Schumer Begins Process to Pass Broad Infrastructure Package Through Reconciliation

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will move ahead on Wednesday with the partisan process of reconciliation, which only requires 50 votes to pass the Democrats’ broad infrastructure package. He will be working with the Senate Budget Committee to push President Joe Biden’s American Jobs and Family Plans through the Senate with no GOP votes in July.

Schumer made the announcement Tuesday as the White House was still in negotiations with a group of bipartisan senators about a scaled-down infrastructure package.

“Tomorrow, I’m convening Senate Budget Committee Democrats with @POTUS’s budget-they can begin their work, especially on the American Jobs and Family Plans. After the Trump presidency, Dems. Have a lot of work ahead to get America back on track. We’re on track to get the job done,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.

The meeting that Schumer noted would include 11 members of the Senate Budget Committee, in which the Democrats would first discuss a budget resolution for the 2022 fiscal year.

“Now that President Biden’s fiscal ‘22 budget request has been received by Congress, the Budget Committee can begin the important work of producing a budget resolution,” Schumer said. Passing the budget resolution will set the stage for passing Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the nation’s infrastructure needs quickly must be urgently addressed.

“Second of all, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, billionaires are paying zero in taxes. The way we should, to the degree that we can, fund infrastructure and the other needs of the American people is by demanding that the wealthiest people and large, profitable corporations, start paying their fair share of taxes. I think, in both of those respects, the so-called bipartisan bill is lacking.”

Sanders said in addition to traditional infrastructure like roads, Democrats want to fund childcare, health care, housing, and address climate change in the package, which is why they are moving forward themselves.

“We’ve got to do those things. So, it’s not about roads and bridges—it is, but it’s more than that. And these projects have got to be funded in a progressive way, and we’ve got to go forward, now. And we are working on it as quickly as we can,” Sanders said.

The progressive senator said he prefers to do one large reconciliation package.

“Well, my own preference, as I said many, many times, I think it’s easy to do it in one. Other people are arguing, you know, a more limited bipartisan followed by a larger reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who is one of the main sponsors of the Green New Deal Climate Package, said she would be willing to vote in favor of a scaled-down infrastructure package if there was a guarantee that a larger package that covered the many progressive items in the American Jobs Plan and Family Plan would pass the Senate through reconciliation.

“And I think that that the certainty of that second piece is going to determine a lot on our stances on the bipartisan piece,” Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday that her bipartisan group’s meeting with the White House left her hopeful that they could come to common ground on the scaled-down infrastructure package.

“Bottom line is $579 billion of new spending above the baseline over five years,” said Collins.

“There are a number of pay fors that have been discussed. One is the Mark Warner-Roy Blunt revolving fund. Another is indexing but not hiking the gas tax so be indexed going forward, which means that keeps that constant in inflation-adjusted dollars, In another, the only user fee is electric vehicles which are free riders now and aren’t paying anything so there be some sort of, miles traveled, or some other assessments so that they can help pay for the roads and bridges that they travel on,” Collins added.

She said repurposed COVID-19 funds could also be a way to pay for the infrastructure, such as returned unemployment that would amount to close to $100 billion.

Republicans have said they will not support any spending bills that try to pay for the infrastructure by reversing the Trump-era tax cuts from the Republican’s 2017 tax legislation, an accomplishment that the GOP says strengthens the economy.

The Epoch Times reached out to Schumer and Collins’s offices for comment.

Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq