It's a crucial week for Biden's agenda and Congress

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0304 GMT (1104 HKT) September 28, 2021
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7:18 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Schumer promises "further action" this week to prevent a shutdown and default after bill fails

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Clare Foran

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer harshly criticized Senate Republicans for blocking a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit and avert a shutdown and he vowed that there will be further action taken this week, but did not outline a specific plan. 

“Despite Republican intransigence this matter cannot be set aside for even a moment. Before the vote I changed my vote from yes to no in order to reserve the option of additional action on the House-passed legislation. Keeping the government open and preventing a default is vital to our country’s future and we’ll be taking further action to prevent this from happening this week,” he said.

Schumer blasted his Republicans colleagues for voting against the measure.

“It's one of the most reckless, one of the most irresponsible votes I have seen taken place in the Senate,” he said in floor remarks.

“Our country is staring down the barrel of two totally Republican manufactured disasters: a government shutdown and a first ever default on the national debt,” Schumer argued. “The impacts of both would gravely harm every single American in this country. Republicans would let the country default for the first time in history. A few moments ago the Senate had an opportunity to begin solving these problems right away. Democrats did their part and voted yes, but Senate Republicans meanwhile voted to drive our country straight towards a government shutdown and the first default in our country's history.”   

7:15 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Why GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy says he voted against advancing government funding bill

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

(CNN)
(CNN)

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, said he voted against advancing a stopgap bill the House approved last week, which includes disaster relief for his state, because it was clear it wouldn’t pass.

“If it had any chance of passing, I would have voted yes because I need to bring relief to my state,” Cassidy said. 

He blasted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for attaching disaster relief to a bill that “wasn’t going to pass.”

“It was pretty cynical of Senator Schumer to attach relief for disaster victims to something that he knew wasn't going to pass… leveraging their pain for something that you can do quite easily,” he said. “So shall I say I'm frustrated, absolutely.”

 

6:46 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Senate Republicans block bill to suspend debt limit and avert shutdown in key vote

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit and avert a government shutdown from advancing in the Senate on Monday.

The move comes after Republicans had insisted that Democrats act alone to address the debt limit and leaves Congress without a clear plan to keep the government open with the threat of a potential shutdown looming by the end of the week.

Government funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, and the stopgap bill the House approved last week would extend funding and keep the government open through Dec. 3. In addition, the measure includes a debt limit suspension through Dec. 16, 2022. The clock is ticking to address the debt limit and Congress may only have until mid-October to act before the federal government can no longer pay its bills.

The Senate voted on a procedural motion to advance the legislation, which needed 60 votes to succeed. Since Democrats control only 50 seats in the chamber, they would have needed 10 Senate Republicans to vote in favor.

With the measure failing to advance in the Senate, congressional Democratic leaders will now have to scramble to determine a plan B. As of now, Congress does not yet have a plan announced by Democratic leadership in both chambers about how they will keep the government operating perilously close to the date when funding will run dry and a shutdown could be triggered.

Read more here.

6:08 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Pelosi says no top-line number has been agreed to yet on economic package

From CNN's Manu Raju

Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear to members at a closed-door caucus meeting there was no agreement yet on a price tag for their party's bill to expand the social safety net, according to a person in the room.

She said that President Biden is negotiating that number still with senators and others.

She also didn't detail a timeframe for taking up the larger bill but indicated there were more steps needed to ensure the measure passes muster with the Senate's parliamentarian and adheres to strict budget rules in the chamber, the source said.

6:12 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Senate taking procedural vote now on House-passed bill to suspend debt limit and avert shutdown

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

The Senate is now taking a procedural vote on whether to advance a House-passed bill to suspend the nation's debt limit and avert a government shutdown. 

Senate Republicans have insisted that Democrats should act alone to address the debt limit and are expected to block the measure. The Hill team will alert when the vote is final.  

Government funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, and the stopgap bill the House approved last week would extend funding and keep the government open through Dec. 3. In addition, the measure includes a debt limit suspension through Dec. 16, 2022. The clock is ticking to address the debt limit and Congress may only have until mid-October to act before the federal government can no longer pay its bills.

The Senate is voting on a procedural motion to advance the legislation, which needs 60 votes to succeed. While a few Senate Republicans may ultimately vote in support of the legislation, it is not expected there will be 10 Senate Republican votes in favor, which would be needed to reach the 60-vote threshold since Democrats only control 50 seats in the chamber.

If the measure fails to advance in the Senate, as anticipated due to GOP opposition, it will leave Congress without a plan announced by Democratic leadership in both chambers about how they will keep the government operating perilously close to the date when funding will run dry and a shutdown could be triggered.

Prior to the Senate vote happening now, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell attempted to bring up a clean stop-gap bill to keep the government open that would not include the debt limit provision as an alternative. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Patrick Leahy objected to an unanimous consent request to advance that proposal.  

5:47 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Manchin won't say how big a bill he will support: "I'm interested in hearing what everyone has to say"

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Sen. Joe Manchin continued to be evasive about the dollar amount he could support for a budget package as he arrived at the Capitol late Monday for a Democratic leadership meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

“No,” he said loudly to a reporter who asked if he had decided on a top line figure. “I’m not answering you, okay?”

When another reporter asked if the West Virginia Democrat had informed the White House of that dollar amount, Manchin was incredulous, “Jesus Christ, I just hollered at him” before explaining “I’m looking at the needs the country has.”

He was asked also if he would support a carbon tax that Democrats are considering as a way to off set the costs of the bill.

“I just heard about that. I’m not down that road yet. I’m talking. I’m interested in hearing what everyone has to say about everything,” Manchin said while adding that no one specifically pitched him on the carbon tax.

5:24 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Durbin on getting deal by Thursday: "I don't think anybody has a rosy scenario"

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters today that Democrats remain in "deep negotiation" over the party's plan to expand the social safety net and seemed to acknowledged that high hurdles remain in the sprint to reach consensus among their ranks on spending legislation by Thursday.

"There was a signal sent out at the end of this weekend they were still in deep negotiation," said Durbin, when asked if he believed progressives and moderates might reach an accord by Thursday.

"I don't think anybody has a rosy scenario," added the Senate's second ranking Democrat.

Durbin said he is not certain where Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate, stands in her demands to the leadership and the White House over the bill.

"No, I don't know," he said when asked by reporters about Sinema. "I have not sat down with her since some early conversations when she said $3.5 [trillion package] was not acceptable."

Durbin said Democrats were planning to make another argument to the Senate parliamentarian to include immigration provisions in the party's social safety net package.

Such a move would require the legislation to meet the Senate's strict budget rules since Democrats are trying to include them in a reconciliation process that cannot be filibustered in the upper chamber.

4:31 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Moderate Democrats say they expect a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill "no later than Thursday"

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Moderate Democratic Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, Ed Case, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Jared Golden, Vicente Gonzalez, Josh Gottheimer, Kurt Schrader, and Filemon Vela released a statement ahead of the House beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill tonight.

They say that they expect a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “no later than Thursday,” which is in line with what Speaker Pelosi has announced in terms of vote timing.

Many of these members were in the original group who negotiated with Democratic leadership to get the Sept. 27 date set as the original vote date for the bill.

Pelosi has since pushed that date back to try and buy more time to get progressives on board who have said they won’t vote for this bill without a vote on the broader economic spending package.  

4:31 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Schumer warns Senate GOP of economic consequences of blocking bill tonight 

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Republicans ahead of a key procedural vote Monday on a House-passed bill to suspend the nation's debt limit and avert a government shutdown.

The Democratic leader said that "after today there will be no doubt about which party in this chamber is working to solve the problems that face our country, and which party is accelerating us towards unnecessary, avoidable disaster."

He warned that “If Republicans follow through with their plans to vote no, they will be on record deliberately sabotaging our country's ability to pay the bills, and likely causing the first ever default in American history.” 

The best case scenario under this “awful situation,” Schumer said in floor remarks, is “our country would fall into another recession, potentially erasing all the progress we've made to pull ourselves out of the Covid crisis.”

Schumer asked his Republican colleagues to “think carefully about the practical consequences of what they're doing” before voting down the measure.

What is happening tonight: The Senate will be voting on a procedural motion to advance the legislation, which needs 60 votes to succeed. While a few Senate Republicans may ultimately vote in support of the legislation, it is not expected there will be 10 Senate Republican votes in favor, which would be needed to reach the 60-vote threshold since Democrats only control 50 seats in the chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear for months that Republicans will not vote to increase the federal borrowing limit, setting the stage for a major showdown over the issue. McConnell's threat has prompted outrage from Democrats, who have said the GOP leader is playing a dangerous game that could tank the US economy. Republicans argue that it's not uncommon for the majority party to shoulder the burden for increasing the debt limit, a politically toxic vote for lawmakers up for reelection.

McConnell said on Monday ahead of the vote that Republicans are ready to support a bill to avert a shutdown as long as it does not have the debt limit attached.