There is plenty of talk going on around the block about different issues the government plans to address and tackle. With so much chatter, it can become a little confusing on what is actually being worked on right now and what will be coming up in the near future. So let’s just take a quick look and see what the agenda looks like on Capitol Hill.
First we will start in the House, where they have a few things on their main agenda. However, before we get to what is coming up, there are a few things that have already happened that should be mentioned. Firstly, the House passed a bill on Wednesday that looked to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, specifically the 12th federal holiday in the US. The House vote for the bill was 415–14, the 14 opposition votes all coming from Republican members. That bill was signed into law by President Biden on Thursday.
The other major vote from the House recently was the vote on Thursday to repeal the 2002 Iraq War Authorization. This authorization had been used to allow President Bush to use the U.S. military as he saw fit to take care of the threat posed by Iraq. After the threat had ended the authorization continued, however, that might now change. Supporters of the repeal say that it will stop any president from performing military actions that are blatantly unnecessary and using that authorization as a defense. The House passed the repeal of this authorization by a vote of 268–161, with 49 Republicans voting for the bill and just one Democrat voting against it. Now it will head to the Senate, and we will discuss that future here in just a bit.
As for what is coming up on the House’s agenda, there are a few items to keep an eye on. First and foremost is the situation surrounding infrastructure. While the primary negotiations for a bipartisan infrastructure bill are happening between a group of 10 Senators and the White House, House members are also looking at the issue and planning out a bill in case talks break down. In her press briefing on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted a few of the main questions that are circulating throughout the House right now in regards to an infrastructure bill. These questions are: “Where do we come to an agreement on what is infrastructure? How close can we come on the funding? And how is it being paid for?”
White House Counselor Steve Ricchetti told House Democrats during a closed session that negotiations with the group of senators would continue for roughly a week to ten days before they decide to assess their options and next steps. Now that does not mean that the negotiations won’t continue, but that might be a sign that gears will shift towards the creation of a reconciliation bill. There is still a lot to come on this topic, and more in just a bit.
The other major agenda item is the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. Now yes, this bill did pass back in March, with the vote being 220–212. However, this bill is still being watched closely by the House as negotiations take place to get support from Senate Republicans. Also, one of the key negotiators of the bill is Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California. Should the bill get support, but is amended in the Senate, it will be coming back in the House’s direction, so they will have to watch its progress until it is officially passed.
Beyond those two bills, there isn’t much to mention in regards to the House’s agenda. These two items are going to require all hands on deck as it is, so we will have to wait and see what else they are able to get done. In her briefing on Thursday, Speaker Pelosi did say that they will be working on gun control legislation, however, she did not give any specifics on what kind of bill they were working on, nor did she give a timeline for any legislation of that kind.
Just like the House, the Senate has also remained busy. On June 8, the Senate was able to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, (USICA). The vote for this bill was 68–32. This bill is meant to put billions of dollars into things like science and technology research here in the US, research protection, job creation, and supply chain strengthening. That is not all this bill is meant to do, but those are some of the key areas. Now the bill will go to the House, where it is expected to pass.
The other recent agenda item was the procedural vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. This vote came on June 8, and the result was 49–50. This procedural vote was to decide whether the bill would move forward for Senate consideration. Since it did not get the required 60 votes, its progress is stunned for the time-being. Democrats remain committed to getting this bill passed, so don’t be surprised if it shows up again down the line.
The Senate will also have a few major agenda items to consider moving forward. First off is S.1, or the voters rights bill. This bill will help expand voter access by doing things like: allowing for automatic and same-day registration, mail-in-voting, and the limiting of the removal of voters from voter rolls. There are of course other areas of this bill, but those are the main points. In his briefing on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that they will be voting on this bill by the end of this month, most likely within the final week.
Another bill being worked on right now is the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act as mentioned earlier. The primary Senators joining Rep. Karen Bass in negotiations are Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina. While there hasn’t been any real recent updates, the negotiations do seem to be continuing, and there seems to be hope that a bipartisan agreement will be reached soon.
Now, just like in the House, the big ticket item right now is the issue of infrastructure. As mentioned before, there is currently a group of ten senators working on a bipartisan bill for infrastructure. The price tag that has been stated for this proposed bill hovers somewhere in the region of $1 trillion. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he feels optimistic about the status of the negotiations after being briefed by the five Republican Senators who are part of the talks on June 10. That being said, the general feeling running through the Democratic Party seems to be that the bipartisan bill will not be enough. The Democratic Party wants to put focus on what is being called “human infrastructure”, while the Republican Party is focusing mainly on physical infrastructure. With that being the case, Majority Leader Schumer has said multiple times that he sees this situation becoming two separate bills, one bipartisan and one through reconciliation. As for the timeline surrounding those two bills, Schumer said that he would like to see both bills put together by some point in July.
With so much going on there will definitely be updates to come. If you don’t want to miss those updates then head over to Twitter and give us a follow.