The U.S. Senate faces a heavy legislative agenda in the remaining weeks of 2021 as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned of possible long sessions to finish President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” investment bill, raise the debt limit and consider voting rights reforms.
In a “dear colleague” letter to fellow Senate Democrats, Schumer emphasized his “goal” of passing the $1.75 trillion bill investing in expanded social programs and climate change solutions “before Christmas and get it to the president’s desk.”
Any changes the Senate makes to this House-passed bill would have to be approved by the House of Representatives before it could be sent to Biden for signing into law.
The Senate parliamentarian still has to review many components of the legislation, including an immigration provision, and decide whether they qualify to be included in the bill under a special “budget reconciliation” process that imposes tighter controls than regular legislation.
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department this month could run out of ways to finance federal borrowing, and Schumer included a debt limit increase bill in his list of measures to be tackled. Republicans have vowed to not vote for a debt limit hike.
For weeks now, the Senate also has been struggling to pass a sprawling defense authorization bill amid Republican roadblocks.
Due to the time it may take to process those items, “without cooperation, Senators should prepare for potential weekend votes,” Schumer warned his colleagues.
Along those lines, over the past several months, Republicans repeatedly have blocked Senate debate on voting rights bills. Nonetheless, Schumer included this initiative in his December goals. He did not say how he would advance legislation if Republicans engage in an expected filibuster that would require 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to break a deadlock.
Schumer said there also would be memorial services this week for the late Senator Bob Dole, who died on Sunday.