Weekly Legislative Update
March 22, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The Senate is in session this week while the House is in recess (however, several House committees are holding virtual hearings this week). On Monday, the Senate voted to confirm Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be the 29th Secretary of Labor by a vote of 68-29, the last Cabinet secretary in the Biden Administration to be confirmed. For the remainder of the week, the Senate will vote to confirm several additional Biden Administration officials, including: Shalanda Young to be Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; Vivek Murthy to be Surgeon General of the United States; Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of Health; David Turk to be Deputy Secretary of Energy; and Wally Adeyemo to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. The Senate will also consider the House-passed PPP Extension Act of 2021 (H.R. 1799), which provides small businesses two additional months to seek loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extending the application deadline from March 31 to May 31.

The Biden Administration is preparing a massive spending proposal on infrastructure and other domestic priorities like childcare and drug costs that could put fights over hot-button issues like climate change and taxes front and center. Sources familiar with the plans confirmed that Administration officials are eyeing $3 trillion as the topline figure for its Build Back Better jobs and infrastructure proposal, though they cautioned talks are fluid and the final number could change. The sweeping package would constitute the White House’s follow-up to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law on March 11. The White House declined to confirm details of the proposal, saying nothing had been finalized.

The new package is expected to be split into two separate bills. The first would focus on infrastructure, which is expected to include $400 billion in spending to combat climate change, including $60 billion for infrastructure related to green transit and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. The plan also would aim to make electric-vehicle charging stations available across the country and would also include $200 billion for housing infrastructure, including $100 billion to expand the supply of housing for low-income Americans. The second component of the effort would include many of President Joe Biden’s other domestic priorities, including universal prekindergarten and free community college tuition. The package also would dramatically expand spending on childcare, and extend, for several years, the expansion of the child tax credit recently signed into law for just one year as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The new legislation would also extend subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, as well as free and reduced tuition at historically Black colleges and universities. Biden is expected to be presented with a menu of tax options by Treasury Department officials to fund the plan.
Week in Review