COMPASS: A bipartisan infrastructure deal tentatively struck – to what end?

June 28th, 2021

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. In case you missed it on Friday, the Director of National Intelligence released a highly anticipated report on “unidentified aerial phenomena,” also known as UFOs. The takeaway? The government has no idea what’s going on. But they haven’t ruled out aliens!

The House is in session this week, while the Senate is out for a two week recess. Before they left last week, a bipartisan group of 10 senators announced agreement on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure deal. While 10 senators negotiated the deal, a larger bipartisan group of 21 senators have reportedly agreed to legislation, ensuring that (at this point in time, anyway) it can pass the Senate.

The agreement is largely focused on physical infrastructure, including $579 billion in new spending, which will go toward funding for transportation projects, water systems, broadband, power grids, mass transit, airports, seaports and waterways, and infrastructure for electric vehicles. New spending is financed with a combination of public-private partnerships, direct-pay municipal bonds, recapturing approximately $80 billion in unspent pandemic relief, and tightening enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service.

However, when announcing the deal, President Biden appeared to catch Senate Republican negotiators off guard when he issued an ultimatum which tied passage of the infrastructure package to a much more partisan forthcoming $6 trillion reconciliation package. “What we agreed on today is what we could agree on. The physical infrastructure. There’s not agreement on the rest,” Biden said. “If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”

The reconciliation package, which can pass the Senate with only a majority vote, is rumored to include a large Medicare expansion, affordable housing, a restoration of the SALT tax deduction, pro-union provisions, and potentially the Biden-supported expansion of nationwide childcare and climate action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the House will not take up the bipartisan agreement until the Senate approves the more partisan reconciliation bill.

The Wall Street Journal called the move an “instant bipartisan double cross.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reflected the sentiment of several Republicans who had been involved with the deal, saying “If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it! I’m not doing that. That’s extortion!” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was reportedly “pissed and disappointed” and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) felt “blindsided.”

Over the weekend, Biden walked back his statement about linking the bills, issuing a statement clarifying that he would not veto the infrastructure bill if the reconciliation bill failed to pass. Portman, Cassidy and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) say they still trust the president, and look forward to “mov[ing] forward.” However, over at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, economist Steve Moore outlines the broad fiscal and policy issues he sees with the legislation, which could come to a vote as early as mid-July.

The House this week is expected to consider their own version of a transportation and infrastructure package — one unlikely to become law, but which will serve as a starting point for negotiations with the Senate. The House will also vote to authorize a select committee to examine the events of January 6.

Last week, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, joined by a handful of Republicans, passed six bills to address the economic dominance of the Big Tech platforms — including a bill that would break up the platforms. On Sunday, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) announced the outlines of their alternative plan.


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One More Thing…

CPI’s Phil Reboli joins Gun Owners of America to break down President Biden’s press conference, in which Biden blames the national rise in crime on…wait for it…legal gun owners. Watch here.