Policy Update

October 6, 2021


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State Government

Capitol Hill

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State Government

Legislature convenes special session

The future of Oregon's congressional and legislative district make-up was center stage in late September during a special session that began Monday, September 20. Even before the redistricting committees convened, it was clear that the legislative process of redistricting would likely face gridlock with Oregon House Minority Leader Rep. Christine Drazan (R-Canby) stating her caucus was "united in its opposition to Democrats’ proposed maps."

Oregon’s Senate quickly passed the congressional and legislative maps drawn up by the redistricting committees and the House committees followed suit the following day. Unfortunately, the process was postponed three days due to a person in the Capitol being positive for COVID-19, requiring the Capitol to hit the pause button out of an abundance of caution. This delay also forced lawmakers to cancel September’s legislative days, set to begin Wednesday, September 22.

The Oregon House reconvened Saturday, September 25 leaving only two days for the Legislature to fulfill its constitutional duty to approve district maps. Unfortunately, Republican House members were absent denying quorum and grinding the process to a halt. The week's events elevated Oregon to national media attention, with AP News and The Hill covering our redistricting process.

Just before 5pm on Monday, September 27, the legislature adjourned after successfully passing new congressional and state legislative district maps. This was the third time the legislature passed a set of maps since 1911. Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bills into law by the midnight deadline. 


Capitol Hill 

Continuing Resolution enacted to avoid government shutdown

Congress moved quickly Thursday, September 30 to pass legislation to keep the government funded through December 3, 2021 after removing language that Senate Republicans opposed that would have suspended the debt limit. The House passed a separate bill to suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022, but the prospects for this bill remain uncertain as Republicans stand firm in their opposition to raising the limit. Democrats may have to raise the limit using the reconciliation process, but Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has rejected the idea as too risky. While the deadline to raise the debt ceiling evolves, Treasury Secretary Yellen has said Congress has until October 18, 2021 until the government defaults.

Uncertain process ahead for Infrastructure and Build Back Better bills

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was hoping to hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (focused on bridges and roads) September 30 but faced obstacles from a fractured House Democratic Caucus due to opposition from progressives who want to see progress on the larger Build Back Better Act. Democratic House and Senate moderates have expressed concern about the overall size of that package and specific provisions, including those around drug pricing. Right now, the House version of the Build Back Better Act includes $10 billion for health center capital funding, $6.3 billion in workforce funding and other Medicare and Medicaid priorities. While negotiations continue, President Biden is directly speaking with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to get a deal on a framework for the bill.


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