Written by Mary Scott Hardwick & JK Phenix
Over the last several months, Congress and the Biden Administration have been laying the groundwork to address key priorities in the White House’s domestic policy agenda. Such priorities include a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion legislative package that would advance President Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better Agenda. With an overall price tag of both packages estimated to cost upwards of $4 trillion over the next decade, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are aiming to provide historic levels of investment in the country’s physical infrastructure as well as human infrastructure programs targeting American families, workers, and education.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed the bipartisan H.R.3684 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on a 69-30 vote. The $1 trillion package aims to improve the country’s roads, bridges, ports, and airports. Notably, the bipartisan bill does not include investments into housing or community facilities that were a part of President Biden’s initial infrastructure plan. Democratic lawmakers plan to introduce several of the said provisions into the larger reconciliation bill that will take shape next month. During this week’s House vote on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House is expected to take up the legislation in tandem with the reconciliation package in late September.
Following the Senate’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, lawmakers passed the previously mentioned $3.5 trillion budget resolution, the vehicle for the larger, partisan reconciliation bill. Under the reconciliation process, the legislation will only need 50 votes in the Senate, meaning it could be passed with only Democratic votes and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker. While the reconciliation bill is not yet written, the legislation is expected to comprise a broader range of infrastructure investment, including many opportunities for CDFIs. Similarly, several elements of President Biden’s American Families Plan involving funding for affordable housing, early childcare, and community facilities serve as the projected framework for the spending package.
Despite some Senate Democrats expressing concern over the legislation’s massive price tag, progressive Democrats have outlined their priorities for the reconciliation bill, led by Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA). Chairwoman Waters introduced a package of housing bills that would provide more than $600 billion in investments in affordable housing, vouchers, and homelessness prevention, including more than $12 billion for the Capital Magnet Fund as well as $10 billion for a new Community Revitalization Fund at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Given the Democrats’ tight margins in both chambers, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will have to balance legislative priorities for both progressive and moderate members in order to advance this significant piece of President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda. Legislative business on the bipartisan infrastructure and reconciliation packages will likely coincide with decisions about FY 2022 federal funding and raising the debt ceiling, making it a busy next few months on Capitol Hill.
Contact your Member of Congress today to remind them to include CDFIs in the reconciliation bill!