The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House will consider 21 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 2485), which requires that all Congressionally mandated reports be posted on a central public website; and the Senate-passed Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021 (S. 272), which requires that budget justification documents prepared by federal agencies be posted online and listed on a central website.
For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on a $617 billion package combining seven Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations bills, including Labor—Health and Human Services—Education, Agriculture—Rural Development, Energy—Water Development, Financial Services—General Government, Interior—Environment, Military Construction—Veterans Affairs, and Transportation—Housing and Urban Development. The House may also consider three additional FY 2022 spending bills on a stand-alone basis: the $4.8 billion Legislative Branch Appropriations bill (H.R. 4346), the $62.2 billion State—Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 4373), and the $81.3 billion Commerce—Justice—Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 4505). These ten FY 2022 spending bills include thousands of “Community Project Funding” (i.e., earmark) requests submitted by rank-and-file House members in April and approved by the House Appropriations Committee in June and July. The only two remaining FY 2022 spending bills that won’t be considered in the House until later this year are the $706 billion Defense and $76 billion Homeland Security spending bills. Congress has until September 30 to pass new government funding prior to the beginning of FY 2022 on October 1 and the House and Senate are expected to pass a short-term funding bill (i.e., a Continuing Resolution), likely lasting through early December 2021, to avoid a government shutdown.
The Senate will vote on several nominations made by President Joe Biden, including Todd Kim to be Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Several Senate committees will be voting this week to advance important Biden nominations to key posts, including: Rob Santos to be Director of the Census Bureau; Ed Gonzalez to be DHS’ Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Jennifer Moffitt to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Senate committees will also be holding hearings for nominees, including: former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development; and Robert Bonnie to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation.
The 22 senators negotiating the eight-year, $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (including $579 billion in new spending) are seeking to finish negotiations early this week. To speed discussions toward a conclusion, the White House and Democrats on Sunday evening made a “global offer” to Senate Republicans aimed at covering all outstanding issues. On Monday morning, it was reported that “[Senate] Republicans appear to be rejecting that [global] offer, arguing that it goes back on details that had already been agreed to by the bipartisan group during their weeks of closed-door negotiations.” The primary unresolved issues include funding for highways and bridges, water, broadband, transit, the creation of an infrastructure bank and how much unspent COVID relief money from 2020 can be used to pay for infrastructure, among other controversial items. A pending five-week break scheduled to begin August 6 is motivating the 22-member bipartisan group to end negotiations over components of their plan after Republicans spurned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s deadline for action last Wednesday. Leader Schumer has left the door open to be able to quickly bring up whether to start debate for a second vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package later this week, if the bipartisan group is able to get a deal finalized soon.
On Tuesday, voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District (which includes the suburbs of Dallas—Fort Worth) head to the polls to vote in a special House runoff election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX), who died in early February 2021 from COVID. Two Republican candidates made it to the special runoff election, Susan Wright and state representative Jake Ellzey, which ensures that the House GOP minority will soon increase in size from 211 to 212 seats. The House Democratic majority, currently numbering 220 seats, will soon only be able to lose up to 3 votes to pass any legislation (in the event all 212 House Republicans vote against a particular bill).