All eyes will be on Congress this week as lawmakers return from August Recess and committees work to finalize their portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal late last week, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) called for a “strategic pause” in action on President Biden’s economic agenda, calling for a “significantly” smaller reconciliation bill. While Senator Manchin’s vote will be critical to advancing the package through the upper chamber, this op-ed does not significantly change the state of play. This is because since the beginning, it has been understood that the $3.5 trillion price tag is merely a ceiling and that the package would eventually have to be whittled down to get it across the finish line. However, it will take some time to iron out these issues and negotiations will likely have to continue into October.
Additionally, on Tuesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent Congress an “urgent” spending request for the approval of a "short-term" extension in government funding to avoid a partial shutdown on October 1st. Government funding is set to lapse at the end of September under current law, which means that lawmakers would need to authorize a temporary continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding at their current levels for a set period of time. Acting OMB Director Shalanda Young stated in the letter that, “we are also calling on Congress to include additional funding in a CR to help address two other urgent needs: responding to recent and ongoing natural disasters, and meeting our commitments to our Afghan allies and partners.”