Racing to Recess

by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International

A looming vacation always provides great motivation to get work done. This statement holds true for Congress as well as lawmakers prepare for the August recess. The Senate passed a procedural vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package with 17 Republicans joining 50 Democrats to move the bill forward, although this does not mean they will all support the final bill.

At the time of this writing, the legislative text of the bill is still under construction. According to a White House summary, the bipartisan agreement would provide the following:

• $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects;
• $73 billion for electric grid upgrades, including major transmission investments;
• $66 billion for rail and Amtrak improvements;
• $65 billion for broadband expansion;
• $55 billion for clean drinking water;
• $39 billion for public transit;
• $17 billion for ports and $25 billion for airports;
• $8 billion worth of new tax credits for clean energy-related manufacturing.
• $7.5 billion to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
• $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries; and
• $3.5 billion program to create four regional “hubs” for direct air capture projects.

Approximately half of the new spending would be offset by redirecting $205 billion in unspent pandemic relief funds appropriated in earlier legislation. We are awaiting firmer confirmation that the state and local COVID relief funds were not used as part of the offsets for this package. The concern is if those funds are repurposed, it could eliminate a significant source of funding for nonprofits. Another $53 billion in offsets come from unspent unemployment benefits from states that decided to cut-off enhanced benefits early. Lastly, $28 billion could be raised from a proposal to increase reporting requirements for cryptocurrency.

In addition to the infrastructure package, Majority Leader Schumer also wants to pass a budget resolution before the Senate goes into recess. The budget resolution will provide instructions for a reconciliation bill to be written later this year. The reconciliation bill will likely include components of the administration’s American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan that would not garner enough bipartisan support to pass on their own.
The House is expected to recess until September 20, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said repeatedly that she will not bring a bipartisan infrastructure package to the House floor until a reconciliation package containing the rest of Biden’s economic agenda is ready. We will continue to keep our advocates informed of pertinent updates as these packages move forward.