Weekly Legislative Update
August 2, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House is in recess this week while the Senate is in session.

The Senate will spend the remainder of this week voting on amendments to the 2,702-page, five-year Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes a full surface transportation reauthorization bill, in addition to funding for the electric grid, broadband, water infrastructure, resiliency and western water storage, environmental remediation, and more. The legislation totals around $1.2 trillion, with roughly $550 billion constituting new federal spending and the rest coming from existing, planned investments in roads, highways, and bridges.

The mammoth bill includes about $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges; $73 billion for power grid upgrades; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $65 billion for broadband expansion; $55 billion for water infrastructure; $50 billion for resiliency and western water storage; $39 billion for public transit; $25 billion for airports; $17 billion for ports and waterways; $15 billion for electric vehicles; $11 billion for road safety; and $1 billion for a new “Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.” Several senators are calling for an open amendment process, which could lead to dozens of votes over the next several days. Senators of both parties said they expected the legislation ultimately would pass without major changes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday evening that “Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days.” However, the legislative process in the Senate is likely to drag into early next week, since it is unclear how many amendments there will be, or what changes they could cause in the legislation.

Once the Senate passes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the chamber will immediately begin consideration of a $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution during the week of August 9 before leaving Washington for the chamber’s scheduled summer recess. The budget resolution is intended to unlock the 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus’s ability to pass an expansive economic package, which will incorporate large swaths of President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans, to address climate change, health care and education. The FY22 budget resolution is expected to pass with just Democratic votes. Once the Senate passes the FY22 budget resolution, the House will likely return to Washington quickly to pass it, which will allow House and Senate committees the ability to begin work on their parts of the package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated last week that the House will not vote on a Senate-passed infrastructure bill until the Senate has also passed a budget reconciliation package (following adoption of the FY22 budget resolution), which very likely won’t happen until October at the earliest. This means that the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation package won’t be enacted into law until mid-late fall.

On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Military Construction—Veterans Affairs and Agriculture—FDA—Rural Development will hold markups of their FY 2022 Appropriations bills. On Wednesday, the full Appropriations Committee will markup and pass these two spending bills, in addition to the FY 2022 Energy—Water Development Appropriations bill. Lists of the approved “Congressionally Directed Spending” requests (i.e., earmarks) for each of the three spending bills, submitted by senators in mid-June, should be made publicly available by the Committee no later than Wednesday. None of the bills are expected to make it to the Senate floor before lawmakers leave for their summer break. Once senators leave, they won’t return until September 13. Congress faces a September 30 deadline to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. Given the time crunch, the House and Senate are likely to use a continuing resolution, which extends last year's funding levels, until at least closer to the end of the year.

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th congressional districts will head to the polls to vote in special primary elections to pick the Democratic and Republican nominees for the November 2 special House elections to decide the successors for former Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), respectively. 

Week in Review