Washington Update - July 18, 2021

Billy Moore    Dc2

Congress reaches full throttle this week with the House expected to pass more than half of the fiscal 2022 annual spending bills and the Senate leadership planning to hold the first procedural vote on the bipartisan physical infrastructure package, even as negotiations continue on the bill’s content. Democrats have mostly reached agreement on a budget resolution to facilitate reconciliation protection for the partisan human infrastructure plan, putting Senate committee action on the near horizon.

The House Appropriations Committee has reported all of its bills on mostly partisan votes over Republican objections about spending increases that favor domestic over military accounts. Similar partisan opposition threatens to thwart all spending bills in the Senate until a compromise is reached, most likely late this year or early in 2022.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill is not yet agreed to as revenue discussions drag on. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set a preliminary vote on beginning debate for Wednesday, but he may delay the vote if progress promises results. He also wants Senate Democrats to agree by Wednesday on a budget resolution that would allow a $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill to pass without Republican support. Again, revenue is the most important impediment to agreement.

Democrats hope the human infrastructure bill will be a vehicle for immigration reforms that gained new importance following a Friday district court decision ruling unlawful the program protecting Dreamers who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.

Progress on President Joe Biden’s agenda gained new urgency as his successful efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic lost momentum amid partisan divides over vaccinations. Infections have tripled over the past three weeks as hospitalizations and deaths rose among the unvaccinated. The White House is striving to convince young people to get the shot while trying to counter disinformation that keeps vaccination rates low in localized areas.