Senate Parliamentarian halts Democratic plans for budget reconciliation
As recently as April, Senate Majority leader Schumer thought that he would be able to use the budget reconciliation two more times to by-bass the filibuster. But the Senate Parliamentarian has a different idea about the matter. Saying that the Democratic party will only be able to use reconciliation one more time this fiscal year, unless they can get a majority vote from the evenly split Senate Budget Committee. With zero chance of getting a Republican to vote in their favor, this news essentially puts a roadblock in the Biden -Harris Administration's agenda.
Democrats used this same process to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan earlier this year, leaving them one final reconciliation to bypass the filibuster of 60 votes. According to The Hill, Democratic aides say we can bet, "that the next one will be bigger because you can't divide it up," when asked about the next package they plan to pass with reconciliation.
So what does this mean for the infastructure plan that has already been unveiled by the President? Aides say that this puts more pressure on Biden to reach a smaller scaled back package with Republican support, because it would give them more room for a bigger package with priorities that will likely garner no Republican support. Priorities that include repealing the cap on state and local tax deductions, raising the corporate tax rate, tax breaks for clean energy, and billions of dollars for programs including a $400 million boost in long-term home care for the disabled and elderly, and an increase in spending for child care. There has also been discussion from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, about including expansions to Medicare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
Senate Republican met with Biden and unveiled a counter offer of $928 billion to be spent over eight years. The package would update roads, transit systems, bridges, and rail. The package would only add $250 million to current government spending if current programs continue. Early Friday they committed to add and additional $50 billion bringing the total of their counter offer up to $307 billion in new spending. The White House responded by saying that the current counter offer "does not meet his [Biden's] objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis and create new jobs," while expressing gratitude for their offer.