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Huge budget reconciliation package may not move until the fall

Jennifer Shutt and Jessica Wehrman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — Final passage of a sweeping budget reconciliation package to enact President Joe Biden’s fiscal policy agenda on infrastructure, child care, education and more likely won’t occur until sometime this fall, according to the House Democrats’ point man on budget issues.

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth told reporters after the Democratic Caucus met with top White House officials on Tuesday that his plan was to mark up a fiscal 2022 budget resolution — a prerequisite for any filibuster-proof reconciliation bill — in mid-July. Democrats will then try to adopt the budget with reconciliation instructions on the floor before the August recess, he said.

The White House, meanwhile, is giving negotiators another week to 10 days to reach agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure package before fully moving to the reconciliation process, according to Yarmuth.

The Kentucky Democrat said his committee is preparing to write reconciliation instructions for about $4 trillion in spending but could remove any bipartisan agreement from those instructions.

“We’re assuming right now that everything will be done by reconciliation,” he said, including Biden’s infrastructure, child care and other proposals and perhaps some additions backed by congressional Democrats. “That doesn’t preclude a bipartisan agreement. If one happens, we just take that part out of the instructions. But right now, we’re assuming everything will be in.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries separately told reporters after the meeting that his party plans to “lean in” to the bipartisan discussions and try to find common ground.

 

“But if the obstructionists prevail, the self-described ‘Grim Reaper’ prevails, then we are going to have to proceed to get it done through the vehicle that is available to us through reconciliation, but that is a conversation for another day,” the New York Democrat said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Biden sent Congress two separate proposals earlier this year, totaling more than $4 trillion. The first would finance highways, bridges, clean energy subsidies, rural broadband access, home care for the elderly and more. The second would fund initiatives like universal preschool, two years of free community college, assistance with child care expenses and a new paid family and medical leave benefit.

Those items would be financed by an array of tax increases on corporations and wealthy households as well as enhanced IRS tax enforcement initiatives aimed at wealthier households, private firms and cryptocurrency assets.

Biden spent weeks negotiating with a group of Senate Republicans led by West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito before calling off those talks amid a stalemate. But the White House has since been working with a group of 10 senators — five from each party — to iron out details of an infrastructure proposal on which they tentatively agreed last week.

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