On The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure

On The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure
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Happy Monday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: Democrats racing to complete a major part of their agenda amid mounting pressure and deadlines. We’ll also look at more posturing over the debt limit, the Fed’s plans for tapering stimulus and new Biden administration officials.

But first, vegan Air Jordans?

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For The Hill, I’m Sylvan Lane. Write me at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Aris Folley at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let’s get to it.

Democratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote 

House Democratic leaders are racing ahead with their plans to vote Monday on a bipartisan infrastructure package, brushing aside threats of opposition from both Republicans and liberals in their own caucus in a bid to fulfill a big chunk of President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s domestic agenda.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Buttigieg aims to use Tucker Carlson flap to spotlight paternity leave Judge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November MORE (D-Calif.) had promised moderate Democrats that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, passed by the Senate last month, would hit the House floor on Sept. 27. 

  • Despite growing signs that the bill is headed for defeat, the speaker said Wednesday that the timeline remains intact.

“We’re on schedule,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol, shortly after meeting with Biden at the White House to discuss the party’s strategy. 

The background: The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill has widespread support in both parties, sailing through the Senate by a vote of 69-30. But it’s been caught up in the broader debate over Biden’s economic agenda and the massive $3.5 trillion social benefits package.

The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong walk us through the sprint here.

Read more: President Biden on Wednesday launched a full-court press, hosting a series of White House meetings with lawmakers in a bid to unite warring factions of his own party behind his sweeping, multi-trillion-dollar economic agenda.

LEADING THE DAY

GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff

Republicans are warning that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) won’t blink as Congress barrels toward dual fiscal debt-shutdown cliffs, with massive economic consequences.

Democrats are seeking to suspend the debt ceiling through 2022, tying it to a short-term government funding bill and disaster relief, in a move aimed at squeezing McConnell and GOP senators by bringing the fight to a head just days before the Oct. 1 deadline for preventing a government shutdown.

As the collision course draws closer, McConnell, even while predicting that there won’t be a default, is showing no signs of swerving.

  • Republican senators stress that McConnell isn’t bluffing, saying they’ve seen no signs from him behind the scenes that he’s second-guessing the hard-line strategy or preparing to bargain with Democrats. 
  • McConnell has also used closed-door caucus meetings to privately pitch GOP senators on opposing a debt ceiling increase.

“He’s been very clear about it. And he certainly has expressed his hope that we would all do that,” said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Lobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-N.D.) about opposing the debt hike. “I think they’re on their own.”

TAPER TALK

Fed officials downgrade forecasts, signal easing of stimulus

Federal Reserve officials expect the U.S. to end the year with higher unemployment and inflation along with slower economic growth than they anticipated this summer, according to projections released Wednesday.

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Members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said that despite the forecasts, the pace of economic improvement is likely to warrant a decline in Fed stimulus within months.

"The progress of the economy continues to depend on the course of the virus, and risks to the economic outlook remain," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a Wednesday press conference, adding that the COVID-19 surge is causing "significant hardship and loss and slowing the economic recovery."

But the FOMC added in its September statement that "if progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted." I have more here.

BATCHELDER PARTY

Senate confirms Biden nominee for top Treasury tax position

The Senate advanced President Biden’s nominee Lily Batchelder to serve as assistant secretary for tax policy in the Treasury Department in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday.

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  • Batchelder, a former Obama administration official and law professor at New York University, will serve as senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Janet for developing and implementing tax policy in the key role.
  • She previously expressed support for Biden’s proposal to increase the country’s minimum tax on corporations' foreign earnings. The White House had proposed the increase to help offset costs for Biden’s infrastructure plan.

The confirmation comes at a crucial time when the president and Democrats are working to pass major spending plans essential to his economic agenda in his first year in office.

Aris has more here.

Good to Know

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Wednesday introduced stand-alone legislation that puts $1 billion toward Israel's Iron Dome air defense system, a day after House Democrats removed the provision from a government spending bill following pushback from some progressives. 

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • Four Senate Democrats sent letters to the creators of six Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) on Wednesday over concerns that there are “misaligned incentives” between them, early investors and retail investors.
  • Existing home sales fell in August following two consecutive months of increases, while once-soaring prices eased, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.
  • Business groups are pressuring centrist Democrats to oppose their party’s $3.5 trillion spending package that raises taxes on corporations, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warning it could pull endorsements for lawmakers in tough reelection races next year if they vote for the bill.
  • Pressure is building on Democratic leadership to ensure the party's $3.5 trillion social spending package includes more grant funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.