Weekly Legislative Update
August 9, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House is in recess this week while the Senate is in session. The Senate will take a final vote on the 2,702-page, five-year Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Tuesday morning, 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 $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.”

After voting on 23 amendments to the bill over the past week (adopting 13 and rejecting 10), the Senate on Sunday evening voted 69-28 to adopt the substitute amendment for the legislation, which contains the language written by the bipartisan group of 22 senators over the past two months and agreed to by President Joe Biden. The Senate then voted 68-29 on cloture on the amended version of the bill, which kickstarted 30 hours of post-cloture debate on the legislation before a final vote is held. If the Senate spends all 30 hours of post-cloture debate on the bill (during which no amendments are in order except by unanimous consent), the vote on final passage could occur as early as 3am ET on Tuesday, August 10, but will probably get moved up to 10 or 11am ET on Tuesday morning.

Once the Senate passes the infrastructure bill, the chamber will immediately begin consideration of Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution, which was publicly released Monday morning. The budget resolution includes reconciliation instructions for 12 Senate committees and 13 House committees to craft sweeping legislation to “enact the Build Back Better agenda,” including large swaths of President Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans unveiled earlier this year. Major spending targets under the resolution include: universal Pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds; subsidized child care for working families; tuition-free community college; expanding Medicare benefits; providing "lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants"; improving cybersecurity infrastructure; funding to address forest fires, reduce carbon emissions and address drought concerns; Civilian Climate Corps funding; clean energy development funding; costal resiliency and healthy oceans investments; environmental justice investments in clean water affordability and access, healthy ports and climate equity; funding to invest in public housing, the Housing Trust Fund, HOME, housing affordability, equity and community land trusts, CDBG, zoning, land use, and transit improvements; and SALT cap relief. In a letter sent Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) informed the 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus that the deadline for committees to write legislation to fulfill the spending targets set forth by the budget resolution is Wednesday, September 15. The multiple bills marked up by the committees would then be bundled together by the House and/or Senate Budget Committees for floor debate as a single, mammoth bill.

Once the Senate passes the FY22 budget resolution, likely by the end of this week, the House will return to Washington later this month to pass it (likely during the week of August 23), which will allow the 25 congressional committees the ability to officially begin work on their parts of the package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated in late July 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.

After 4.5 months of delays, the 2020 census results used to redraw voting districts around the country for the next ten years at the local, county, state, and federal levels will finally be released on Thursday, August 12 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Week in Review