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Political Winds Push Congressional Democrats Toward Reconciliation Rather than Negotiation

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Political Winds Push Congressional Democrats Toward Reconciliation Rather than Negotiation

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
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The Politico Pro article below is informative for members seeking to stay abreast of the political climate surrounding President Biden’s jobs and infrastructure proposals, which include significant long-term funding for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program. The article also addresses how the President’s new health proposal, the American Families Plan, further changes Congressional Democrats’ political calculus regarding how best to pass the proposal. However, it is important to note that with legislative proposals still in the early draft stages, the political climate remains very much in flux and changes by the minute.

We will keep our members informed of opportunity for action. Right now, ANCOR’s main priority is ensuring that funding proposals for the HCBS program remain in the jobs and infrastructure package that is in the works. The HCBS funding is vulnerable to cuts due to the $400 billion – price tag associated with the proposal. We encourage readers who live in Arizona, Delaware, West Virginia and Maine to reach out to their Senators to encourage them to support this funding, as those Senators have expressed concern about the cost of the health provisions in the jobs and infrastructure package.

“President Joe Biden has dropped $4 trillion in spending and tax increases in Democrats’ laps. They're still not sure how the heck to make it into a law.

The White House is still technically negotiating with Republicans on their proposed $500 billion-plus infrastructure package, a counteroffer to the more than $2 trillion that Biden wants to spend. But Wednesday's introduction of another $1.8 trillion measure that Biden has dubbed the American Families Plan puts increased pressure on Democrats to stiff-arm those talks.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said that if Republicans don’t budge from their $568 billion proposal within a week, he’d take it as “a very powerful signal" for Biden's party to go solo. If they go that route, Democrats can use the protections of the budget to push through as much as they can along party lines.

[…]

The unmistakable movement toward a party-line approach is reminiscent of the opening weeks of Biden’s presidency, when Democrats spurned a GOP offer on coronavirus relief as too small and moved forward on their own to pass a $1.9 trillion bill. But hours before Biden prepares to promote his next big proposal in his first annual address to Congress, it's clear that his party will have to work harder than it did in February before getting traction for a strategy that sidesteps Republicans.

The president's latest package of policies is significantly more complicated than the Covid aid bill, there's no hard deadline to pass it and some Senate Democrats are resisting another one-party bill.

[…]

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are sending the same signal to Republicans that they did this winter: Get on board or get out of the way. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered his strongest warning to Republicans yet on Wednesday ahead of Biden’s speech, indicating that his party would move forward with a budget resolution to set the stage for passing Biden’s plan with only Democratic votes if it comes to that. […]

Democratic leaders don’t plan to pivot immediately to a party-line approach, allowing more time for bipartisan infrastructure talks. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), her party's lead negotiator with Biden’s White House on infrastructure, called his latest spending proposals “mind-boggling” but said the administration hasn’t yet pulled the plug on talking to her. […]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, predicted if Democrats can move without Republicans, "they will.” If Democrats can't keep their 50 senators unified, he added, ‘maybe they’ll come back and talk to Sen. Capito and those of us that are interested in doing a bipartisan bill.’”

Additional reading: We suggest our members look at this infographic breaking down differences between what the Biden Administration requested, Senate Republican’s counter-proposal, and what the American Society of Civil Engineers suggests is needed on infrastructure, as it includes broader infrastructure topics relevant to disability supports such as broadband.