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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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.”

3:53 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Congress passes bill to avert government shutdown

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav

The House just approved the Senate-passed stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown by extending government funding through Dec. 3. The vote was 254-175, with some Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

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

In addition to funding the government, the stopgap bill will "provide funding to help process and resettle Afghan refugees and finally deliver on critical disaster aid for Americans battered by storms and wildfires this summer," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

4:02 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

White House blasts Republican lawmakers over debt ceiling fight

From CNN's DJ Judd

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Senate Republicans for blocking attempts to raise the debt ceiling, telling reporters at Thursday’s White House Press briefing: 

Republicans are playing politics with an economic catastrophe, and they're treating a calamity for working families like a DC game.”  

Psaki blasted a number of lawmakers by name, telling reporters, “Senator Rick Scott, and this is a real quote, I will note, ‘This is going to be a ball, I'm going to have so much fun.’ That's about the debt limit, Senator Kevin Cramer, ‘It's sort of fun to watch,’ and Senator Cornyn said yesterday that Republicans would use every tool at their disposal to slow Democrats from doing this on their own,” she said. 

“What we're trying to do, right now is… do it on our own, that is what Leader Schumer is working to proceed and working to move forward on,” Psaki added. “And obviously, as you know, Republicans have blocked that effort. So of course, we're going to continue to press, we're not going to let up on that, on Republicans to do what's responsible, to protect the full faith and credit of the United States as has been done 80 times in the past." 

Some background: Democrats have resisted GOP calls to pass a debt ceiling increase through the budget reconciliation process, citing concerns that the unwieldy process would open them up to a flurry of politically charged amendments on the Senate floor.

Democrats argue it would take too long to go through that process and stave off default, though Republicans disagree. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went further Wednesday, making clear she does not plan to utilize that option. "Yes," she said when asked if she's ruled out using that process. "I mean, I have."

Shortly after Thursday’s briefing, the White House released a list of comments from Republican lawmakers on the debt ceiling limit, blasting “cheap political brinksmanship” from the GOP. 

3:19 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

NOW: House holds final vote on bill to avert government shutdown with just hours to go until deadline

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav

(House TV)
(House TV)

The House is holding a final vote on the Senate-passed stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown by extending government funding through Dec. 3. The bill is expected to be approved in the chamber. 

Government funding will expire at midnight Thursday, but Democratic congressional leaders, who control both chambers of Congress, have projected confidence there will not be a shutdown.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, lawmakers have no room for error.

Congressional Democrats initially attempted to address the government funding issue alongside the debt limit, a strategy that was thwarted by Republicans in the Senate who have insisted that Democrats must act alone on the debt limit.