Weekly Legislative Update
November 1, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The House will consider 24 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act (H.R. 1917), which makes an entity seeking assistance under a hazard mitigation assistance program eligible to receive such assistance for certain projects already in progress. The House will also consider the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193), which authorizes the Department of Commerce to award economic development grants for public-private partnerships and certain consortiums to carry out specified broadband projects.
President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats released their $1.75 trillion framework for his economic agenda plan, the Build Back Better (BBB) Act. There was much speculation on whether the House would vote on the BBB Act and the $1.2 trillion Senate passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) last week, but votes were delayed as moderates and progressives within the Democratic Party haggled over differences in the social spending plan. The conversations carried over into the weekend, where lawmakers chiefly debated drug pricing, changes to state and local taxes, immigration specifics, and paid family leave. The House Rules Committee delayed a meeting on the Build Back Better Act to allow for more time to work out new changes and finalize draft language. Leaders within the party are aiming for a vote on both pieces of legislation sometime this week. However, earlier today, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a key negotiator on the reconciliation bill, mentioned his uncertainty towards supporting the bill stating “budget gimmicks” and asking for more time to fully analyze the fiscal impacts of the legislative text. This may push House action on the BBB Act and H.R. 3684 to later in November. The BBB Act originally included $6 billion for local transportation priorities (i.e., highway/transit earmarks), but the revised version of the bill unveiled last week removed this section.
The House and Senate agreed to another one-month authorization extension of federal surface transportation funding. The Further Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2021 bill (H.R. 5763), a simple and policy-free extension through midnight on December 3, was signed into law by President Biden on October 31.
Both chambers will send top appropriators to meet this week on top-line government funding bills to outline figures for a FY 2022 deal before the upcoming December 3rd deadline. Republicans say there are two main hold-ups in spending talks: the lack of a deal on basic defense and nondefense funding figures, and Democrats’ focus on the BBB Act. But even after those two major obstacles are cleared, lawmakers are in for tough negotiations on abortion policy, border funds, and climate measures.
The Senate will vote on at least ten executive and judicial nominations made by President Biden, including: Rajesh Nayak to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy; Jeffrey Prieto to be the EPA’s General Counsel; Benjamin Harris to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy; and Jonathan Davidson to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Legislative Affairs. For the rest of the week, the Senate will hold various hearings including: the Committee on Environment and Public Works’ hearing on the Economic Development Administration; the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s hearing on reauthorizing the pre-disaster mitigation program of the Small Business Administration; and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ hearing on “the road ahead for the COVID-19 response and next steps.”
During the rest of the week, the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity will meet on “the economic effects of technological innovation, automation and the future of work.” The House Committee of Financial Services will hold a hearing on “Cyber threats, consumer data, and the financial system.” The House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on “Modernizing the Community Services Block Grant.”
Voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in special general elections to choose the successors in the House for former Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) who resigned in March and May 2021, respectively. OH-11 Democratic nominee Shontel Brown and OH-15 Republican nominee Mike Carey are likely to win the two races, bringing the total number of Democrats in the House to 221 and the total number of Republicans to 213. The House Democratic and Republican special primary elections for Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which was represented by former Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) until his death on April 6, 2021, will also take place on Tuesday. The Democratic and GOP nominees in FL-20 will face off in a special House election on January 11, 2022.
Week in Review