Democrats Strike a Deal, Pass $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint

Democrats Strike a Deal, Pass $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint

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Plus, rising Covid concern
Tuesday, August 24, 2021

House Democrats got it done Tuesday, striking a deal that cleared the way for passage of their $3.5 trillion budget resolution and set up an infrastructure vote — along with some possible further infighting next month. It’s also a sad day, as we note the death of Rolling Stones drumming great Charlie Watts. Here's what's going on.

House Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget After Pelosi, Centrists Strike a Deal

The House on Tuesday adopted a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, taking a major step toward enacting President Biden’s ambitious economic agenda that calls for increased spending on education, health care and renewable energy.

The 220-212 vote along partisan lines followed days of negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a group of centrist Democrats who threatened to withhold their support unless the House voted first on a different piece of legislation, the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate earlier this month.

Pelosi struck a deal with the centrist holdouts, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), to allow the vote on the budget resolution to proceed, agreeing to hold a House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on or before September 27 in exchange for the moderate’s support of the budget resolution.

The deadline is technically non-binding, but Pelosi said she plans to stick to it. “I am committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27,” Pelosi said Tuesday. “I do so with a commitment to rally House Democratic support for its passage.”

Unlocking reconciliation – and potential headaches: The passage of the budget resolution unlocks the reconciliation process, which Democrats plan to use to pass Biden’s agenda with simple majorities, bypassing a Senate filibuster that could kill the bill.

But the agreement threatens to break the “two-track” link Pelosi has established between the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has relatively broad support, and the reconciliation bill, which faces a more difficult path, with Democrats needing to resolve internal disagreements over the size of the package.

Although Pelosi wants to advance the two bills together in order to maximize internal unity and minimize dissent, Democrats will have a tough time completing the sprawling reconciliation bill before September 27. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes on that date, Democrats could then face potentially crippling infighting over the size of the reconciliation bill, with moderates pushing for substantial reductions in spending.

Progressives send a message: On the heels of Tuesday’s successful vote, a group of liberal Democrats signaled their intention to stick to Pelosi’s plan, with a focus on passing the larger — and in their eyes, more important — reconciliation bill first.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has nearly 100 members, released a statement saying, “Our position remains unchanged: we will work to first pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill so we can deliver these once-in-a-generation, popular, and urgently needed investments to poor and working families, and then pass the infrastructure bill to invest in our roads, bridges, and waterways.”

The bottom line: Democrats took a big step toward passing Biden’s agenda Tuesday, but the process leading up to the vote suggests there could be more conflict ahead, and a very difficult path to negotiate for Democratic leaders this fall.

Poll of the Day: Covid Is Once Again Americans’ Top Concern

The Covid-19 pandemic is once again Americans’ top concern, according to a new Gallup poll. Just over a quarter of those surveyed (26%) cited the coronavirus or diseases as the nation’s most important problem, up from 8% in June and 12% in July but well below the 45% in April 2020.

The poll also found that satisfaction with the way things are going in the country has fallen 7 percentage points since July to 23%, the lowest since President Joe Biden took office. “Not long ago, Americans largely thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them, and they were more satisfied with the direction of the country than they had been at any time since March 2020 when the pandemic began,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan writes. “Now, as the delta variant continues to spread and COVID-19 cases are surging, Americans' satisfaction has declined.”

One note: The survey of 1,006 adults was conducted from August 2 to 17, largely prior to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power there, meaning that satisfaction with the way things are going may have already fallen even lower.

Vaccination rates climbing too: The daily number of people getting their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine has risen by more than 70% since mid-July, climbing from about 260,000 to about 450,000, the White House said Tuesday.

Doctor group calls for vaccine mandates: Also on Tuesday, the American Medical Association called for the public and private sectors to mandate vaccination. Their statement comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer vaccine. “The simple fact is unless a significant percentage of our population is vaccinated against COVID-19 – we could be stuck fighting this virus for many more months or even years to come," AMA President Gerald Harmon said in a statement. "Now is the time for the public and private sectors to come together, listen to the science, and mandate vaccination."

Quote of the Day

“Delta came along, and it's almost like we have a new pandemic now. Everything we thought we knew about covid-19 has to be revised. … I think we're in a world of trouble for at least the next couple of months, but exactly what the shape of that trouble looks like, I can’t tell you.”

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in an interview with The Washington Post.

Number of the Day: 38%

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says that the monthly Child Tax Credit payments being delivered to millions of families through the end of the year will increase the average monthly income for families receiving its housing aid by almost 38%, according to an analysis obtained by The Hill.

“The average monthly income for HUD-assisted families with children is approximately $1,460, or $8,760 over six months. On average, Advance Child Tax Credit payments will increase monthly income by $550 among these families,” the report by analysts Veronica Helms Garrison and Janet Li says, according to The Hill.

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