Latest on Congress as shutdown looms

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:41 PM ET, Wed September 29, 2021
25 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:50 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

Vote on stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown set for Thursday, Schumer says

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday night that Democrats reached an agreement with Republicans on a continuing resolution to fund the government and they will be voting on it tomorrow morning. 

“We have an agreement on the CR – the continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown – and we should be voting on that tomorrow morning,” Schumer said.

Schumer said beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday the Senate will hold several amendment votes before they vote on the continuing resolution. 

The House is expected to take the measure up once the Senate has acted. Government funding expires at midnight, but Democratic leaders have projected confidence that there will not be a shutdown. 

8:19 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

Pelosi says infrastructure vote will happen tomorrow— even as progressives threaten to sink it  

From CNN's Manu Raju

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks off the House floor following a procedural vote on suspending the debt limit on Wednesday, September 29.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks off the House floor following a procedural vote on suspending the debt limit on Wednesday, September 29. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she still plans to hold a vote on the infrastructure plan tomorrow — “that’s the plan” she said, adding she’s taking it “one hour at a time”

Pelosi also told CNN she does not support going through the process known as "budget reconciliation" to raise the national debt ceiling on just Democratic votes. (Reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered and can pass with just 51 votes in the Senate.)

Democrats have been resisting GOP calls to go this route over concerns over the unwieldy process on the floor that would open them 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; Republicans disagree.

And Pelosi went further than she has before, making clear she won't go that route. 

"Yes," she said when asked if she's ruled out using that process. "I mean, I have."

7:51 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

Progressive lawmaker on tomorrow's planned infrastructure vote: "We'll vote it down"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan


Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who leads a powerful progressive faction in the House, said she believes any vote planned for tomorrow on the infrastructure package will be delayed.

“If we do have a vote, then we’ll vote it down and then continue the negotiations so that we can actually deliver the entirety of the President's agenda," she said, after predicting the vote would be delayed.

Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, made the remarks just minutes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN that the vote on the hard infrastructure deal was still planned for Thursday.

The hard infrastructure package "might have to go down tomorrow and that's okay," added Jayapal. "We'll do that and then we will continue to negotiate."

7:03 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

Durbin urges Manchin to support economic package now: "Don't wait"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan


Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin urged his Democratic colleague, Sen. Joe Manchin, this evening to support Democrats' spending package now, rather than waiting until later in the year. 

"I would urge Joe, 'if you believe there's value and merit to the programs in the reconciliation bill, don't wait. Do it now,'" said Durbin, the Senate's second most powerful Democrat.

Durbin was responding to a statement Manchin made earlier in the afternoon, in which he indicated he'd be open to an economic bill by the end of the year but confirmed that he's not ready to vote for one now.

Manchin's decision could spell trouble for Democratic leadership in the House who hope to pass a hard infrastructure deal this week. Many progressive lawmakers in the caucus are linking that vote to the larger economic spending package.

"I would say to him, we can't delay these things," Durbin said, speaking on CNN. "Simply delaying them is just inviting a bad result... we're one heartbeat away from losing the majority in the United States Senate."

6:16 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

House votes to suspend debt ceiling

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

(House TV)
(House TV)

The House has voted 219-212 to suspend the nation’s debt limit until Dec. 16, 2022.

Two Democrats — Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Rep. Jared Golden of Maine — joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican to vote with Democrats for the bill. 

This bill now heads to the Senate, where it will fail.

4:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

Pelosi and Schumer meet with Biden at White House

From CNN's Phil Mattingly, Annie Grayer and Jason Hoffman

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are meeting with President Biden at the White House as his agenda hangs in the balance, sources familiar told CNN. 

The majority leader walked into the West Wing at 4 p.m. ET. 

The trio have been speaking almost daily for the last week by phone and that was originally supposed to be the case, according to a source.

That shifted in the hour before they arrived at the White House, though it’s unclear exactly why.

The meeting is expected to address the latest on the White House efforts with the two moderate senators, as well as the state of the scheduled House vote on the infrastructure package tomorrow, the source said.

4:44 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

House Republican leaders mount all-out campaign to sink infrastructure ahead of key vote tomorrow 

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Lauren Fox

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Wednesday, September 29.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Wednesday, September 29. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Republican leaders are launching an all-out campaign to sink a bipartisan infrastructure bill, as Democratic leaders struggle to unite their caucus around the legislation ahead of a high-stakes floor vote on Thursday.

While the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package contains popular items widely supported by both parties — and earned the backing of 19 Republicans in the Senate — GOP leaders in the House want to ensure that Republicans won’t be the reason the bill gets over the finish line, and have begun to crank up the pressure on their members.

​​Both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise have been making personal calls to members and talking to members on the floor, according to GOP sources. And while Republican leaders are not threatening members who back the bill, they are being forceful with their pitches, those sources said.

“Our argument is that infrastructure is a gateway drug to reconciliation,” a source familiar with the whip operation said.

The source expects between a dozen and 20 House Republicans will vote “yes” on the legislation, but said it wouldn’t be enough to offset the mass defections progressives are threatening if the bill comes to the floor without a deal on legislation to expand the social safety net through reconciliation.

“There won’t be enough Republicans to carry this if there is widespread opposition,” the person said. 

One Republican member said the whipping operation was “pretty intense.” Another Republican described the effort as an “8 out of 10.” And a third House Republican said “we’re very serious about it.”

While GOP leaders have acknowledged that there will be some Republicans who cross party lines, Scalise said at a press conference earlier this week that they will “work to keep that number as low as we possibly can.”

The scramble to limit GOP defections underscores just how high the stakes are for both parties. President Biden’s domestic agenda is on the verge of imploding as Democratic leaders struggle to unite the warring factions inside their party. And Republicans — keenly aware that the passage of infrastructure and reconciliation may be Democrats’ best hope for keeping their majorities next year — are eager to keep the spotlight on the disarray across the aisle.

CNN's Daniella Diaz and Ryan Nobles contributed reporting to this post.

3:57 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

White House: Biden "disappointed" in McConnell and GOP for refusal to work with Democrats on debt limit

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

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

President Biden is “disappointed” in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to work with Democrats to raise the country’s debt limit, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. 

Asked if the President was surprised McConnell wouldn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling as he has done in the past, Psaki paused before saying “surprised is an interesting way to phrase the question.” 

“I think he's disappointed more than surprised,” she added. 

The press secretary said President Biden and Senator McConnell have worked together in the past and also of course have their disagreements, but said there should be bipartisan support in raising the debt limit, as there has been in the past. 

“At the end of the day, protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, ensuring we're paying our bills, ensuring we're not going to have a devastating impact on American families, we're not going to see the markets drop is something that there should be bipartisan support for and there has been historically. So disappointed,” Psaki said. 

Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, have insisted that they won't join Democrats in a bipartisan vote to suspend the debt limit and have called for Democrats to act on their own to address the issue.

However, the White House pointed to multiple votes in the past, including three during the Trump administration, where both parties came together to raise the debt limit. 

“I think the President's view and our view has been the debt ceiling has been raised 80 times in a bipartisan fashion over the course of history, including three times during the prior administration, even right after the passing of $2 trillion in tax cuts that were not paid for,” Psaki said. 

“So in his view, this is something that has been done in a bipartisan manner, it should be something that is not political, because everybody should believe that we need to protect the full faith and credit of the United States, and we're disappointed that that's not the view shared by Republicans right now.”

3:29 p.m. ET, September 29, 2021

White House won't say whether Manchin or Sinema have a figure they'd accept for economic package

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

White House press secretary Jen Psaki answers questions during a press briefing on September 29.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki answers questions during a press briefing on September 29. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not say whether moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have given the administration a topline number that would be acceptable to them for the economic package, a key holdup to any movement on President Biden’s agenda.

“I would point you again to Sen. Sinema and Sen. Manchin,” Psaki said at Wednesday’s White House press briefing when asked if the duo has given the President a firm number to help move negotiations forward. “We knew that it would be a compromise, and that's exactly what it is. And as you know, the President has spent a great bit of time, relatively so, but given nothing more precious than the time of the President of the United States over the last two days engaging with each of these senators about the path forward. But I would leave it to them to describe what they're comfortable with."

Psaki declined to weigh in on a topline number multiple times throughout the briefing, passing the question off to the senators to announce what they are comfortable with.

When asked if the White House was frustrated that it doesn’t know where the senators' bottom line is, Psaki said that the administration doesn’t have the luxury of getting frustrated.

In response to a comment Speaker Nancy Pelosi made earlier Wednesday saying she hopes to see legislative text on the larger Build Back Better Act agreed to before a key Thursday vote, Psaki said the administration is working in lockstep with the speaker and has confidence in her leadership of the Democratic caucus.

“We certainly trust Speaker Pelosi. We're working in lockstep and around the clock to get both of these pieces of legislation done,” she said.