Negotiations Continue on Budget Reconciliation, Driving for Opportunity Act Markup Moved to This Week, Atlanta Braves Head to the World Series
By Jason Pye - Director, Rule of Law Initiatives
Point of Order is a (mostly) weekly preview of key congressional activity for those with more than a passing interest in federal policy.
National League Champs: Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I don’t get my hopes up when it comes to Georgia sports teams. I remember the Braves teams of the 1990s who won only one championship despite going to the World Series five times. I also remember the Georgia Bulldogs’ national championship appearance in the national championship game in January 2018. (I’m leaving the Atlanta Falcons’ two Super Bowl appearances off for a reason. I don’t care about the NFL except for checking in on how former Bulldogs are doing. I just prefer college football over the NFL.) I may be wrong, but something does feel different about this year. I wasn’t at the game on Saturday in which the Braves clinched, but watching on TV, the crowd was electric and very loud. The Atlanta Braves are heading to the World Series. We’re taking on a team everyone hates in the Houston Astros. (I’m sorry, Kevin Glass. You know it’s true.) We’re more evenly matched than people realize. This Braves team lost three of its star players, but they still powered through when the odds were stacked against them. They’ve been fun to watch. To my colleagues, if you see me on Zoom this week, I will be wearing a Braves jersey. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
Driving for Opportunity Act moved to this week: We mentioned in last week’s newsletter that the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to mark up the Driving for Opportunity Act, S. 998, on October 21. Unfortunately, the bill was held over for a week at the request of one of the members of the committee. The Driving for Opportunity Act will now be marked up during the committee’s business meeting this Thursday at 9:00 am.
Budget reconciliation is still alive: Well, there was something of a breakthrough last week in the negotiations on the budget reconciliation bill that the White House and congressional Democrats are calling the Build Back Better Act. Democrats hoped to have a deal by the end of last week now that Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are talking, but that didn’t happen. Sanders and Manchin apparently had a blow-up in the middle of the week, during which Manchin said, “I'm comfortable with zero,” referencing the overall price tag after Sanders told the West Virginia Democrat that price tag should be $3.5 trillion. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has poured cold water on the idea of increasing individual income and the corporate tax rate. She is likely to support other revenue raisers. The White House and Democratic leadership do seem optimistic. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Friday that “it’s very possible” that a deal is close. She took it a step further on Sunday. “We have 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written,” she said. “We just have some of the last decisions to be made.” Manchin met with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in Wilmington, Delaware to negotiate, but what progress was made is unclear. You can find a state of play on where certain major policies (such as the expanded child tax credit, Medicare expansion, etc.) are in budget reconciliation here.
Suspensions in the House: The House returns today at 2:00 pm for legislative business. First and last votes today are expected around 6:30 pm. The chamber will be in session through Thursday, with the last votes of the week expected before 3:00 pm that day. That’s also subject to change. There are eight bills (listed below) on the suspension calendar for the week. These bills will likely be on the floor Monday and potentially throughout the rest of the week, depending on what happens with any agreement on budget reconciliation.
Sovereign Debt Contract Capacity Act, H.R. 4111 (Financial Services)
Financial Exploitation Prevention Act, H.R. 2265 (Financial Services)
To award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal, in commemoration to the service members who perished in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, during the evacuation of citizens of the United States and Afghan allies at Hamid Karzai International Airport, and for other purposes, H.R. 5142 (Financial Services)
Continued State Flexibility to Assist Older Foster Youth Act, H.R. 5661 (Ways and Means)
Real Justice for Our Veterans Act, H.R. 4035 (Judiciary)
Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act, S. 921 (Judiciary)
COPS Counseling Act, S. 1502 (Judiciary)
Protecting America’s First Responders Act, S. 1511 (Judiciary)
Bills that come to the floor under suspension of the rules require two-thirds of members present and voting for passage. This is the most common way that bills considered by the House come to the floor. Some of these bills may be passed by a voice vote, rather than a roll call vote. Most bills that come to the floor under suspension aren’t widely considered controversial, although leadership may occasionally test a bill under suspension to gauge opposition or sneak a bill through the chamber. Because of the dilatory tactics used by the House Freedom Caucus, some suspension bills may be packaged together to save time and limit the number of roll call votes.
We’ve got a rule bill, but more could happen: Pursuant to H.Res. 716, which was approved by the House during the week of October 11, the House will consider the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, H.R. 2119. This bill was supposed to be on the floor last week, but it didn’t come up. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act makes changes to and reauthorizes the Family Violence and Prevention Services program. Additional items could be added. It’s possible that the Protect Older Job Applicants, H.R. 3992, could come to the floor. The Senate amendment (bipartisan infrastructure framework) to the House amendment to H.R. 3684 could be considered, but only if there’s a deal on the framework for the budget reconciliation recommendations that represent the Build Back Better Act. If a deal on budget reconciliation is reached this week, it’s possible that the Build Back Better Act will be on the House floor. (The House has to go first because all bills raising revenue are constitutionally required to go through the House before the Senate.)
Bannon referred for prosecution: The House voted last week to refer Steve Bannon to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify before the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Nine Republicans joined 220 Democrats to pass the referral, H.Res. 730. The Department of Justice will now decide how to handle the referral, which will test the scope of executive privilege since Bannon’s conversations with former President Trump up to and on January 6 are the focus.
House committee schedule: Below are some House committee hearings that may be of interest. The full House committee schedule for the week can be found here.
Taking Stock of ‘China, Inc.’: Examining Risks to Investors and the U.S. Posed by Foreign Issuers in U.S. Markets (Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Markup of Legislative Measures (Homeland Security, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Protecting Lives and Livelihoods: Vaccine Requirements and Employee Accommodations (Education and Labor Subcommittees on Workforce Protections and Civil Rights and Human Services, Tuesday at 10:15 am)
Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers (Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Tuesday at 10:30 am)
Markup of Legislative Measures (Financial Services, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Bringing Consumer Protection Back: A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Financial Services, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
United States Global COVID-19 Response: Actions Taken & Future Needs (Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Ensuring Equity in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (Homeland Security, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
The Federal Coal Program: A Bad Deal for Taxpayers and a Threat to Climate (Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Wednesday at 1:00 pm)
How the Meatpacking Industry Failed the Workers Who Feed America (Coronavirus Crisis, Wednesday at 2:00 pm)
Judicial Ethics and Transparency: The Limits of Existing Statutes and Rules (Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet; Tuesday at 2:00 pm)
Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil’s Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action (Oversight and Reform, Thursday at 9:00 am)
U.S. Engagement in the Western Balkans (Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber; Thursday at 10:00 am)
International Climate Challenges and Opportunities (Climate Crisis, Thursday at 10:30 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
Nominees in the upper chamber: The Senate returns today at 3:00 pm and will resume consideration of the nomination of Jia M. Cobb to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Schumer filed the cloture motion on the Cobb nomination on Thursday. The cloture motion doesn’t ripen until 11:00 am tomorrow, after which we expect a procedural vote. Schumer also filed cloture motions on the other nominations. Those nominations are Karen McGlashan Williams to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Patricia Tolliver Giles to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Michael S. Nachmanoff to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Sarala Vidya Nagala to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The cloture motions for these nominees also ripen at 11:00 am on Tuesday.
Senate committee schedule: Below are some Senate committee hearings that may be of interest. The full Senate committee schedule for the week is here.
Nominations Hearing (Finance, Tuesday at 9:30 am)
Executive Session (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube (Commerce, Science, and Transporation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security; Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Nomination Hearing (Foreign Relations, Tuesday at 10:00 am)
Emerging Threats to Election Administration (Rules and Administration, Tuesday at 2:30 pm)
Oversight of the Department of Justice (Judiciary, Wednesday at 10:00 am)
Women Entrepreneurs: An Economic Growth Engine for America (Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Wednesday at 2:30 pm)
Success After Service: Improving Veterans’ Employment, Education, and Home Loan Opportunities (Veterans’ Affairs, Wednesday at 3:00 pm)
Executive Business Meeting (Judiciary, Thursday at 9:00 am)
New Era for Consumer Protection: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress (Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Thursday at 10:00 am)
Social Media Platforms and the Amplification of Domestic Extremism and Other Harmful Content (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Thursday at 10:15 am)
If you’re interested in watching any of these hearings online, you can find committee websites here.
Biden weighs in on the filibuster: During a town hall with CNN last week, President Biden said that he’s interested in eliminating the filibuster for elections-related legislation “and maybe more.” The question about the filibuster came after Republicans blocked a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, S. 2747. Biden acknowledged that leaning in on the filibuster would hurt his domestic agenda—specifically, the Build Back Better Act—because at least two Democratic senators, Manchin and Sinema, have been fairly consistently on record against any changes to the rule. The White House, however, has indicated that President Biden’s proposed changes to the filibuster will be released in the coming weeks. If Democrats do move forward with this, it’s something that they will come to regret the next time there is a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president.
Due Process Institute is a bipartisan nonprofit that works to honor, preserve, and restore principles of fairness in the criminal legal system.