Infrastructure, debt limit and budget on Congress' agenda for the week

BY SourceMedia | MUNICIPAL | 09/27/21 12:35 PM EDT By Caitlin Devitt

The House is expected to vote Thursday on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, hours ahead of the expiration of key surface transportation programs.

The infrastructure bill is one of several high-profile measures Congress will juggle this week ahead of the fiscal year end Sept. 30. The House is also expected to consider a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, while the Senate was set to take a procedural vote Monday on a stopgap funding proposal that would avert a partial government shutdown and suspend the debt ceiling through December 2022.

?The next few days will be a time of intensity,? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a September 25 letter to representatives.

The municipal bond market is closely watching the debate. The infrastructure bill includes $550 billion for projects that would boost supply in the market.

The bill also includes a five-year authorization extension of surface transportation programs that are currently operating under a one-year extension that will expire Thursday at midnight. The surface transportation programs keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent and money flowing to states and local governments for various infrastructure projects.

Pelosi had planned to call the bipartisan infrastructure bill for vote Monday but pushing it to Thursday buys time for a deal to be reached with progressive Democrats, who have pledged not to vote on the infrastructure bill until the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill has passed.

?The votes aren?t there? for the infrastructure bill, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN over the weekend.

Pelosi told ABC News Sunday she believes the House will approve the infrastructure bill this week and will not call it unless she has the votes.

?We?re going to pass the bill this week,? Pelosi said, adding, ?I?m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn?t have the votes.?

The House Budget Committee over the weekend advanced the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill by sending it to the Rules Committee, where it likely faces significant amendments, including trimming the price tag.

The House wants to craft a reconciliation bill that is ensured passage in the Senate to avoid the need for conference negotiations.

Pelosi told ABC News ?broader agreement? is needed on the reconciliation bill. ?Obviously with negotiations there will have to be some changes in that; the sooner the better, so we can build our consensus to go forward,? she said.

The reconciliation bill includes a wish list of muni items, including a direct-pay bond program, restoration of tax-exempt advance refundings, and expansions of bank=-qualified debt provisions, private-activity bonds and exempt facility bonds.

Meanwhile, the Senate Monday was set to take a procedural vote on the House-passed stopgap funding bill that funds the government through December and suspends the debt ceiling until December 2022. Senate Republicans have already said they would filibuster the bill to block the debt ceiling provision. The bill needs 60 votes to pass, and all Republicans have said they would oppose it.

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