Weekly Legislative Update
October 4, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The Senate is in session this week. The House will only meet for Committee Work this week and next week.

House members have been advised that should there be significant legislation requiring House action prior to the week of October 18, members will be given 72-hours' notice of when to return to Washington.
The Senate will vote today on the nomination of Eugene Meyer to be general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has also filed for cloture on the nominations of Paloma Adams-Allen to be deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Lauren J. King to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The Senate will also resume consideration of the House message accompanying S. 1301, which would suspend the debt limit through December 16, 2022. The House passed S. 1301 last Wednesday, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block the bill in the Senate. Congress only has 14 days left, or until October 18, to resolve the debt ceiling issue before the country is likely to default on its financial obligations, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Majority Leader Schumer sent a “Dear Colleague” letter today sharing the realities of the road ahead for the two-track legislative strategy to approve the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF) and the Build Back Better (BBB) Act (also known as the budget reconciliation package), calling the process “difficult and, at times, messy.” The letter goes on to say that “Not every member will get everything he or she wanted. But at the end of the day, we will pass legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of the American people. I believe we are going to do just that in the month of October.” The Majority Leader also addressed the debt ceiling issue in his letter, saying, “we must get a bill to the President’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week.” However, this end-of-week deadline is likely impossible to accomplish without Republican support.
In addition, President Biden told House Democrats Friday to expect the final BBB package to be smaller than the current $3.5 trillion proposal. President Biden reportedly discussed a topline figure of between $1.9 and $2.3 trillion.
During this Committee Work week in the House, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing on hurricane readiness, recovery, and resilience efforts, with testimony from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Deanne Criswell. The House Small Business Committee will also hold a hearing on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) entrepreneurial development programs. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will discuss emerging contaminants and forever chemicals, known as PFAS chemicals, and their challenges to water quality, public health, and communities.

Last week, Congress successfully approved a Continuing Resolution (CR; H.R. 5305) to avert a federal government shutdown. President Biden signed the CR into law just hours before the October 1, 2021, deadline. The CR extends current FY 2021 funding levels through December 3, 2021, giving House and Senate appropriators two more months to finalize the FY 2022 budget. The CR also includes numerous additional provisions, including an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through December 3; $28.6 billion to address various natural disasters in 2020 and 2021; and $6.3 billion to support Afghan evacuees, among other measures. Senate Republicans were successful in blocking a provision to suspend the debt ceiling until December 16, 2022.
Senate Defense Appropriations Chair, Jon Tester (D-MT), indicated his subcommittee will release its FY 2022 defense appropriations bill by October 15. This could serve as a needed kickstart to the Senate appropriations process, as the Senate Appropriations Committee has only marked up 3 of its 12 bills thus far.
Late last week, the House and Senate passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2021 (H.R. 5434), which extends funding for the Department of Transportation’s surface transportation programs and ends any potential of furloughs until October 31, 2021. President Biden signed the bill into law on Saturday. The bipartisan infrastructure framework also serves as the 5-year reauthorization for surface transportation programs, which means that the new goal is to enact the BIF, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), by the end of October.
Week in Review