Senate Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution
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Senate Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution

Brownstein Client Alert, August 12, 2021

On Wednesday morning, the Senate adopted a $3.5 trillion Budget resolution along party lines, 50-49. The resolution contains topline budget instructions for House and Senate committees to develop policies for the $3.5 trillion Budget reconciliation package that will carry much of the Biden administration’s “human infrastructure” priorities.
Senate passage of the Budget resolution comes two days after Senate Democrats released the text, a topline summary document and a memorandum to senators related to the measure. A link to the Brownstein summary and analysis can be found here.
Before the full Senate could approve the Budget resolution, the chamber engaged in a lengthy process known as “vote-a-rama,” during which lawmakers had an opportunity to offer an unlimited number of amendments to the resolution. Of the more than 1,000 amendments filed, 46 received a vote, with only 28 being adopted.
Brownstein’s comprehensive overview of the vote-a-rama, including floor discussion, can be found here.
Many amendments received near-unanimous support, including those related to protecting farmers and ranchers from changes to tax law with regards to transfers of property; preventing tax increases that would violate President Joe Biden’s promise not to hike taxes on people making less than $400,000; promoting U.S. competitiveness, research and development; prohibiting federal funds from being used to purchase critical minerals mined with forced labor; supporting the deployment of carbon capture, utilization and sequestration technologies and providing internet service to Cuba.
For some other amendments, moderate Democrats — namely Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — joined Republicans. These typically involved social issues or climate change. For example, one Democrat joined Republicans in adopting an amendment that would require electric vehicle tax credits to be means-tested to ensure that high-income individuals do not get government subsidies to buy expensive luxury vehicles.
Looking Ahead
With the Senate having approved the Budget resolution, it now heads to the House, which is expected to reconvene the week of Aug. 23 to consider the measure, according to a Tuesday Dear Colleague letter from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). While the House and Senate must adopt the same Budget resolution to advance a reconciliation bill to the floor for a vote in both chambers, committee staff in the House and Senate are already having discussions and drafting legislative text. Committees have been asked to report their portions to the House and Senate Budget Committees by Sept. 15, a nonbinding target date.
Brownstein has broken down the various steps involved in the Budget reconciliation process here.
Timeline for the passage of the Budget resolution is beginning to take shape in the House. However, there are some in the House who have also asked that the chamber consider the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act during the week of August 23. Moderates, such as those in the Problem Solvers Caucus and Blue Dog Coalition, have publicly demanded that the bipartisan infrastructure bill be brought to the floor, falling short of threatening to withhold their votes for the Budget resolution. Progressives, on the other hand, have indicated they might withhold their vote for the bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate crafts a Budget reconciliation package that satisfies their policy objectives.
With only a three-seat Democratic majority, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has consistently stated the chamber will not consider the bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill. However, she did not say that directly in her statement following the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has ended his demand for a conference with the Senate, indicating that he will pursue additional infrastructure funding in the reconciliation bill.
The speed and likelihood of passage will depend on multiple factors. In addition to the competing priorities among moderate and progressive Democrats, Congress has other must-pass legislation running up against September deadlines, including a debt limit increase and FY22 appropriations, that will require both floor time and political capital.

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