Federal Legislative Update

Senators continue negotiating the details of the bipartisan infrastructure deal that was agreed to in principle a few weeks ago. The framework will likely incorporate the highway and surface transportation bill that already has strong bipartisan support.

While the bipartisan group had planned to turn the framework into formal legislative text this week, the group has been unable to finalize certain provisions, including how the plan will be paid for.

To speed up the process, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would like senators to begin considering the bill next week. Some Republican senators have pushed back against this accelerated timeline, threatening to vote against proceeding until they see formal legislative text and budget scoring. Despite some uncertainty over the bill’s details and timing, however, senators remain optimistic that an agreement will be reached soon. The bipartisan group of senators met with senior White House officials Thursday afternoon who echoed this sentiment.

Also this week, Senate Democrats and the White House announced a $3.5 trillion spending target for a budget reconciliation package, which would require the support of all fifty Senate Democrats. While text of the package has not been released, the package will include a variety of climate and clean energy provisions, including a clean energy standard, funding for a Civilian Climate Corps and climate bank, weatherization programs, and tax incentives and credits for electric vehicles and renewable energy sources.

The package also includes tax increases not included in the bipartisan infrastructure package. While many Democrats praised the package, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he was “very, very disturbed” about the package’s climate change provisions. The package will not be able to pass without his vote.

Viewing the bipartisan infrastructure framework and reconciliation package as two separate tracks, Leader Schumer will plan to address the bipartisan package first, with the hopes of passing it before turning to the partisan reconciliation package.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not determined the House’s timeline, but House Democrats similarly face a tightrope of balancing interests from progressive and moderate Members. Senate Republicans also face a challenging decision over whether to still support the bipartisan package given a looming partisan reconciliation package.

The Senate’s number two Republican, Sen. John Thune (R-SD, said this week: “I want to try and look at the infrastructure bill on its own. But it’s awfully hard, when they continue to link them publicly, not to view them through that lens. That complicates passage of the infrastructure bill for a lot of Republicans.”

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