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Capitol Correspondence - 02.23.21

Beyond COVID-19: Congressional Democrats’ Future Spending Strategy

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This article by The Washington Post provides a useful snapshot of the broader policy landscape in which the narrow Democratic majority of Congress is operating. As these policy discussions unfold, we will keep our members informed of any potential opportunities to advance disability-specific policies under broader issue umbrellas such as broadband and infrastructure.

“Even as President Biden and congressional Democrats work to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, they’re bracing for the next big legislative scramble, over another massive spending bill that’s already drawing intense lobbying and threatening Democratic unity.

Biden’s next package could be far pricier than the coronavirus bill. Although plans remain fluid, it’s expected to center on a major infrastructure investment, while also tackling other priorities such as clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and child and elder care. However, as the next must-pass bill in a divided Congress, where legislative opportunities will be scarce, it has unleashed a torrent of other demands, as advocates for issues from climate change to immigration push to get included.

[…]

Senior Democratic officials have discussed proposing as much as $3 trillion in new spending as part of what they envision as a wide-ranging jobs and infrastructure package that would be the foundation of Biden’s “Build Back Better” program, according to three people granted anonymity to share details of private deliberations. That would come on top of Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan, as well as the $4 trillion in stimulus measures under former president Donald Trump. Aides cautioned that the spending figures were highly preliminary and subject to change.

But unlike under Trump, when multiple efforts to address infrastructure faltered before getting off the ground, Biden is expected to take a big swing at the issue and package together funding for expanded broadband networks, bridge and road repairs as well as technology that reduces greenhouse gases in a sprawling bill that threatens to enlarge to encompass multiple other issues as well.

A White House spokeswoman said the administration is focused on passing coronavirus relief right now and no final decisions have been made on future legislative packages.”