Tight September deadlines loom while House, Senate scheduled to work just a handful of summer days

Tight September deadlines loom while House, Senate scheduled to work just a handful of summer days

The schedules set up by Congress last December—with the pandemic still raging and the Senate majority undecided pending the special election in Georgia—are proving unworkable just six months later. Something’s gotta give, and that something is the ridiculous amount of recess they’ve currently got scheduled over the next three months.

As the calendar now stands, the House is scheduled to be in session for just nine days from July 2 through September 19. Nine. The Senate is now scheduled to leave Thursday for a 10-day July 4 recess, and then to be out starting August 6 until September 13. That leaves them about 16 days for legislative work between the end of this week and a whole lot of critical deadlines tied to the end of the fiscal year on September 30. When you throw in all of the Mondays and Fridays that are on the legislative schedule but no floor work is actually done because they’re travel days for members, well, even congressional leaders are thinking they have to do something.

That means getting members prepared for having less time in recess. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is softening them up. “House Democrats are committed to advancing President Biden’s ambitious agenda to build back better,” one of Hoyer’s advisers, Katie Grant Drew, told The Washington Post. “The House schedule will ensure time for the committee process and floor consideration of legislation as we get our work done for the American people.” Meaning clawing back some of the “district work period,” also known as “recess.”

The momentum of the big COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, is all but dissipated now as the administration and Congress slog on with infrastructure, a process which gets more complicated and time-consuming with every day. That’s in no small part because of that other pernicious Senate tradition, the filibuster.

As long as the Senate is deadlocked 50-50 and a very few Democrats refuse to do anything about it, this incredibly complied process of negotiating a path between Republicans who absolutely refuse to raise taxes and progressives who will refuse to pass any bill that doesn’t invest heavily in combatting climate change, there’s no quick way through the infrastructure process. It means weeks more of negotiating and bill writing. Even if there’s a bipartisan bill voted on in the Senate in the handful of days they’re in session next month, that’s unlikely to move in the House tunnel there’s a companion budget reconciliation bill—that can pass in the Senate on a simple majority vote, without Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just a tiny majority of five Democrats and thus has to navigate carefully to get all of her caucus on board. The large progressive wing is likely to take up Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s idea of keeping a bipartisan bill that comes over from the Senate off of the floor until a reconciliation bill with progressive priorities is also passed.

In the background of these negotiations, Senate Republicans are making threats about something that really has to happen in the next few months—a debt ceiling hike, the means by which the U.S. can keep borrowing and doesn’t end up defaulting on its outstanding debts which could create a global economic disaster. So of course Mitch McConnell and team are going to use it as a hostage. Again. Because that’s what they do. As of now, the nation’s borrowing power ends on July 31, but the Treasury Department can take measures to stretch out our fiscal solvency probably into September, early October.

“I’d say it’s unlikely,” that there are 10 Republicans who would vote for a clean debt ceiling hike, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota told The Hill. He’s McConnell’s #2, the minority whip. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, agrees. He pointed to previous Republican hostage-taking of the debt ceiling “to try to figure out some mechanism to control future debt.” He added “I would think it’s likely to get 10 Republicans you’re going to have to do some kind of spending reform to get a debt ceiling increase.” That doesn’t sound like a bunch that’s ready to spend the trillions needed for infrastructure restoration.

So throw that onto the pile of critical work that has to happen in the next few months and handful of legislative days. Tied to that, inevitably, is government spending for FY2022, which will have to be done by October 1. That’s really not likely to happen with an actual omnibus spending package, so there will almost certainly be yet another continuing resolution that will last a few weeks, a few months—inevitably being strung out until the week before Christmas because that’s how it always works. It’s not how it’s supposed to work, but it’s also not “normal” for the minority party in the Senate to do things like threaten to take the debt ceiling hostage, or shut down government, or refuse to seat the Supreme Court nominees of presidents from the other party, or let hundreds of thousands of people die on their watch while refusing to allow emergency relief legislation to pass for months.

There’s also the pressing need to do something about saving our elections and our democracy before all of the states get into the redistricting—or as it’s more likely to be in Republicans states, the gerrymandering process. That means passing the For the People Act as soon as possible. The first, procedural vote on that will be Tuesday of this week, with Schumer working closely with Manchin to get his agreement on the bill. Which Republicans will filibuster. Whether that will be enough to break through on filibuster reform, well, we’ll find that out soon.

Yes, the calendar crisis Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are not facing is largely not of their making, nor is the complete mess that Republicans—and particularly Mitch McConnell—have left them. But fixing it is in their power. That means cancelling as much of the upcoming recess as necessary to get the work done. They can take solace in the fact that it would really mess up Republicans’ summer vacation plans, too.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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