Reconciliation UpdateSeptember 22, 2021
The House Budget Committee will not mark up the Democrats’ reconciliation package this week. This means that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will not be ready for the House floor by next week. Despite this delay, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) confirmed that the House will not delay the Sept. 27 vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — even though the party’s reconciliation package will not likely be ready to go by then.
Leader Hoyer acknowledged the reconciliation package will take longer because there are still changes to work through in marrying the House proposals with the Senate’s and vetting what is agreed upon for compliance with the so-called Byrd rule that requires provisions to have a more than merely incidental impact on the budget.
House Progressives have repeatedly warned that they will not support the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, which includes $550 billion in new spending, unless the larger, Democratic-driven reconciliation package passes first. Moderates, meanwhile, have said they will not support the reconciliation measure unless the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes on Sept. 27, as promised. Thus, there is serious concern among leadership that there are not the votes to pass the infrastructure bill. With the infrastructure vote still on track, this effectively decouples the two bills, officially spiking the so-called “two-track” process that leadership hoped would enable passage of both while keeping the party united.
Back in August, when the House passed the budget resolution clearing the way for reconciliation, it also adopted a rule governing floor debate for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Speaker Pelosi secured ten Democratic moderates who wanted an immediate infrastructure vote by promising to take up the Senate-passed bill by Sept. 27. There was some hope among Democrats at the time that the reconciliation package would be done — or nearly done — by then. However, that is now not the case.
Completing the reconciliation package this month was always ambitious, but it has been made more complicated by another commitment that Speaker Pelosi made to the moderates — that the House would not take up a reconciliation package that cannot pass the Senate. As of now, a huge gulf exists between House and Senate Democrats on Medicare and Medicaid, ACA funding and tax increases in the reconciliation package. A number of House and Senate Democrats are balking at the Medicare prescription drug negotiations measure being pushed by party leaders, which leaves a $700 billion hold in the reconciliation package while also endangering Medicare expansion—to cover vision, hearing and dental programs, which progressives want.
There is still a possibility that Speaker Pelosi could seek to delay the infrastructure vote for several weeks while party leaders and the White House try to work through the reconciliation process.
Please click here for a detailed outline of what’s being debated in the bill.