Congress avoids government shutdown but infrastructure battle looms

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 1:30 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021
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11:18 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

The bipartisan infrastructure vote has been delayed. Here's a recap of how today's negotiations unfolded. 

From CNN's Alex Rogers, Melanie Zanona and Daniella Diaz

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled against putting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on the floor Thursday night, according to a leadership aide, after progressives rebelled, potentially delaying consideration until Democrats strike an agreement on a separate, much larger social safety net and climate legislation.

Pelosi's decision came after hours of intense negotiations, including a call with President Biden and a crush of meetings and calls with members of the House Democratic caucus.

The progressives' stance today: Liberal Democrats were confident this week that they had the numbers to block the bill, which would spend hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading roads, bridges, transit, rail, broadband, airports, ports and waterways.

They hope their hardball tactics would push moderates to support their top priority: a $3.5 trillion bill known as the Build Back Better Act. That legislation would expand the child tax credit and Medicare's ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, fund community college and universal pre-kindergarten initiatives, combat climate change, and fund elder care and paid leave programs. The $3.5 trillion bill would be paid for, at least in part, by tax increases primarily on corporations and the wealthy.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN that the infrastructure deal should be "defeated" and railed against Pelosi's late-night deal-making effort.

"It is an absurd way to do business, to be negotiating a multi-trillion-dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what's going on," Sanders said. "That's unacceptable. And I think what has got to happen is that tonight, the bipartisan infrastructure bill must be defeated. And we can sit down and work out a way to pass both pieces of legislation."

Progressives said they would withhold their support on the bipartisan infrastructure package until moderates strike a deal with them on the Build Back Better Act. Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman, told CNN she was not worried that her liberal colleagues would break ranks.

The moderates' stance today: Pelosi's effort to pass the infrastructure bill today was complicated by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who said Thursday he would support a much smaller, $1.5 trillion bill expanding the social safety net, and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The two moderate Senate Democrats met for about 45 minutes on Thursday evening, as they tried to find a way forward on both the infrastructure and Build Back Better plans.

With a split Senate and a slim hold on the House, Democrats are leveraging their power to make sure their colleagues support their bills, which comprise Biden's domestic agenda.

What comes next: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed in a statement that the House will "remain in recess subject to the call of the Chair during this same legislative day of September 30, and will reconvene no earlier than 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning."

Members are "further advised" that the House is expected to "complete consideration" of the infrastructure bill tomorrow.

A White House official said they also expect talks to continue tomorrow on the framework for the larger social spending plan.

11:04 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

White House: Work resumes "tomorrow morning first thing"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and DJ Judd 

The White House has emphasized that this is not the end of the road and that work resumes "tomorrow morning first thing" on negotiating President Biden's agenda.

In a statement Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the news there will be no vote on the administration’s infrastructure proposal tonight, applauding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “for their extraordinary leadership.” 

“A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,” Psaki wrote. “But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing.”

10:53 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

There will be no votes on infrastructure bill tonight in the House

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ryan Nobles and Kevin Liptak

There will be no votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House tonight, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed in a statement.

"The House will remain in recess subject to the call of the Chair during this same legislative day of September 30, and will reconvene no earlier than 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning," the statement said.

Members are "further advised" that the House is expected to "complete consideration" of the infrastructure bill tomorrow.

A White House official said they also expect talks to continue tomorrow on the framework for the larger social spending plan.

10:24 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Manchin: "I don't see a deal tonight" on infrastructure bill

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, left, and Sen. Joe Manchin wait for an elevator in the US Capitol on September 30 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, left, and Sen. Joe Manchin wait for an elevator in the US Capitol on September 30 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock)

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin emerged after more than an hour in his hideaway with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and White House officials to say he doesn't "see a deal tonight" on the infrastructure bill.

The West Virginia senator doubled down that he is at $1.5 trillion and he believes they can do enough with that price tag.

When asked about the prospects of a deal tonight, Manchin said, “I don’t see a deal tonight. I really don’t."

10:17 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Schumer says Senate will reconvene at noon tomorrow

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Manu Raju 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor in Washington, DC, on September 30.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor in Washington, DC, on September 30. (Senate TV)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will reconvene at noon tomorrow, likely because the Senate has yet to address a potential lapse in surface transportation funding if the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t pass tonight. 

A funding extension would need to originate in the House. Both chambers can pass it quickly by voice vote. 

10:10 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Pelosi says it was a "very productive and crucial day" in new Dear Colleague letter

From CNN's Ryan Nobles

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 30.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 30. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

In a new Dear Colleague letter to her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House, Senate and White House are continuing discussions to "reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill."

She went on to say it was a "very productive and crucial day."

Pelosi also thanked members for their "participation and patience over the past few days."

"The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill has already had its rule passed and its debate has concluded. All of this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass the House and Senate," Pelosi wrote.

She teased that there was "more to follow."

More on this: Three different sources said Pelosi's letter should not be interpreted that there will be no votes tonight. 

One said the letter is “intentionally ambiguous."

10:06 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Progressives' leader says she wants members to list "no" votes quickly if infrastructure vote occurs tonight

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill on September 30 in Washington, DC.
Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill on September 30 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal told members of her caucus during an ongoing call that she has not yet heard of any deal reached with moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, but she said she wants the Senate to vote first when a spending deal is reached because she does not trust a framework, according to a source on the call. 

Jayapal also told members that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill tonight, they should get to the House floor early and cast their votes so the "no" votes are listed on the board ASAP. 

Jayapal also said, according to the source, members should not gloat if the bill fails. 

A source on the call said virtually all the members who spoke up during the call said they are all opposed to taking up the infrastructure bill tonight.

CNN's Manu Raju contributed reporting to this post.

9:44 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Biden in West Wing receiving updates from negotiating team

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

A Marine stands outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 30.
A Marine stands outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 30. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden remains in the West Wing this evening receiving updates from his negotiating team on Capitol Hill as they work to secure an outline on his sweeping domestic agenda.

Aides say Biden has been on the phone periodically with his team, which includes Brian Deese, Susan Rice, Louisa Terrell and Steve Ricchetti throughout the evening as developments proceed across town. Senior White House officials are also keeping tabs from offices at the White House. 

One official described the President as relatively even-keeled at this moment, despite the high stakes for his agenda.

“He knows how these things go,” the official said, citing Biden’s five decades in Washington, DC. “He wants this to pass, and thinks it will.”

Officials had, at one point, left open the possibility that Biden could travel to Capitol Hill to meet lawmakers in person on Thursday. That option became less likely as the day wore on. Still, the White House hasn’t completely ruled out some appearance by the President later this evening, though nothing is currently planned.

9:29 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Sanders says infrastructure bill "must be defeated" and calls efforts to cut last-minute deal "absurd"

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox 

(CNN)
(CNN)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, standing outside Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, told CNN that the infrastructure deal should be “defeated.”

The Vermont senator also railed on tonight's late-night dealmaking effort. 

"It is an absurd way to do business, to be negotiating a multi-trillion-dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what's going on. That's unacceptable. And I think what has got to happen is that tonight, the bipartisan infrastructure bill must be defeated," Sanders said.

"So I want to see the infrastructure bill passed, but it's absolutely imperative that we pass a strong, reconciliation bill that deals with the needs of working families, and it deals with the existential threat of climate change," he continued.

Meanwhile, moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and White House officials are now meeting together in the Capitol basement. 

This comes as House members were just advised that there will be no votes before 10 p.m. ET this evening, and that the House still stands in recess.