JULY 30, 2021
House Passes Several Appropriations Bills; Senate Infrastructure Debate Opens
Plus, an update on Capitol Hill reopening
With Washington staring longingly at the August recess, this has once again been another busy week, with infrastructure and the appropriations process taking center stage. While much remains up in the air, both issues have begun to take on a more concrete shape.
Here’s What You Might Have Missed
Progress on Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. On Wednesday, 67 Senators voted to open debate on the debate on the infrastructure bill, though it had yet to be written. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expects the body to finish the bill “in a matter of days,” though it remains unclear if the Senate will have to work through the weekend to do so. WSW’s infrastructure report for this week has more details on the latest developments and can be found here.
House Passes Several Approps Bills; Emergency Security Supplemental Gets Wide Bipartisan Support. Yesterday, by a vote of 219-208, the House passed a package that included the following seven FY2022 appropriations bills:
- Energy and Water
- Financial Services and General Government
- Labor, Health and Human Services, Education
- Military Construction
- Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development
The House has also passed the State & Foreign Operations and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills. The only three bills that remain outstanding are Defense; Homeland Security; and Commerce, Justice, and Science. As a reminder, the fiscal year ends on September 30; if the House and Senate cannot strike a deal, it is likely that a Continuing Resolution will be needed, at least for a short time.
In more bipartisan news, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed an emergency security supplemental appropriations with wide margins. Among other provisions, the $2.1 billion legislation provides $70.7 million for the U.S. Capitol Police and $521 million for unanticipated pay and operations costs for the National Guard deployment at the Capitol and throughout the National Capital Region. The measure also provides funding for additional special immigrant visas (SIVs) for translators and other Afghans who worked with Americans over the past two decades, as well as for additional humanitarian relief to Afghan refugees.
Mask Mandates Return. Beyond the House of Representatives now instituting a mask mandate, several cities and counties are, with many others putting out recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control has indicated that the Delta variant is especially contagious, and preventive steps must be taken.
Here’s What You Should Be Watching
Congressional Meetings Remaining Virtual? While public tours are still on hold and restrictions remain in place limiting access to the U.S. Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, DC observers have been expecting at least some of those restrictions to be relaxed after Labor Day. However, the rise of the Delta variant and increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the DC metro area in recent weeks means that regular in-person meetings in Washington with Members of Congress or their staff are not likely to resume anytime soon. Your WSW team will continue to provide guidance and logistical support to make sure your interactions with your elected officials are as impactful as possible, whether they’re occurring virtually, in-person back in the Member’s state, or elsewhere.
The Prospects for a Democrats-Only Bill. As we have reported recently, much Congressional support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill is drawn from the notion that both Chambers will pass a more expansive, Democrats-only bill. Majority Leader Schumer claims that he has the 50 votes needed; however, some Senate Democrats have raised concerns that the price tag of $3.5 trillion is too high, while others have said the package needs to be bolder. It is worth watching to see where the final number ends up.