House to cut recess short, take up Democratic budget plan


August 11, 2021 9:30 am

The House will interrupt its previously scheduled seven-week summer recess later this month to consider a budget resolution to kick off the process for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday that the chamber will return to session on Aug. 23 to consider the budget resolution, assuming Senate adoption likely later this week.

Hoyer did not specify how long the House would interrupt its recess, saying that the chamber “will remain in session until our business for the week is concluded.” Democrats are pushing to advance the multitrillion-dollar plan to expand the social safety net.

Aside from the budget resolution, Hoyer also said the House will likely consider a voting rights bill named after the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) while lawmakers are in Washington later this month.

The Senate began voting on amendments to the budget resolution earlier Tuesday following passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Under Senate rules, senators can force unlimited amendment votes in a process that’s likely to go on through Tuesday night and possibly into Wednesday.

House members left Washington for recess on July 30, after Democratic leaders were unable to round up the votes for legislation to extend the eviction moratorium. The Biden administration ultimately issued a targeted renewal last week under pressure from progressives.

The House was originally scheduled to remain in recess until Sept. 20 to accommodate the usual August break and the Jewish holidays in the first half of September. The House is currently scheduled to have “committee work weeks” during the first half of September in which panels conduct business virtually while lawmakers can spend more time in their districts.

It’s not clear how long the House will be in session this month, and it’s possible the chamber could go back into recess until Sept. 20 once the budget resolution is adopted.

“I will notify members of official schedule changes as soon as they are finalized, and I again wish you a very meaningful and productive August District Work Period,” Hoyer wrote in the notice to lawmakers.

It’s the second time in two years that the House has interrupted its traditional August recess. Last year, House Democratic leaders scheduled a rare Saturday session in August so lawmakers could pass legislation to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from making changes to its operations that threatened to slow delivery of mailed-in ballots.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate passed the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which provides investments in projects like roads, bridges, broadband and rail, by a vote of 69-30.

Centrist House Democrats have urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to allow a swift vote on the bipartisan legislation. But progressives — who want assurances for the $3.5 trillion Democratic-only spending plan on investments like paid family leave, an expansion of Medicare, and tuition-free community college — are insisting that a vote on the bipartisan plan be delayed until their priorities are adequately addressed.

Pelosi has pledged for months that she will not allow a vote on the bipartisan bill until the Senate also passes the larger package enacting Democratic priorities.

“They are, shall we say, compatible,” Pelosi said at an event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process for their $3.5 trillion spending plan to circumvent a GOP filibuster in the Senate. Once a budget resolution is adopted by both the House and Senate, committees will be tasked with writing legislation that meets spending guidelines.