Becker & Poliakoff

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of August 23, 2021

Becker’s Washington Weekly: Week of August 23, 2021

The House

The House returns from its August recess this week to debate the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure package, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The Democrat-only budget resolution sets a September 15th deadline for Senate and House committees to allocate $3.5 trillion among their areas of jurisdiction to advance President Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans. The Senate initiated the reconciliation process along party lines following its passage of the bipartisan infrastructure deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has committed to consider the infrastructure package only after the Senate passes the budget resolution.

However, nine centrist Democrats oppose the Speaker’s two-track plan. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Ed Case (D-HI), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), and Jim Costa (D-CA) have all stated that the House should first vote on the infrastructure package, but Speaker Pelosi is betting that these members will not abandon the party to tank the resolution’s key Democrat initiatives. She can only afford to lose three votes if she hopes to pass the bill.

The House will also consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reinstate the “pre-clearance” coverage formula that requires certain states and localities with a history of voter discrimination to seek federal approval before changing their voting practices. The coverage formula was initially enacted into law by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but was struck down by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.

The Administration

The FDA has granted full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The move is expected to increase vaccination rates, even if only slightly. The news comes as the Administration ordered new rounds of booster shots, which it says should be taken eight months after the initial vaccine was received.

The White House is still reeling from the fallout of its Afghanistan withdrawal and faces criticism from both parties. President Biden defended his decision in a press conference this weekend and added that he is invoking his statutory authority to compel six American commercial airlines to provide aircraft for escalated evacuation efforts in Kabul.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen endorsed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for a second term as his current post is set to expire. Secretary Yellen emphasized that renominating Powell would reduce uncertainty as the Country still recovers from the pandemic and recent inflation risks.

The Senate

The Senate remains in recess until Monday, September 13, 2021, though it will be in pro forma sessions this Tuesday and Friday.

Becker’s Federal Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.