Washington Update - June 6, 2021

Billy Moore    Dc2

Senators return this week with Democratic leaders planning a confrontational summer, hoping to impress their moderate colleagues with the need to reform the Senate’s filibuster procedures. Representatives remain on recess. 

Senators will confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee Julien Xavier Neals to be a district court judge, a vote made possible by filibuster rule changes made years ago by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Next will be votes on a bipartisan proposal to improve American competitiveness with China, which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes will demonstrate Republican obstructionism of bills Republicans helped author – similar to a Republican filibuster of legislation creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

The votes would set the stage for Senate Democratic efforts to overcome Republican filibusters to stymie other legislation. Among the items on the Democrats’ list: measures to ensure equal pay for equal work by men and women, protecting rights of LGBTQ individuals and gun safety. Later, Leader Schumer will bring an expansive voting reform bill to the floor. Many Democrats suggest a bill narrowly focused on voting rights would better counter ballot access restrictions being enacted by Republican state legislatures.

The effort is aimed at a handful of moderate Democratic Senators who favor bipartisanship. These Democrats represent Republican-leaning states and are unlikely to be persuaded to eliminate the filibuster but may be willing to implement reforms, such as requiring Senators to hold the floor in order to hold up legislation.

The filibuster effort is unlikely to impact the continuing negotiations on an infrastructure bill or appropriations. A Senate committee has unanimously reported a highway bill that will become the vehicle for a larger infrastructure effort. A House committee will report a companion initiative this week.

President Biden will travel overseas this week to meet with NATO partners and summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin