibly a floor vote the week of Sept. 27.

If Speaker Nancy Pelosi is able to push the reconciliation bill through the House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will then bypass committee consideration and bring the House-passed bill directly to the Senate floor. While the reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered, Senators can offer an unlimited number of amendments, as long as they are germane. Once the 20 hours of debate time are used up, Senators will spend hours and hours voting on amendments during a vote-a-rama that has no time limit. Given Republican opposition, passage in the Senate is dependent on the support of all 50 Democrats, plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris, if all Senators are present and voting.

Continuing Resolution / Debt Ceiling. Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution by Sept. 30 to fund government programs in the new fiscal year, and Democrats are eyeing the CR as a vehicle for additional provisions. Today the Office of Management and Budget requested that Congress include in the CR over $14 billion to address recent natural disasters and $6.4 billion “to meet our commitments to Afghan allies and partners.”

In addition, Democrats plan to add language suspending the debt limit. The CR will need to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, and Republicans have vowed to oppose a clean suspension of the debt limit. The question, then, is whether the Democratic plan to add disaster relief and the Afghanistan commitment (and possibly a short-term extension of highway programs) will entice enough Republicans to vote for a CR that also suspends the debt limit.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Thursday, September 9:
    • House Natural Resources Committee continuation of markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Science, Space, and Technology Committee markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Small Business Committee markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Ways and Means Committee markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing: "The Future of Biomedicine: Translating Biomedical Research into Personalized Health Care."
  • Friday, September 10:
    • House Agriculture Committee markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Ways and Means Committee markup of reconciliation legislation.
    • House Financial Services Committee Hearing: Protecting Renters During the Pandemic: Reviewing Reforms to Expedite Emergency Rental Assistance
  • Tentative Schedule for Reconciliation Markup Next Week
    • House Energy and Commerce Committee – Sept. 13 and possibly Sept. 14
    • House Financial Services Committee – Sept. 13
    • House Judiciary Committee – Sept. 13
    • House Veterans Affairs Committee – Sept. 13
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – Sept. 14
    • House Ways and Means Committee – Sept. 14-15

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