Intense negotiations among moderate and progressive Democrats on the scope and cost of the $3.5 trillion “human” infrastructure package continued this week, delaying a vote yesterday on the $1 trillion bipartisan “physical” infrastructure bill. House progressives have insisted they will not vote for the bipartisan bill until Senate centrists commit to support a multitrillion-dollar social benefits package.
Moderates in the Balance
- President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week engaged moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in hopes of sealing the support of all 50 Senate Democrats on the “human” infrastructure package. That bill’s passage depends on the budget reconciliation process to bypass Republican opposition. (Reuters, Sept. 28)
- Sen. Manchin this week released a document indicating the terms for his potential support of the reconciliation package. Manchin’s conditions, provided to Schumer on July 28, cite a topline cost of $1.5 billion for spending on social programs and climate change – $2 trillion less than the package that Democratic progressives have agreed to support. (Politico, Sept. 30)
- The Manchin document included proposals to raise the corporate tax rate to 25% and increase the top tax rate on ordinary income to 39.6%. It also lists as an offset condition to “end carried interest,” raise the capital gains tax rate to 28 percent, and notes that “any revenue exceeding $1.5 trillion” should be used to reduce the national deficit.
- Tax issues affecting CRE in the “human” infrastructure package are summarized in The Roundtable's "Pass-Through Businesses and the Reconciliation Bill" document.
- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki yesterday said, "A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever. But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work.” (White House Statement, Sept. 30)
CR and Debt Ceiling
- Meanwhile, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) yesterday to fund the government through Dec. 3. President Biden signed the bill hours before a partial federal shutdown was scheduled to take effect. (BGov and CQ, Oct 1)
- The flurry of activity in Washington this week also included action on the debt ceiling. Legislation that would suspend the nation's debt limit until December 2022 passed the House on Sept. 29 but is expected to fail in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to advance the bill in the 50-50 upper chamber. Republicans oppose the measure, insisting that Democrats should suspend the debt ceiling through the budget reconciliation process, which requires 50 votes. (CNBC, Sept. 29)
- The debt ceiling must be suspended by Oct. 18 to avoid the government from defaulting on its financial obligations, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s Sept. 28 testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
- Unless Congress increases the government’s authority to borrow more, "It would be disastrous for the American economy, for global financial markets, and for millions of families and workers," Yellen said. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also testified, supporting Yellen’s view about the catastrophic economic consequences if the government were to default. (AP, Sept. 28)
The potential impact of infrastructure policy proposals on commercial real estate markets, employment and investment in communities Washington will be the focus of discussion during The Roundtable’s Fall Meeting on Oct 5.
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