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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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.

3:45 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says moderates are not negotiating in good faith

From CNN's Ryan Nobles, Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

Progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the moderate members negotiating on the massive Democratic spending package “conservatives” and accused them of not negotiating in good faith.

“What we are seeing from this conservative side, this small cadre of people, is a fundamentally unserious pattern of negotiation," she said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says there are still meetings on the infrastructure bill and that moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s statement made clear that there are a number of programs the West Virginia senator would be for.

Asked if he was confident the bill would pass if it came to the floor, Hoyer said, “I’m confident there are a majority of members who are for it.”

That statement is not the same as saying the votes are there. Progressives have threatened they have dozens of members ready to vote “no.”

3:25 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Pelosi is still trying to get enough votes on bipartisan infrastructure bill

From CNN's Manu Raju

Even though there appears to be little path to get the bill passed today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been trying to see if she can get progressives on board.

But there's deep skepticism that they can get the votes today, with virtually everyone on the leadership team privately conveying to the speaker they shouldn't move ahead with the vote today given that the votes aren't there.

Earlier today, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters that half of her caucus is still committed to voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, if the larger spending bill is not passed by both chambers.

CNN's Maureen Chowdhury contributed reporting to this post.

3:15 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

White House insists "some progress" has been made on infrastructure as future of vote remains uncertain

From CNN's DJ Judd

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to weigh in on Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.5 trillion top line on a reconciliation package during Thursday’s White House briefing, telling reporters, “As we've said many times, we're not going to outline private negotiations or private discussions, and we'll let the senators speak for that, as Senator Manchin did earlier today.”

“The way the President sees it, is that this is an ongoing discussion, an ongoing negotiation. Here's what we know. We know that timelines helped make progress. We've seen that play out over the course of the last couple of days. We know that compromise is inevitable. We've also seen that play out over the last couple of days. And right now, we're clearly in the thick of it," Psaki said.

Earlier Thursday, moderate Democratic Sen. Manchin made clear Thursday that $1.5 trillion was the price tag he was willing to settle on for his party's plan to expand the social safety net, putting him $2 trillion away from the lowest number progressive Democrats have said they would accept. Manchin said he 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)."

Pressed by CNN’s Phil Mattingly on the wide gap between Manchin’s proposal and the White House’s proposed $3.5 trillion price tag, Psaki struck an optimistic tone, saying, “I think the President views this as the last several days, and even longer than that, his view is we've made some progress. You've seen some members come down, you've seen some members come up. You've seen active negotiations, he's obviously been hard at work with them himself.”

“And what we clearly see is an agreement about the need to get this done, whether it's the infrastructure bill, or the reconciliation practice package, which has key priorities for the president,” Psaki added.

Psaki would not say if Biden planned to remain in Washington this weekend, telling reporters, “we're taking it hour by hour here on making a decision and determination about what's most needed.” 

“So, as it relates to what's even going to happen this afternoon, we're open, he's available, he's been making calls this morning, he's open to having visitors, he's open to going places, but we're going to make those decisions, hour by hour, so the weekend’s a little bit away, but I will tell you that this is the President's top priority right now,” she said, adding the White House is “working towards,” a framework that can unlock the infrastructure vote later today.

2:57 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Vice President Harris on infrastructure bill: "I’m optimistic it will get done"

From Jessica Dean and Manu Raju

When asked what it means if the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t pass the House today, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “I’m optimistic it will get done,” as she arrived at the US Capitol this afternoon. 

She did not answer when pressed if she thought it would get done today. 

1:30 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Here's a reminder of what is in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

 A "road closed" sign is posted at the construction site for the “Signature Bridge,” at I-95 and I-395 that replaces an older bridge on September 27, in Miami, Florida.
 A "road closed" sign is posted at the construction site for the “Signature Bridge,” at I-95 and I-395 that replaces an older bridge on September 27, in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Senate passed a massive, $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in August and now the House needs to vote on it before it goes to President Biden's desk to be signed into law.

The path to get to a final vote still remains uncertain. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House still plans to vote today on the bill, despite threats from progressive members of her caucus to tank it if it is not tied to the larger spending package, but she kept the door open on delaying it.

Here's what the bill would fund:

  • Funding for Roads and Bridges: The deal calls for investing $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, according to the summary. Included is $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, according to the bill text. The White House says it would be the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, which started in the 1950s.The deal also contains $16 billion for major projects that would be too large or complex for traditional funding programs, according to the White House.
  • Money for transit and rail: The package would provide $39 billion to modernize public transit, according to the bill text.The funds would repair and upgrade existing infrastructure, make stations accessible to all users, bring transit service to new communities and modernize rail and bus fleets, including replacing thousands of vehicles with zero-emission models, according to the White House.
  • Broadband upgrade: The bill would provide a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure, according to the bill text. t also aims to help lower the price households pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren't providing adequate service. It would also create a permanent federal program to help more low-income households access the internet, according to the White House fact sheet.
  • Upgrading airports, ports and waterways: The deal would invest $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and promote electrification and other low-carbon technologies, according to the White House.
  • Electric vehicles: The bill would provide $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, aiming to deliver thousands of electric school buses to districts across the country, according to the White House. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.
  • Improving power and waterways: The bill would invest $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, according to the White House. It calls for building thousands of miles of new power lines and expanding renewable energy, the White House said. It would provide $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, according to the bill text and another $50 billion would go toward making the system more resilient — protecting it from drought, floods and cyber attacks.
  • Environmental remediation: The bill would provide $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells, according to the White House.

Read more about what is in the bill here.

CNN's Manu Raju, Daniella Diaz and Kristin Wilson contributed reporting to this post.

2:41 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021

Democratic lawmaker says Manchin's price tag is "unconscionable" and "absurd"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, a progressive, harshly criticized moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's proposed spending limit today, suggesting he opposed Democrats' larger ambition because he would not personally benefit from it.

"This is absolutely absurd," said Bush, responding to Manchin's stated limit on a the price tag for Democrats' plans to expand the social safety net.

Bush went on to attack Manchin, suggesting he opposed Democrats $3.5 trillion proposal because he himself would not benefit from the government spending. 

"The fact that one person who is not affected by what would come out of this Build Back Better Act, he's not affected by it personally, but the people in our communities all across this country are," she said. "They deserve a voice."

"It is unconscionable that he can stand puffed-up and hold the line on something that hurts people now and to say that 'I'll toss you some crumbs right now and then hopefully you can say you ate,' it's not good enough, and I won't stand for it," she added.