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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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.  

8:54 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

A Democratic stalemate continues on Capitol Hill. Here's what both sides are saying.

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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been working furiously behind the scenes this evening 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.

Liberal Democrats are expressing confidence they have the numbers to block the bill in order to 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.

However, Pelosi's effort to pass the infrastructure bill is complicated by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who said Thursday he would support a much smaller, $1.5 trillion bill expanding the social safety net.

White House officials are huddling with top aides to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and trying to see if they can get a deal with Manchin and fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on a framework of a social safety net package, according to a senator familiar with the matter.

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 President Biden's domestic agenda.

Progressives say they'll 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 will break ranks.

"I have never seen our caucus so strong," said Jayapal. "And I'm a very good vote counter, also, maybe not quite as good as Nancy Pelosi sometimes, but I'm excellent."

Read more about where things stand in negotiations here.

9:01 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

White House officials are meeting with Schumer along with Sanders and Sinema

From CNN's Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and Ali Zaslav 

White House officials have gone into Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office as efforts continue to try and cement a way forward on infrastructure and Biden’s wider economic package, the Build Back Better plan. 

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, a key moderate, and Bernie Sanders are also meeting with the officials. White House aides Susan Rice and Brian Deese declined to answer questions on how discussions are going as they walked over.

Before going to the meeting, Sinema met with Sen. Joe Manchin, another key moderate, in the basement of the Capitol for roughly 45 minutes this evening.

The effort underway is to find some kind of a framework at a time when progressives are demanding more answers on what moderates want. 

8:48 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

The Progressive Caucus is meeting at 9 p.m. ET tonight

From CNN's Annie Grayer

The Progressive Caucus will have a Zoom meeting at 9 p.m. ET, a source familiar with the meeting tells CNN.

House members were told that the earliest votes could happen was 9 p.m. ET but no votes have been announced officially yet.

Ahead of the meeting, Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal reiterated to Anderson Cooper tonight on AC360, "If I had to bet I would say there's not gonna be a vote tonight" 

"Right now there are not the votes, there is no pressure coming from the speaker to this because she understands, this is — as she said, this is for the children. She wants this build back better agenda just like the President does and just like 96% of Democrats do," she said when asked if she thought she and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were on the same page at this moment.

Anderson asked Jayapal flat-out if she thought Pelosi would bring a floor vote tonight, and she said, "I don't think so Anderson, of course anything could change but even if she does there just aren't the votes there and you know the speaker, he does not bring a vote to the floor that's gonna fail."

Jayapal also said, "..there is no deal on the table. Remember, this has to be a bill that not only Manchin and Sinema agree to, but that all of us in the House will agree to."