Washington Update - November 14, 2021

Billy Moore    Dc2

President Joe Biden will sign the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday – a significant accomplishment sought but not achieved by former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. In addition to expanding existing highway and transit programs, the bill opens hundreds of billions of dollars for grant opportunities to fund local priorities for transportation, broadband, water, and ports.

The bill’s passage with support from Republicans has created an intra-party estrangement as infrastructure supporters receive death threats.

Democrats, including President Biden, are challenged in their efforts to promote the achievement while arguing it will help tame inflation. Americans are worried inflation, now at 6.2 percent per year, is erasing economic and wage gains – causing pain for families and the Democrats.

Inflation concerns also complicate the outlook for the $1.75 reconciliation bill now pending in the House. Should a cost estimate be completed by the Congressional Budget Office, the bill could be on the House floor this week. It’s prospects in the Senate are darkening, however, as Democratic moderates renew their worries the bill could add inflation momentum.

The calendar is complicated as well. Congress is in session this week, will be out for Thanksgiving week and then should remain in Washington until their work is complete on reconciliation, appropriations, the Defense authorization and (if necessary) the debt limit.

Should Democrats complete their agenda, building on the foundation of the American Rescue Plan and the infrastructure bill, the congressional session will be historically successful. Failure on reconciliation, a government shutdown or a debt default would likely erase any sense of triumph.

The battle to contain the coronavirus remains key to the public’s outlook. Infections are down in southern states, where they had been the highest, but are rising in the Midwest – with the unvaccinated the most vulnerable to severe disease.