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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8:21 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Biden signs resolution to keep federal government open hours before midnight deadline

President Biden has signed the House-passed stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown and extend government funding through Dec. 3, according to the White House.

The bill passed the Senate earlier today with a bipartisan vote.

“Tonight, I signed into law the continuing resolution to fund the government through early December," Biden said in a statement. "I want to thank both houses of Congress—especially Senators Leahy and Shelby and Representatives DeLauro and Granger—for this bipartisan agreement, and for avoiding a government shutdown as we have seen so often in the past."

"It meets critical and urgent needs of the nation, including disaster relief for both red and blue states hit hard by Hurricane Ida and other devastating natural disasters, and funding to help us resettle Afghan allies in the United States following the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan. This funding will also keep up our fight against COVID-19 and—on this International Recovery Day—it will continue our battle against the opioid crisis," the President said.

Though there remains more to do, Biden said, “the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people.”

Back on Capitol Hill, different factions of his party are still negotiating over key parts of his domestic agenda, including his bipartisan infrastructure bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scrambling to build support for the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, personally calling Democrats and talking to members on the House floor as progressives threaten to tank it.

Pelosi told reporters she is closer to bringing moderates and progressives together as she works to secure enough votes to pass the Senate-passed bill, which would spend hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading roads, bridges, transit, rail, broadband, airports, ports and waterways.

A source familiar with the whip operation of the House Progressive Caucus tells CNN that the group just completed a status check with their members and their number of “no” votes remains “solid.”

CNN's Melanie Zanona, Daniella Diaz, Alex Rogers and Annie Grayer contributed reporting to this post.  

6:49 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Lawmaker says he's "a thousand percent" sure House will pass infrastructure bill tonight 

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

(CNN)
(CNN)

Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a key moderate, said he continues to stand by his prediction from earlier in the day that the House will vote on and pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal before the night is over.

"A thousand percent," replied the New Jersey congressman, when asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he stood by his optimistic forecast from earlier in the day.

"I'm optimistic," continued Gottheimer. "It's going to be a late night but we've got the Chinese food out and we're going to be eating late...by the time we finish this, we're going to deliver the largest infrastructure investment in a hundred years for our country."

Gottheimer expressed confidence in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's behind the scenes whip operation, saying he believed a sufficient number Democrats would choose to support President Biden's agenda by voting time.

"I think it's tough to vote against, if you're a Democrat right now, to vote against this critical part of the President's agenda," he said. "I don't think anyone wants to tank that...I'm totally optimistic that it's going to pass."

6:10 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Biden spoke to Pelosi this afternoon to get update on Democratic stalemate over his domestic agenda

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Biden spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this afternoon to get an update as she attempts to solve a stalemate within the Democratic party over his domestic agenda, according to a senior administration official. 

The funding bill passed by Congress earlier today is on the way to his desk right now. He will likely sign it on camera and could address the last-minute negotiations among Democrats, two people said. 

6:14 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

House progressives maintain their "no" votes on the infrastructure bill are solid, source says

From CNN's Ryan Nobles 

A source familiar with the whip operation of the House Progressive Caucus tells CNN that the group just completed a status check with their members and their number of “no” votes remains “solid.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the caucus, has said repeatedly that at least half of her members were prepared to vote "no" if there wasn’t a guarantee around the wider spending package. That would mean somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 "no" votes.

The source says that most progressives have not even been contacted and asked to switch their vote. They say only two members have been contacted at all, adding the calls did not come from Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

This comes as House leaders are working with the Senate and White House to negotiate the spending package with a goal of finding something palatable to win over the votes of enough progressive members to pass the infrastructure bill tonight.

Jayapal tweeted to fellow caucus members, telling them to “Stick to the plan. Pass both bills, together.”

See her tweet:

5:58 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

No votes currently expected in House before 9 p.m. ET tonight 

From CNN's Annie Grayer 

No votes are scheduled between now and 9 p.m. ET, according to new guidance sent out by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.  

Hoyer said the House is currently in recess, but more conversations are expected on the infrastructure bill later tonight.

"Members are further advised that the House is expected to complete consideration of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act today," Hoyer's floor update said.

6:37 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

The stopgap funding bill is on its way to the White House

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The stopgap funding bill passed in Congress to avert a shutdown is on its way to the White House, an official said.

Government funding was set to expire at midnight. The bill now heads to President Biden's desk to be signed.

5:44 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Manchin has actually been saying $1.5 trillion is his top line on Democrats' spending bill for months

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told reporters today that $1.5 trillion is the most he's willing to agree to for his party's plan to expand the social safety net – but that hasn't been a secret. In fact, Manchin has been saying that publicly for weeks, and privately for months.

The top line figure is consistent with a document from this summer obtained by Politico that shows more detail about what Manchin may want from a social safety net bill. A Senate Democratic aide confirmed to CNN the authenticity of the document Thursday.

Manchin threw out that same number during an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Sept. 12.

"It sounds like $1.5 trillion is your number?" Bash asked.

"I have looked at numbers. If we have a competitive tax code from a noncompetitive... doesn't help the working person that was done in 2017. That's in the $1-$1.5 (trillion) range, okay? If that's where it is, shouldn't you be looking at, what does it take now to meet the urgent needs that we have that we haven't already met?" Manchin said.

"It's not going to be at $3.5 (trillion), I can assure you," he also said in the interview.

Manchin said today that he has informed President Biden that was his number, and Biden said he needed more than that.

"I've never been a liberal in any way, shape or form," Manchin said. "I'm willing to come from zero to 1.5 (trillion)."

Before Manchin's public comments Thursday, many Democrats seemed unaware of where Manchin stood on his top line figure.

"I want to know what Joe's number is," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on Thursday. "And I want to remind him that we have increases in taxes on the wealthiest people in America, and on corporations that are not paying their fair share now."

"If you actually pay for what you're doing, as we're doing, it's not inflationary, and I think he understands that," Durbin added.

Watch the interview from Sept. 12:

More background on Manchin's figure: The Democrats' Build Back Better Act 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.

But Manchin has noted that Congress has spent $5.4 trillion since last March in response to the pandemic. In a statement Wednesday, Manchin asked, "At some point, all of us regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?" For many progressives, $1.5 trillion will not be.

CNN's Alex Rogers, Manu Raju, Ali Zaslav, Lauren Fox and Morgan Rimmer contributed reporting to this post.

5:11 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Here's how Pelosi is working behind the scenes to get support for the infrastructure bill 

From CNN's From Melanie Zanona and Daniella Diaz

(Andrew Harnik/AP)
(Andrew Harnik/AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she is closer to bringing the two sides together as she works to secure enough votes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

When asked by CNN how she would describe this stage of negotiations, she said “constant invigoration.”

Pelosi also said she is working closely with the White House this hour as Democrats try to see if they can actually pull together the votes to pass the bill tonight. 

“We are working together,” Pelosi said of her coordination with the White House.

Asked if there was going to be a caucus meeting tonight, Pelosi said, “it’s not out of the question, but we don’t have one planned right now.”

According to sources, Pelosi has been working furiously behind the scenes to build support for the infrastructure package, personally calling Democrats and talking to members on the House floor.

One of the sources said Pelosi has had success today at flipping some Democrats into the “yes” column. 

“The number [of no votes] is coming down,” the source said. 

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, confirmed that he and Pelosi were both whipping Democrats on the floor during the last vote series. 

“She’s doing it. It’s the Pelosi magic,” he said. 

Still, progressives are expressing confidence they have the numbers to tank the bill. 

Meanwhile, the number of Republicans who are expected to vote for the infrastructure bill is somewhere between 12 to 15, but if Dems are able to get the bill over the finish line, more Republicans may break ranks once they already know it’s going to pass. 

CNN's Annie Grayer, Kristin Wilson and Jessica Dean contributed reporting to this post.

4:23 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

House majority whip says he doesn't know if infrastructure vote will still happen today

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Lauren Fox 

Congress voted to avoid a government shutdown, but lawmakers in both chambers continue to negotiate over President Biden's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told CNN that he has not done any whipping to see where Democratic members stand on the bipartisan infrastructure bill even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said her intention is to vote on the bill tonight.

When asked by CNN if Democrats have the votes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Clyburn said, “I have not counted yet.”

When asked to confirm if that meant he had not started a whip of the vote, Clyburn confirmed he had not.

On whether he believes the vote will still be tonight Clyburn said, “I don’t know, the speaker makes that decision.”

CNN reported that even though there appears to be little path to get the bill passed today, Pelosi has been trying to see if she can get progressives on board. Progressives have threatened they have dozens of members ready to vote “no.”