Weekly Legislative Update
August 23, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House is in session on Monday and Tuesday while the Senate is in recess this week. The House may consider 12 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021 (S. 272), which requires budget justification documents prepared by federal agencies to be posted online and listed on a central website not later than two weeks after they are first submitted to Congress.

The House will vote on the Senate-passed Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 14), which officially kickstarts the budget reconciliation process that will allow congressional Democrats to pass an expansive $3.5 trillion social spending and tax package to “enact the Build Back Better agenda,” including large swaths of President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans unveiled earlier this year. The FY22 budget resolution directs 13 House and 12 Senate committees to write and markup their parts of the reconciliation package by Wednesday, September 15. The multiple bills marked up and passed by the committees would then be bundled together by the House Budget Committee as a single, mammoth bill prior to a vote by the House in late September/early October, followed by a vote in the Senate (where only a simple majority will be required for passage).

Nine centrist House Democrats continue to object to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) plans to not allow a vote on the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the House floor until the Senate has passed the budget reconciliation package. The nine members — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Ed Case (D-HI), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), and Jim Costa (D-CA) — have called for a vote in the House on the Senate-passed infrastructure package before taking up the FY22 budget resolution. However, Speaker Pelosi has reiterated that the House will not change course and will consider the FY22 budget resolution and reconciliation package before voting on the Senate-passed infrastructure package. She stated in a “Dear Colleague” letter to the 220-member House Democratic Caucus on Saturday that “Any delay to passing the budget resolution threatens the timetable for delivering the historic progress and the transformative vision that Democrats share. In support of President Biden’s vision to Build Back Better, we must move quickly to pass the budget resolution this week. It is essential that our Caucus proceeds unified in our determination to deliver once-in-a-century progress for the children.” House Democrats can lose no more than three members on party-line votes with full attendance, but the math is more complicated, because members who miss votes or vote “present” change the total number of “yes” votes needed for passage.

The House will also vote on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (H.R. 4), which requires federal approval before changes to voting practices could be implemented in states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination, or if the changes fall into several categories that would be presumed to be discriminatory, which also would make it easier to challenge alleged discriminatory voting practices in court. The bill creates a new coverage formula to determine which states and local governments are subject to an approval process for voting changes, known as “preclearance” under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, based on previous discriminatory practices. If the House does pass H.R. 4, it would still be subject to a 60-vote filibuster in the Senate.
Week in Review