COMPASS: Reconciliation negotiations in full force

September 21st, 2021

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. Despite intense weeks-long hyping from the mainstream media, this Saturday’s rally outside the Capitol was attended by more police and media than actual protestors.

The House and Senate are back in session this week with a massive agenda: a government funding deadline (including supplemental funding for hurricanes and resettlement of Afghan refugees), a debt ceiling deadline, the National Defense Authorization Act, potential passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package, and a reconciliation bill.

Yesterday the Senate’s parliamentarian denied Senate Democrats’ attempts to include a pathway to legal status in their reconciliation legislation. Doing so would be “a policy change that substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change,” she wrote. Senate Democrats are unlikely to let the issue drop, however, and will likely still seek to use reconciliation (which passes the Senate at a simple majority, rather than requiring 60 votes to invoke cloture) to extend federal benefits to groups of illegal immigrants.

They are also seeking to include provisions to facilitate labor organizing efforts, a host of climate and energy changes, and massive overhaul to Medicare’s prescription drug pricing policies.

The final bill still has to win support from moderates within the Democratic conference. Given the narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, the moderates have a lot more power than they otherwise would. In the Senate, all eyes on are Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), both of whom have expressed reservations with the scope of the reconciliation legislation. But in the House, progressives, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), are threatening to withhold their support for the bipartisan infrastructure package unless the reconciliation legislation contains their demands.

Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), have all signed a letter stating their intention to not vote for a bill that includes provisions raising the debt ceiling. This potentially forces Senate Democrats to include a debt ceiling increase in their reconciliation legislation, which could complicate their ability to assemble the votes to pass the bill in the House and Senate.

In short, it ain’t over till it’s over. There’s going to be a lot of drama unfolding on Capitol Hill over the next few weeks.

One area no single Democrat seems to be focusing on, however, is the border. Over the weekend, close to 15,000 migrants, many of them Haitian, crossed into Texas and are currently being housed under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Customs and Border Patrol are out of space, and running short on resources. The thousands of migrants are reportedly sharing only 22 portable toilets, and are building their own shelters out of sticks and plants.

The mainstream press and congressional Democrats — which spent months camped out on the border reporting on every single move the Trump administration made, launching crusades about cruelty and strategically placed photo-ops — could not be reached for comment. 

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