Danielle O’Brien, Editor
Header Image: South China Morning Post
This week is critical in establishing President Biden’s legacy as the House plans to vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate back in August, the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Plan which also passed in the Senate following the $1 trillion bill as well as a bill to increase the debt ceiling and negotiate spending bills for the fiscal year which begins Oct. 1. With so many bills on the line, and each one having a different value or motive in getting passed, it is important to understand what each and every bill does and the challenges in the way of passing them.
Initially the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure plan was said to be voted on the past Monday, Sept. 27. However, fears over division within the Democratic party over the bill’s passing has prompted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to delay the vote to Thursday, Sept. 30. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill which passed in the Senate back in August with flying colors (69 to 30) was a light leadway for Congressional Democrats to introduce the larger and more dividing $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. However, the bill’s vote being postponed to only 24 hours before the 2022 fiscal year starts (which has yet to be worked out) poses real danger to the vitality and support of said bill. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill is said to include: $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for railroads, $65 billion for the power grid, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $47 billion for cybersecurity and climate change, $39 billion for public transit, $25 billion for airports, $21 billion for the environment, $17 billion for ports, $11 billion for safety, $8 billion for Western water infrastructure, $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and $7.5 billion for electric school buses. The bill emphasizes influsing green energy with infrastructure to transform the future of the U.S. This bipartisan bill passed in the Senate, however, a stalling of votes in the House may promote delay in support.
The $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill has generally the same motivations behind it but different allocations of money. The bill includes: $135 billion for the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, $332 billion for the Banking Committee, $198 billion for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, $67 billion for the Environment and Public Works Committee, $1.8 trillion for the Finance Committee, $726 billion for the Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee, $37 billion for the HSGAC Committee, $107 billion for the Judiciary Committee, $20.5 billion for the Indian Affairs Committee, $25 billion for the Small Business Committee, $18 billion for the Veterans Affairs Committee, and $83 billion for the Commerce Committee. The Senate passed the outline of the $3.5 trillion bill back in August on a 50 to 49 vote. Republican counterparts have apprehension towards supporting trillions more dollars on a second infrastructure bill. Thus, the viability of this bill, as well as the opportunity for it to even have a vote, remains up in the air, as Friday is the first day of the 2022 fiscal year. Nevertheless, there is no agreement of a fiscal budget to go off of, which proposes the threat of a government shutdown.
The House faces another issue in passing a yearly bill determining the 2022 fiscal spending budget, which is supposed to be completed Oct. 1. With so many bills being passed this week, there is little time to put forth a bipartisan fiscal 2022 budget. Instead, Democrats proposed a temporary budget outline, which could be changed in order to avoid a shutdown. Nevertheless, Republican counterparts are voting down the bill as it does not adhere to the debt ceiling (acting as an emergency fund), even if temporary. The issue with so many bills being voted on this week, rather than a new budget for the 2022 fiscal year which starts Friday, is that if a fiscal budget is not passed by Oct. 1 (which it looks like it will not), the government risks shutting down. A shutdown would further block the Biden Administration’s legislation from passing, as well as create other issues, such as federal workers not getting paid. This week transformative legislation, the legacy of the Biden administration, and the threat of a potential government all lie with the House.