Capitol Correspondence - 06.14.21

Potential Compromise on Jobs and Infrastructure Plan from Group Led by Senator Sinema

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ANCOR will be closely following the developments reported below by The Washington Post to evaluate whether there are opportunities to advance our key 2021 priority of long-term funding to strengthen and improve the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program. Earlier negotiations included debate over whether the care infrastructure could be included in jobs and infrastructure legislation. While an infrastructure package would provide a speedy vehicle for HCBS legislation and is of interest to ANCOR for that reason, it is important to note that the program is receiving an unprecedented level of interest from Congress. This means the legislation could set a precedent that creates opportunities to strengthen the program beyond the infrastructure legislation. We will keep our members informed as this situation further develops.

“A bipartisan group of 10 Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a new deal on infrastructure on Thursday, agreeing to a nearly $1 trillion, five-year package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes and Internet connections.

The new blueprint, described by four people familiar with the plan, marks a fresh attempt to resurrect negotiations between congressional lawmakers and the White House after an earlier round of talks between President Biden and the GOP fell apart this week. But it remains unclear if the early accord will prove to be enough to satisfy either the White House or a sufficient number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill at a time when disagreements between the parties are rife. [Editorial note: learn more about the breakdown in talks in this Axios article.]

The new deal is the product of five Democrats and five Republicans — Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.).

Their early agreement calls for about $974 billion in infrastructure spending over five years, which comes to about $1.2 trillion when extrapolated over eight years, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details had not yet been released formally. The package includes roughly $579 billion in new spending. […]

The overall package is larger than the plan that GOP lawmakers, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), presented to the White House in recent days — a proposal that Biden ultimately rejected as insufficient. Capito and her colleagues had put forward more than $300 billion in new spending over eight years, with the rest set to come from regular legislative efforts to fund federal programs in areas like transportation and water.


But lawmakers face an even tougher task on infrastructure than they did with stimulus aid. Democrats possess only a narrow majority in the Senate, requiring any new package of public-works spending to attract at least 10 Republican votes to advance. That supposes there are no Democratic defections, a challenge given the fact that some party lawmakers — in the Senate as well as the House — argue that they should spend more, not less, on infrastructure.

Fearing any compromise could quickly collapse, Senate Democrats say they are starting to lay the groundwork to try to advance infrastructure spending on their own using a budget process known as reconciliation that requires 51 votes, not 60, to pass. Even that process, however, is fraught with political difficulty since some Democrats — including Manchin — say they are not yet ready to abandon bipartisan talks.

In the hours before the Senate adjourned for the week — and lawmakers released their compromise — Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was awaiting further details about the deal now taking shape.

‘I’ll look at it,’ he said. ‘But we continue to proceed on two tracks — a bipartisan track and a reconciliation track — and both are moving forward.’”