by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International
After a flurry of activity in the Senate, both chambers are now in recess for the time being. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan infrastructure package, followed by the partisan passage of the budget resolution which only received support from Democrats. Keep reading to learn the key items of interest to Goodwill® and the people we serve.
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The bill authorizes nearly $550 billion for infrastructure projects, as well as to renew existing programs that were set to expire in September. The bill includes a section on nonprofit energy efficiency which was supported by a number of nonprofits including Goodwill. If passed, the measure creates a pilot program to award grants for energy-efficiency materials upgrades to nonprofit buildings. It also includes a new grant competition for eligible entities to pay the Federal share of associated career skills training programs under which students concurrently receive classroom instruction and on-the-job training for the purpose of obtaining an industry related certification to install energy efficient buildings technologies.
Although less than the amount proposed by the Administration, the bill includes $65 for broadband support. This includes grants to states for deployment, support for rural areas, and grant programs to promote digital inclusion and equity for communities that lack the skills, technologies, and support needed to take advantage of broadband connections. The bill also adds additional funds to the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which subsidizes service for households meeting need-based criteria and reduces the subsidy from $50 per month to $30 per month.
The budget resolution includes instructions and the amount of money each committee has as they craft the reconciliation bill. Provisions focus largely on infrastructure and jobs, families, healthcare, and climate.
Infrastructure & jobs
- Increases investments in public housing, sustainable housing, housing production and affordability
- Establishes the first Civilian Climate Corps
- Invests in workforce development and job training programs
- Provides green cards to millions of immigrant workers and families
- Rehabilitates aging Veterans Administration buildings and hospitals
- New economic development investments to revitalize communities
- Expands access to capital and markets for small businesses
- Establishes universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and a new childcare benefit for working families
- Makes community college tuition-free for two years
- Extends a tax cut for families with children (CTC/EITC/CDCTC)
- Increases the Pell Grant award
- Creates a Federal Paid Family and Medical Leave benefit
- Extends the recent expansion of the Affordable Care Act in the American Rescue Plan
- Invests in home and community-based services to help seniors, persons with disabilities, and home care workers
- Creates a federal health program for Americans in the “Medicaid gap”
- Provides clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives and grants
- Provides new consumer rebates for home electrification and weatherization
- Provides environmental justice and climate resilience
Concerns exist about the resolution’s inability to raise the debt ceiling and the overall $3.5 trillion cost, but Democrats aim to pay for the plan through corporate and individual tax reform and increased IRS enforcement of existing rates. At least two Democrat Senators have expressed unease about the cost. Ultimately the reconciliation bill will need all 50 Democratic Senators to support the measure in order for it to pass.
Both the infrastructure bill and the budget resolution have to pass the House. If the House amends either bill they would go back to the Senate so they can be conferenced. Each chamber has to pass an identical bill in order for it to move on to the President. The House will take a break in their recess and return on August 23 to vote on the budget resolution.
Once the budget resolution passes, House and Senate Committees will craft their respective portions of the reconciliation bill. They are working towards an ambitious deadline of September 15. Given other deadlines and priorities including the debt ceiling, surface transportation program expiration, national flood insurance program expiration, the end of the fiscal year when government funding runs out, the federal eviction moratorium expiration and a number of religious holidays, Labor Day, and the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – the reconciliation bill may not be taken up until October.
Speaker Pelosi has said that the House will not vote on the infrastructure bill until after the Senate passes the reconciliation bill. Progressive Democrats want to ensure that the social (human infrastructure) programs are approved before they endorse the infrastructure bill, while a number of moderate Democrats are urging the Speaker to take up the infrastructure bill earlier.
We’ll continue to keep our advocates updated as these measures move forward.