Monday, President Biden announced a deal with a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on a framework for an infrastructure package that would provide approximately $1 trillion to address the needs of the nation’s most critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and broadband services for Americans. The deal also includes pay-fors that would not increase taxes on Americans and leverage public funds for private investment in the nation’s infrastructure. ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman released a statement on the reported agreement stating the importance of ensuring any infrastructure deal avoid enacting partisan policies such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, government-mandated project labor agreements and a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce development.
While there is agreement on the framework, there is still significant work that needs to be done, including ensuring support from at least 60 U.S. Senators and a majority of the House, which will in large part rely on the endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). President Biden, Schumer and Pelosi have already stated that the bipartisan plan cannot move forward without a budget reconciliation bill that would provide additional funding for Democratic priorities. President Biden stated today that he would not sign a bipartisan infrastructure package that was not accompanied by a budget reconciliation bill. Sen. Schumer also stated that the Senate will take up both the bipartisan deal and reconciliation instructions concurrently in July.
The two-pronged approach supported by Democratic leadership could make it harder for Republicans to back a bipartisan package if they know that Democrats will enact their additional priorities through the budget reconciliation process that circumvents the 60-vote requirement in the Senate. Republicans could view the demand for budget reconciliation as corrupting the bipartisan process on infrastructure and sink the deal, leaving Democrats to hold the bag on any funding deal that passes through reconciliation and own the outcome during an election year in 2022. Though in the minority, support from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell may be the key to ensuring passage of a bipartisan proposal.
The construction industry shut down for a few months last year during the pandemic — but was quickly deemed essential, allowing paused projects to continue. But in that short time, the sector lost more than 1 million workers. The industry has recouped nearly 80% of its workforce since then, but is still down 238,000 workers from pre-pandemic levels as of June, according to the Labor Department.
The Biden administration released an executive order last Friday on promoting competition in the American economy that continues the president’s efforts to push for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.