Washington Update - July 11, 2021

Billy Moore    Dc2

Until now, the final weeks of February were the toughest test for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats, an exam they aced by enacting the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief American Rescue Plan. The next few weeks will be more consequential as Democrats seek to pass a bipartisan $1 trillion physical infrastructure bill and a partisan budget resolution setting up September passage of a human infrastructure bill costing $2 trillion or more under reconciliation procedures.

The initiatives depend on different coalitions and dynamics. The physical infrastructure bill, which Democrats plan to put on the Senate floor first, is supported by centrist Representatives, Senators and President Biden. Its elements – highways, broadband, clean water – are politically popular. The bill is opposed by former President Donald Trump, making it hard to weigh whether Republicans would pay a higher political price passing or killing it.

The budget resolution is Congress’ most partisan legislation. Democrats need near unanimity to pass it and are negotiating a pricetag between $2 and $6 trillion, with final resolution expected at the lower range. If it passes, the reconciliation package funding human infrastructure would be on the floor in September.

Success in the next few weeks creates more drama in September as House liberals demand Senate Democrats pass the partisan human infrastructure reconciliation bill before they vote for the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill.

Senators are scheduled to continue confirmation votes this week while House appropriators strive to finish reporting spending bills. Senate Democrats hope to begin marking up spending bills soon but a lack of bipartisan support forecasts little Senate progress.

On Friday, President Biden signed an order to expand competition and crack down on monopolistic practices, primarily in the agriculture, technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

New coronavirus infections are rising nationally, most rapidly in states that have the lowest vaccination rates.