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Schumer tees up timeline for Senate through the end of the year

The Senate has only three scheduled work weeks for the rest of 2021, with a long to-do list remaining.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at the Capitol on Nov. 2, 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at the Capitol on Nov. 2.Pete Marovich / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Senate is likely to vote on a military policy bill this week as it awaits cost estimates on the Build Back Better legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter Sunday, laying out an ambitious agenda ahead of the Senate's return to Washington.

With the House pushing back consideration of the Build Back Better bill as it awaits a comprehensive score from the Congressional Budget Office to appease House moderates, the Senate is “likely” to consider the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, this week, Schumer, D-N.Y., said in the letter.

Procedural steps also need to be taken before the Senate could even consider the BBB bill, and centrist holdouts in the Senate still have outstanding items. That punts floor consideration for BBB probably until after Thanksgiving in the Senate.

The Senate, he said, may also add text of the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA — which, among many elements, would address immediate supply chain issues — to the defense bill in hope of getting both done.

"I have had a number of conversations with Senators on both sides of the aisle and there seems to be fairly broad support for doing so, which would enable a USICA negotiation with the House to be completed alongside NDAA before the end of the year," he wrote.

Schumer has faced scrutiny from Republicans and prominent Democrats, such as House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., over the delay in advancing the defense bill, which the House passed in September. Congress has until the end of the year to send the measure to President Joe Biden’s desk, and the Senate must pass the legislation before both chambers form a committee to hash out differences between the two bills.

Schumer also said in the letter that the Senate needs to come to a final resolution on other major legislative priorities, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, and to continue confirming Biden's judicial and executive nominees, with the potential for debt limit legislation.