Infrastructure Month? Congressional Leaders Set October Deadline For Spending Bills

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Infrastructure Month? Congressional Leaders Set October Deadline For Spending Bills

Topline

The leaders of the House and Senate have set an October deadline for the completion of two major spending bills currently being negotiated in Congress, once again starting the clock on a process top Democrats have repeatedly been forced to delay over divisions within their party.

Key Facts

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a press conference on Sunday he wants to complete both a $1.2 trillion bill focused on core infrastructure and a larger budget reconciliation bill focused on social spending “in the next month,” according to a partial transcript provided by his office.

Schumer called the two packages “some of the most significant legislation to help working families” since former President Franklin Roosevelt’s new deal, adding that while it “takes a little time” to get them done, Congress is “on track” to pass both.

The comment comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats on Saturday there “must” be a vote on the infrastructure bill “well before” a surface transportation funding bill passed by Congress last week expires on October 31.

The implication in Pelosi’s letter is that the reconciliation bill will be completed by then, given progressive demands the package be passed before the infrastructure bill and Pelosi’s unwillingness to hold votes on bills that don’t have the votes to succeed.

Key Background

Pelosi struck a deal in August with a group of her most moderate members to hold a September 27 vote on the infrastructure bill. When it became clear progressives would hold firm on their commitment to oppose the infrastructure bill without first passing reconciliation, the vote was moved to Thursday, then Friday and finally postponed indefinitely.

Big Number

$3.5 trillion. That’s the proposed size of the reconciliation bill, but it likely won’t be the final price tag. President Joe Biden told House Democrats on Friday he expects the size to be closer to $2 trillion, and top Democrats in Congress, progressive leaders and the White House all said in Sunday show interviews the final price tag would likely be a compromise with moderates.

Chief Critic

Moderate Republicans have railed against Biden and Pelosi over the delayed vote and Biden’s framing of the two packages as linked. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), previously a strong supporter of the infrastructure bill, said Friday he was now undecided and that several other Republicans who planned to vote for the bill flipped to “absolute ‘no.’”

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