Next Steps in Congress for the Infrastructure Bill and Budget Resolution

August 16, 2021

Senate infrastructure negotiators
Alex Wong | Getty Images

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 11th, the U.S. Senate adjourned and went on their August recess after several days of delay. This delay was primarily caused by two items on Majority Leader Schumer’s agenda.

First, Tuesday’s passage of a bipartisan Senate infrastructure package, The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, capped the end of months-long negotiations between the Senate and the Biden Administration. This $1 trillion infrastructure bill, featuring $550 billion in new spending, passed with a bipartisan vote of 69-30. The bill will now move back to the House of Representatives, which passed their own infrastructure bill, The INVEST Act, on July 1st.

It is still unclear if the House will accept ‘as is’ the Senate bill and how quickly the chamber will be in responding to the legislation. Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman DeFazio has voiced discontent on what he sees as shortcomings of the Senate’s legislation. Omissions in the Senate bill of issues like climate change and a number of transit earmarks, that were included in the more robust House bill advanced by Chairman DeFazio, may be addressed through amendments or a conference. Although, this has become unlikely given the challenges of sending the bill back to the Senate for a second vote.

Second, following the passage of the Senate infrastructure bill, Senate Democrats immediately moved forward with debate on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution proposed by Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders. The ensuing vote-a-rama on proposed amendments to the resolution, facilitated largely by Senate Republicans, kept the chamber in session until the final party-line vote of 50-49 (with one Republican Senator absent) sending the resolution to the House of Representatives.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has signaled to members that the chamber will return early from their recess during the week of August 23rd to consider the budget resolution passed by the Senate. Furthermore, the House will not adjourn until the business of the week has been completed. Over the weekend, Speaker Pelosi, for the first time, indicated that the House would also try to take up the Infrastructure bill that same week, tacking in August the backlog of work in September.

In addition to the Infrastructure Bill and Senate Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress will also still have to resolve and pass FY2022 appropriations and the Senate only just started their process two weeks ago.

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