To-Do List for Congress Includes Must-Pass Items

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September 27, 2021

As members of Congress reconvene in Washington after the Labor Day recess, their long to-do list includes three bills that must be dealt with before the end of September: the infrastructure bill, the debt limit increase, and legislation to fund the government after September 30, 2021. Failing to pass any of these three bills could have significant impacts on the U.S. and global economies.

Funding the Government Past September 30

Rarely in the last 25 years has Congress completed the appropriations process that funds the federal government by the end of the fiscal year, September 30; instead, Congress routinely passes continuing resolutions to allow more time to complete the process. This year, the appropriations process got off to a very slow start due to the special elections for Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate and the resulting change in control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat. If a continuing resolution is not passed before September 30, large sections of the federal government will shut down. During the 2013 shutdown, 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, and most sectors of the economy were negatively affected.

Raising the Debt Limit

On September 8, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress by letter that the federal government had reached its debt limit (the ceiling past which the government cannot borrow), and the Treasury was using certain measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis to give Congress time to find a solution. In these situations, Congress will usually raise the debt limit. Yellen’s letter outlined negative consequences that could happen if the debt limit is not increased, including irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets.

Infrastructure Legislation

The Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in early August, and the legislation is now being considered in the House. This is a must-pass bill because it authorizes and directly funds certain portions of the national transportation system. Federally funded transportation programs such as Amtrak and air traffic control are currently operating under an extension that is set to expire September 30. If Congress does not pass either the infrastructure bill or another short-term extension for transportation, the nation’s transportation system will have to shut down. According to Politico, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer expects the House to vote on the infrastructure bill on September 27 or 28.

Previously, IIBEC signed an industry letter supporting passage of the infrastructure bill because it would fund numerous programs and projects that could create substantial opportunities for IIBEC members.

Link to the CEC building codes executive summary https://www.energy.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/CEC_2022_EnergyCodeUpdateSummary_ADA.pdf

IIBEC Director of Government Relations John Boling

Boling joined IIBEC in early 2021. He focuses on increasing IIBEC’s influence on federal, state, provincial, and local public policy, helping shape codes and standards, expanding IIBEC’s influence in the building industry, and increasing the relevance and value of IIBEC’s policy positions. You can reach him at jboling@iibec.org.