With just four legislative days left before the Senate’s week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s still unknown when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer bring the legislation to create a commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol Hill riot to the floor for a procedural vote that will test whether if it can get the 60 votes needed to advance and pass.
Right now, the measure is expected to fail, as a CNN count shows there are not 10 Republican senators who would vote to override a GOP filibuster. Republicans are concerned the commission proposal has become partisan, is duplicative of law enforcement and congressional investigations, and would slow down implementing needed security reforms at the Capitol, which is now without the National Guard contingent that was brought in when the riot happened almost five months ago. The key vote may happen this week, but could slide past the weeklong Memorial Day recess.
That’s because Republicans are indicating they expect a China competition bill that’s on the floor now – the Endless Frontiers Act – may not get completed before the end of the week.
The measure, which is meant to counter China’s increasing superiority in manufacturing and global supply chains, boosts technology funding for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, and funds upgrades to the US supply chain. It also confronts China on intellectual property theft and revamps the National Science Foundation to better position it to help spur US manufacturing.
The bipartisan bill is considered a bellwether for any future interparty deals, although with almost all the other top items on President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda imperiled, it’s not evident now that the bipartisan spirit will carry over.
Here’s where the issues stand:
We’re one week away from the White House’s soft Memorial Day deadline for significant progress on infrastructure. CNN’s Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox report the talks are on the brink of falling apart, with major disagreements on the size and scope of the bill and how to pay for it.
The White House lowered its price tag by $500 billion to $1.7 trillion last week, and it’s unclear if Republicans will present an additional counter-offer, with the GOP group meeting Monday to discuss next steps.
In a sign that the White House is gearing up to go it alone via reconciliation, a shift in messaging from senior adviser Cedric Richmond, who told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sunday that Biden “wants a deal” and “wants it soon,” but, “he will not let inaction be the answer. And when he gets to the point where it looks like that is inevitable, you’ll see him change course.”
A decision could come from the parliamentarian this week, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the influential Senate Budget Committee, is waiting in the wings, and is prepared to work on a budget resolution – the first step in the reconciliation process – as soon as the White House unveils its budget. The expectation, according to aides, is that process will begin in June although that deadline could slip again if rank-and-file members want more time for bipartisan talks.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware unveiled a $340 billion surface transportation bill over the weekend that could serve as a potential building block for a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
On voting rights, as CNN reported Friday, Senate Democrats will meet privately Wednesday and will continue deliberations on how to advance S1. It is a top legislative priority for Chuck Schumer, but currently doomed to fail in the Senate because it is opposed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, along with every Republican.
Some Democrats want the bill dramatically changed to bring on board Manchin and enough Republicans to pass it.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming dodged a question about linking Donald Trump’s election lies and GOP voting rights laws, telling Axios on HBO in an interview that aired Sunday night, voter fraud, “certainly exists. I will never understand the resistance for example to voter ID, I think you ought to have to show ID to go vote.”
But, she said, “There’s a big difference between that and a president of the United States who loses an election after he tried to steal the election and refuses to concede, and then continues to say the election was stolen.”
CNN’s Maeve Reston and Jessica Dean report lawmakers are still hopeful they’ll make a deal on police reform, but they will not meet their own self-imposed Tuesday deadline of the anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey told CNN’s Bash that the core negotiating group has made “meaningful progress,” but that Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on how to deal with qualified immunity, which shields police officers from civil lawsuits. Republicans oppose getting rid of qualified immunity.
“We need to, at some point, get qualified immunity. That’s what I’m determined to at this negotiating table to get,” Booker said on SOTU. “This is one of the big issues that we’re working very hard to see if we could bridge this wide gulf.”
Booker, Tim Scott and Karen Bass are all still talking, and Bass is sticking around DC this week, even as the House is out, to keep the talks going.
Background checks and gun legislation
A series of mass shootings over the weekend left at least 11 people dead and another 69 injured.
There were at least 12 mass shootings between Friday night and Sunday, according to CNN reporting and an analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, local media and police reports. And, so far this year, more than 7,500 people have died from gun violence across the US, according to that archive.
But legislation on background checks is stalled in the Senate. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said late last week time is running out, and he wants to move forward by voting on House-passed bill that Republicans are sure to block. The vote, while symbolic, could put pressure on Republicans to demonstrate to their constituents they are responding to the stunning spate of mass shootings in the country.
Postal Service reform
This is a bipartisan measure that could actually pass. The measure was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators last week and aims to change the bleak financial straits of the US Postal Service by eliminating the very unpopular and burdensome mandate to pre-fund the retirement savings accounts for every employee for decades ahead of time. It also lowers the requirements on first-class mail delivery, and for now at least makes room for former President Donald Trump’s pick to stay on as Postmaster.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes, Daniella Diaz, Ali Zaslav, Maeve Reston, Phil Mattingly and Jessica Dean contributed to this report.