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Monthly Legislative Newsletter: September 2021
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Where Things Stand

On August 10th, 2021, after months of neo face a rocky path in the House of Representatives, where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will have to unite a larger and broader Democratic caucus behind both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a potential reconciliation bill. Many House progressives have made it clear that they will not support a bipartisan infrastructure bill without first moving on a larger reconciliation bill, which will likely be significantly larger and contain many more Democratic priorities including President Biden’s health agenda and more substantial investments in climate and clean energy. After passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill out of the Senate, Speaker Pelosi indicated that she would only bring the bill up for a vote in tandem with a broader reconciliation bill.

On the moderate side of the Democratic caucus, a group of 9 House moderates, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), attempted to force Speaker Pelosi to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a vote immediately by threatening to tank the budget that would ultimately lead to a reconciliation bill. Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi and the group of 9 came to an agreement that the moderates would support the $3.5 trillion budget and in exchange Speaker Pelosi promised to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a vote by September 27, 2021.

In order to keep progressives happy, Speaker Pelosi reiterated that it is still her intention to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation in tandem by the end of September.

Here Comes Reconciliation

On August 10th and 11th, both the House and the Senate passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, a non-binding framework that contains reconciliation instructions for Congress. As a quick refresher, budget reconciliation uses the Congressional budget process to implement monetary policy that has to do with taxation, spending, or debt into law. The process only requires a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate rather than the traditional 60 to break a filibuster. Should every single Democrat in the Senate, plus Vice President Kamala Harris, vote for the reconciliation bill, it will be sent to the President and signed into law. The process starts by both Chambers of Congress passing a budget resolution for the FY2022, which occurred earlier this month.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has already released a budget resolution framework that will serve as directions to committees of jurisdiction for reconciliation. The framework includes:

 Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

 The HELP Committee receives an instruction of $726 billion.

  • Universal Pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds
  • Child care for working families
  • Tuition-free community college
  • Investments in HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs
  • Increase the maximum Pell grant award
  • School infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments
  • Investments in primary care, including Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, the Nurse Corps, and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education
  • Health equity (maternal, behavioral, and racial equity health investments)
  • Pandemic preparedness
  • Workforce development and job training
  • Labor enforcement and penalties
  • Civilian Climate Corps funding
  • Research infrastructure, including for HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs

Committee on Finance

The Finance Committee will receive an instruction that requires at least $1 billion in deficit reduction. This will provide the Committee with flexibility to make investment, revenue and offset decisions consistent with the policy recommendations.

Investments

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • ACA expansion extension and filling the Medicaid Coverage Gap
  • Expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, hearing benefits and lowering the eligibility age
  • Addressing health care provider shortages (Graduate Medical Education)
  • Child Tax Credit/EITC/CDCTC extension
  • Long-term care for seniors and persons with disabilities (HCBS)
  • Clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives
  • Pro-worker incentives and worker support
  • Health equity (maternal, behavioral, and racial justice health investments)
  • Housing incentives
  • SALT cap relief
  • Other investments within the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee

Read the summary on the reconciling instructions here.
Read the resolution text
here.
Read the committee print to accompany the FY22 budget resolution here.

Credit for Caring Act

On May 18, 2021, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reintroduced the Credit for Caring Act, which would provide a maximum credit of up to $5,000 for family caregivers. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

Family caregivers often incur significant expenses as a result of providing for a loved one. As a result, they are often financially burdened. The Credit for Caring Act would provide financial relief and help offset some of the expenses.

The Credit for Caring Act would:

  • Create up to a $5,000 nonrefundable tax credit adjusted to inflation for family caregivers
  • Apply to incurred family caregiving expenses greater than $2,000

 Under the bill, qualifying care recipients must have been certified by a health care practitioner to be in need of long-term care for at least 180 consecutive days. Eligibility is limited to a caregiver of a qualified care recipient who must pay for caregiving expenses and has earned income in excess of $7,500. Credit is phased out when income exceeds $150,000 for joint filers or $75,000 for individual filers.

View the bill text HERE.
View Sen. Ernst’s press release HERE.