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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7:53 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Here are the impacts of a potential government shutdown

From CNN's Allie Malloy, Kevin Liptak and Jason Hoffman

The government is set to run out of money at the end of September unless Congress comes together to pass a funding bill, currently tied to suspending the country’s debt limit by Democrats. If that doesn’t happen, a government shutdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1.

As with all government shutdowns, certain government functions will come to a halt, while others will continue with employees not getting paid for a period of time. But a shutdown now has the added weight of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

If the government does shutdown, here are how the health agencies tasked with combatting the pandemic will move forward:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • 38% of CDC staff would be retained during a government shutdown, including those supporting the Covid-19 response.
  • 17% of those staffers are exempt, meaning their activities or positions are already funded or otherwise exempt.
  • 21% of those staffers are excepted, meaning their activities are deemed necessary by implication, or for the safely of human life or protection of property.

US Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA says activities supported by Covid-19 supplemental funding, including work on emergency use authorizations, will continue.
  • Mitigation efforts related to potential drug and medical product shortages and other supply chain disruptions, medical device infection control, work on enforcement actions for fraudulent, counterfeit and misbranded products related to COVID-19, and work on medical counter measures, therapies, and vaccines and important generic and biosimilar treatment options will also continue.
  • 70% of FDA staff will be retained in the event of a government shutdown.
  • 57% of those staffers are exempt, meaning their activities or position are already funded or otherwise exempted.
  • 13% of those staffers are excepted, meaning their activities are deemed necessary by implication, or for the safety of human life or protection of property.

All federal agencies would by impacted by a shutdown. Here are some other agencies plans for a lapse in government funding:

Department of Defense

  • All military personnel performing active duty will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities. Military personnel will not be paid until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.
  • Civilian personnel who are necessary to carry out or support excepted activities will continue in normal duty status and also will not be paid until Congress makes appropriated funds available.
  • Civilian employees paid from lapsed appropriations and who are not necessary to carry out or support excepted activities will be furloughed, or in other words, placed in a nonwork, non-pay status.

Department of Homeland Security

  • The Transportation Security Administration estimates 54,071 employees as the total number of employees exempt/excepted and estimated to be retained during a lapse in appropriations, although they will not be paid.
  • During the last government shutdown in 2018/19, hundreds of TSA officers who were required to work without paychecks through the partial government shutdown, called out from work at least four major airports.

National Park Service

  • Upon a shutdown, parks must notify visitors that the NPS will cease providing visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities and roads maintenance (including plowing), campground reservation and check-in/check-out services, backcountry and other permits, and public information.

Treasury Department

  • All audit functions and examination of returns will be ceased.

Small Business Administration

  • Most small business loan programs will cease approvals or support (aside from emergency assistance).

Housing and Urban Development

  • There will be slowdowns in getting Federal Housing Assistance loans.

Smithsonian 

  • All Smithsonian museums and galleries will be closed along with the National Zoo (including Panda Cam).
  • When the Institution’s available prior-year funding is exhausted, only federal activities designated as “excepted” will continue. The employees performing these activities are protecting life or property (including the national collections, National Zoo animals, and the safety/security of facilities and staff) and engaging in the orderly shutdown and management of the operations.

 

7:50 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

House begins debate on bipartisan infrastructure bill

From CNN's Annie Grayer

(House TV)
(House TV)

The House is now beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The debate on the floor will take place over coming days. The actual vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is not scheduled to happen until at least Thursday.

By starting debate tonight, Democratic leadership can say they are beginning consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which reflects the rule that was initially agreed to, even though they pushed back the actual vote to give everyone more time to try and hash out a deal. 

 

7:40 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Democratic lawmaker says it would be "disrespectful" to Biden for Democrats to oppose infrastructure bill

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Rep. Josh Gottheimer emerged from negotiations in the Democratic caucus this evening, saying he believed most Democrats would vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday.

The New Jersey Democrat went on to say it would be disrespectful to President Biden and the country to do otherwise.

"I think it would be very disrespectful to vote against the President's bipartisan infrastructure package this Thursday," he said. "...Frankly, it would be disrespectful to the country, given how much we need infrastructure. So we're gonna get that done."

Speaking on CNN, Gottheimer said he also supports a second spending package, which Democrats hope to pass through reconciliation, but he suggested Democratic lawmakers should see the two bills as separate matters when they vote.

"You can't go in there and vote against [it]," he said of the infrastructure package. "I just don't see people going in there and voting against men and women of labor and 2 million jobs a year, and infrastructure. I just don't see that."

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.