The House Takes Action on the Budget and Infrastructure/ Fall Congressional Outlook

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Chris Kearney | NSWA Vice President, Governmental Affairs

The House passed, by a party-line vote of 220-212, a multi-section procedural measure (H. Res. 601) which includes the adoption of the Senate-passed FY2022 budget resolution or “blueprint” (S. Con. Res. 14) and outlines a date certain for voting on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill.

With the House’s adoption of the FY22 budget resolution by both chambers, it now officially kickstarts the budget reconciliation process that will allow congressional Democrats to pass a ten year, $3.5 trillion annual expansive social spending and tax package aimed at implementing the President’s “Build Back Better Agenda,” including large swaths of President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs and Families Plans unveiled earlier this year.

The FY22 budget resolution directs 13 House and Senate committees to write and markup their legislative components of the reconciliation package by Wednesday, September 15.

To achieve this, each committee gets an “instruction” – think of it as an allocation of funding – that they in turn use to develop legislative language that will result in spending and/or revenue raised to achieve the $3.5 trillion annual spending target.   

Once the multiple bills are marked up and passed by the committees, the House Budget Committee will then bundle them together into a single, mammoth bill prior to a vote by the House, which is likely to occur during the week of September 20.

The House Ways and Means Committee – the tax writing committee that would consider elimination of percentage depletion and IDC – is scheduled to meet September 9 and 10, and then again on the 13th and 14th, to review and markup its contribution to the reconciliation package.

In the Senate, 12 Senate committees are also tasked by the FY22 budget resolution with writing their parts of the reconciliation package by September 15.

This is expected to be followed by debate and an amendments process – details yet to be determined – to the Senate bill prior to passage, with only a simple majority being required.

Given the tight timeframes, it is expected Senate Democrats will be working with their House Democratic counterparts behind-the-scenes over the next three weeks to come to agreement on various policy and spending items. It’s not clear yet if the Senate committees will formally mark up their legislative contributions or simply provide text directly to the Senate Budget Committee.  

H. Res. 601, mentioned above, also requires the House to consider the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act no later than Monday, September 27.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reached a deal that included this commitment last Tuesday with 10 moderate House Democrats, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who had initially threatened not to vote in favor of the FY22 budget resolution until the House voted on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill first.

Speaker Pelosi has pledged for months that the House would wait to vote on the bipartisan Senate-passed infrastructure bill until the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package was also passed by the Senate because of previous threats from progressives that they would oppose the infrastructure bill until their priorities were addressed in the reconciliation package.

Speaker Pelosi added in a statement on Tuesday that she is “committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27.”

In order for the House to realistically pass the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by September 27, both the House and Senate will need to have made significant progress on the budget reconciliation package prior to that date. So, there is skepticism at this stage those dates will be fully met, though many forces – not the least of which are the Moderate Democrats – are expected to keep the pressure on toward meeting that date. 

The bottom line: the process, the dates, and efforts at consensus across the chambers’ regarding reconciliation is very fluid. We will continue to track it closely.  

The Senate reconvenes on September 13th and the House on September 20th

To make matters more interesting, it should be noted that when they return, the two chambers will also  need to determine: 1) how to continue to fund the government – the fiscal year ends September 30 and only the House has passed all 12 approps bills, the Senate has passed none;  and, 2) the need to raise the federal debt limit looms – the government is expected to  hit the ceiling on the federal “credit card” borrowing limit – and will likely be necessary sometime in October….

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