House to consider $3.5 trillion budget resolution next week.

On August 10, the U.S. Senate passed both the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill (HR 3684) by a vote of 69-30 as well as the budget resolution to begin the reconciliation process required to pass the $3.5 trillion party-line “social” infrastructure package (focusing on Medicare expansion, childcare, universal pre-K, climate change, paid family leave, unemployment compensation, etc.) Now it is up to the U.S. House to take the next move by passing its own taxing and spending “blueprint”.

Starting Monday, Aug 23, the House will vote on an important procedural “rule” to begin debate on three items: the budget resolution, the bipartisan physical infrastructure package, and voting rights legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) insists that she will only bring the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill to a vote after the Senate passes a separate $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill. Democrats plan to push the larger package without Republican votes through the reconciliation process as soon as this September, but Pelosi must first deal with her own competing factions of Democratic Members. While some moderate/centrist Democratic House Members claim they will not vote on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package until the House passes the $550 bipartisan physical infrastructure bill, another faction of progressive Democratic House Members claim they will not vote on the $550 bipartisan infrastructure bill until the House votes on the larger $3.5 trillion package. (See next section for more on the competing factions within the Democratic party.)

Each faction claims it has enough members to block passage of either package if they are not satisfied that their demands have been met. With a small three-vote majority in the House, the rift in the House Democratic Caucus could have negative implications for Biden’s domestic agenda if Speaker Pelosi cannot hold them together for next week’s budget resolution vote. Also complicating the agenda this summer is the pending need to increase or suspend the federal debt limit and pass a stopgap spending bill (continuing resolution) to keep the government open after the current fiscal year ends on September 30 (just over forty days away).

House Democratic leaders including Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) and White House officials are actively working to hold the Democrats together.

Author: Colleen P. Meiman, National Policy Advisor for State & Regional Associations of Community Health Centers