Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
November 5, 2021

The House convened at 8 a.m. this morning to begin work on passing President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending and climate package (TEXT), which has been stuck in a battle within the party between liberals and centrists fighting over its size and shape.  The internal battles, which have also gridlocked a bipartisan infrastructure bill (TEXT) already approved by the Senate, have been blamed for pulling down President Biden’s approval ratings, and for a dismal showing by the party in Tuesday’s off-year elections, when Democrats lost the governor’s race in Virginia, where Biden won by 10 points just a year ago.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hopes to see the House pass both the spending package and the infrastructure bill on Friday, sending the infrastructure bill to the White House for Biden’s signature.  Late Thursday night, Democratic leaders postponed a vote on the measure to Friday, as a few centrists were balking at supporting the package, which includes monthly payments to families with children, universal prekindergarten, a four-week paid family and medical leave program, health care subsidies and a broad array of climate change initiatives.  The demands from a handful of centrist lawmakers for a full Congressional Budget Office analysis of the social spending package are also holding up the planned votes.

Democratic leadership posted a 10-page manager’s amendment late Thursday evening before reconvening the Rules Committee to report out a rule for consideration of the roughly $2 trillion tax and spending bill. The manager’s amendment, among other things, would clarify the scope of the drug pricing program and implement a deal New Jersey Democrats reached late Thursday to raise the $10,000 limit on state and local tax “SALT” deductions to $80,000 for this year through 2030.  That’s up from $72,500 in the base text, which would have been good through 2031; in the updated proposal, the cap shrinks back to $10,000 in the final year. But the net effect over a decade would be to save $14 billion, up from $2 billion in the prior proposal.  The manager’s amendment, which would also tack on an extra $500 million for federal information technology upgrades, will be “self-executed,” or automatically inserted into the underlying bill upon adoption of the rule for floor debate.  Changes to immigration provisions in the base text won’t be included.

As negotiations and vote counting continues throughout the day, all signs point to both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate package passing the House today.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.