JULY 16, 2021
House Appropriations Bills Advance Out of the Full Committee
Plus, an infrastructure & budget update
With the Congressional August recess scheduled for just two weeks away, a sense of urgency has taken over Washington on major agenda items. This week, we saw Committee action on FY22 Appropriations markups, a release in the Senate of a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that would allow President Biden to move major parts of his “human” infrastructure package, ongoing negotiations to lock in the bipartisan deal on “hard” infrastructure, and continued soundings on police reform.
Here’s What You Might Have Missed
FY22 Appropriations Markups Occur & Pass Full Committee; Report Language Released. This week, several of the 12 appropriations subcommittee bills passed the full committee, including:
- Energy & Water (Full report; full bill; full summary)
- Labor, Health & Human Services, & Education (Full report; full bill; full summary)
- Transportation, Housing, & Urban Development (Full report; full bill; full summary)
- Commerce, Justice, & Science (Full report; full bill; full summary)
- Defense (Full report; full bill; full summary)
- Homeland Security (Full report; full bill; full summary)
These early versions of FY22 spending reflect the President’s and Congressional Democrats’ shared priority for an historic leap in domestic spending while keeping defense spending effectively level. As we’ve reported to you before, their objective is to increase the amount of existing spending as well as create new programs to tackle key priorities, including climate change, racial and economic equity, and strengthening US domestic and global competitiveness. The funding levels we are seeing in the House are likely the high water mark, as the Senate will need to negotiate with Republicans who will likely press for less spending overall to blunt some of the President’s social priorities.
Ongoing Infrastructure Negotiations. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the Senate will cast a key procedural vote next Wednesday, which will be the first real test of whether the Senator bipartisan deal on hard infrastructure can advance. In this bipartisan infrastructure framework, which totals nearly $1 trillion, the pay-fors continue to remain a challenge, with one of the formerly most popular ways to pay for the bill – enhanced IRS enforcement – seeming to be on the way out. Negotiators are also working on details related to water infrastructure and broadband. While Democrats expressed optimism about meeting the Wednesday deadline, Republicans are skeptical. In the event that these negotiations do not pan out, it is likely that major pieces of the bipartisan package will be absorbed into a Democrats’ “go at it alone” strategy on both infrastructure and the broader budget.
Democrats Strike an Internal Deal Budget Deal. This week, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee struck a deal to the tune of $3.5 trillion. The proposal won plaudits from across the Democratic spectrum – from Chairman Bernie Sanders to “business-oriented” Democrat Mark Warner. Among other items, provisions will include:
- Extending the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and separate child and dependent care tax credits.
- Creating 80% clean electricity and 50% economy-wide carbon emissions by 2030.
- Providing more funding for a clean energy standard, clean energy and EV tax incentives, and federal procurement of clean technologies.
- Universal Pre-K, childcare, and community college, as well as increased funding for HBCUs, Pell Grants, and nutrition assistance.
Democrats are also seeking to put provisions such as the PRO Act (a massive priority for organized labor), expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and vision, and immigration reform into a final bill. As a reminder, this package must secure all 50 Democratic votes, and all the provisions must be related to revenue – so, it is possible that some of the more legislative issues will be stripped from the bill.
Here’s What You Should Be Watching
Police Reform. Once again, police reform negotiators have kicked the can down the road and extended their “drop dead” deadline, as crime in major cities and states across the country surges. Lead Republican negotiator Sen. Tim Scott (SC) indicated to the press that this would be the final extension – and if a deal was not reached before the end of this month, negotiations would effectively end.
What Comes Next on COVID-19? Yesterday, Los Angeles County announced that it was reinstating an indoor mask mandate as a result of the Delta variant. There are noted surges in areas across the country that are considered under-vaccinated. We are following these developments closely and how they will impact return to in-person activities in Congress and federal agencies.