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Senate Efforts Pursue Two-Track Approach to Infrastructure Package

  • June 18, 2021

HIghway Infrastructure Houston

Senate members announced this week that they are pursuing a two-track approach in assembling an infrastructure package in response to President Biden’s original multitrillion dollar proposal – a pared-down bipartisan plan, and a much larger Democratic plan that could advance on a narrow, party-line vote path. 

Bipartisan Framework

Senate Bipartisan Group framework document  - image
  • In the wake of failed negotiations last week between the White House and Senate GOP leaders, a group of five Democrats and five Republicans began work on an alternative plan focused on “core, physical infrastructure.” The bipartisan Senate group expanded this week to 21 members, including 11 Republicans. At least 10 Republicans in the 50-50 Senate must approve a bill to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage. (Bloomberg and Washington Post, June 16)

  • A draft outline of the bipartisan group’s infrastructure proposal published on June 16 by Politico revealed a framework that would cost $974 billion over five years, including $579 billion in new spending.

  • President Biden originally proposed $2 trillion in new infrastructure spending, then signaled a compromise closer to $1 trillion. (Roundtable Weekly, June 11)

  • The Senate group’s framework also includes numerous funding sources, such as unspent coronavirus relief aid and public-private partnerships. Since the document’s release, Republicans have provided assurances that a final framework would not include indexing the national gasoline tax to inflation, a proposal opposed by President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). (Politico and The Hill, June 17)

The Reconciliation Path

Capitol building with sun in background

  • Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week met with Democratic senators on the Budget Committee to trigger the budget reconciliation process, which would allow a party–line majority vote of an infrastructure package, eliminating the need for Republican votes. (Associated Press, June 17)

  • According to the AP, “Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said the Budget Committee was unified in putting together a package that ‘gives us a latitude to do what we need to do — we can shrink it if there’s a bipartisan deal, we could do the broader deal if there isn’t.’”

  • Schumer said he would like to pass next month both a bipartisan infrastructure package and a larger budget blueprint, which would address a follow-up Democratic legislative. (BGov, June 17)

  • Additionally, Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he is seeking a $6 trillion measure that would fund both Biden’s infrastructure proposals, including reforms targeting climate change and an expansion of Medicare. (Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, June 17

  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a member of the bipartisan group leading infrastructure negotiations, said, "I know there needs to be reconciliation. But that also doesn't mean that I accept all of what the president proposed and all of what Sen. Sanders has proposed." (BGov, June 17)

  • The Real Estate Roundtable, along with 16 other national real estate trade organizations submitted detailed comments in May to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee as part of hearings on how to fund the administration’s infrastructure proposals. (Roundtable Weekly, May 21)

The Roundtable’s Annual Meeting this week also featured discussions with policymakers on the evolving infrastructure debate – and the organization plans to remain fully engaged with lawmakers on any eventual legislative proposal that could affect commercial real estate. 

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