Senate Panel Starts Looking at Next Big Package: Stimulus Update

A Senate committee began consideration Wednesday of President Joe Biden’s follow-on to the pandemic-relief bill: a major push on infrastructure. Separately, House Democrats released a new version of the aid bill that includes fresh spending items, adding to lawmakers’ task of reconciling the legislation with the $1.889 trillion cap Congress set earlier this month.

The House Rules Committee, the last panel in the chamber to finish its work before the legislation goes to the floor, published the new bill text on Wednesday. It includes three new categories of spending not in the other committees’ legislation -- which itself exceeded the $1.889 trillion limit. Lawmakers will need to address the discrepancies before the bill can pass.

The House will vote on the floor Friday on President Joe Biden’s aid bill, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday night. The Senate is expected to make its own changes to the House version -- possibly including a tweak or removal of a phased-in hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That would require another House vote; Democratic leaders want final passage by March 14.

Biden is planning to roll out his longer-term economic growth program after the pandemic-relief bill is completed. It’s designed to include infrastructure and clean-energy initiatives among its components.

Related Developments:

Senate Starts Looking at Next Big Economic Package

A Senate committee hearing on the Biden administration’s coming economic-recovery package -- designed as a follow-on to the Covid-19 relief bill -- likely foreshadowed a divisive debate over the program.

At the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative, lawmakers and witnesses from both sides of the aisle spoke enthusiastically about the need for substantial federal investment in infrastructure. But Republicans warned not to scale up the bill too much.

“The strong bipartisan support that exists for a surface transportation reauthorization bill and other infrastructure legislation will not extend to a multi-trillion dollar package that is stocked full with ideologically driven, one-size-fits-all policies,” said West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the senior Republican on the committee.

The package the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers are planning could be the biggest infrastructure spending commitment since the Depression-era New Deal. But progressives are eyeing much more, such as an expansion of Obamacare and a public-sector jobs program, plus tax measures including an increase in the capital-gains levy. -- Christopher Condon

House Democrats Release Fresh Version of Pandemic-Aid Bill

The House Rules Committee released a fresh version of Biden’s pandemic-relief bill that adds three categories of spending not included in other House panels’ legislation.

These three categories are expected to add about $11.75 billion to the price tag, Raquel Spencer, general counsel for the Budget Committee, said Monday. That’s on top of the $31 billion discrepancy between the previous version, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and the $1.889 trillion cap that the House and Senate set in budget-resolution votes earlier this month.

If the bill totals more than the limit in the budget resolution that it will not be eligible for the fast track procedure being used in the Senate

The House Rules panel added spending for foreign aid, tribal assistance and the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology, among other changes to the bill. -- Jack Fitzpatrick

CEOs Back Biden Aid Bill, Urge Bipartisan Support (7:05 a.m.)

Senior executives from more than 150 companies expressed support for Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package in a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass it.

The letter was signed by leaders across industries, including David Solomon, chairman and chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs; Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone; Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google; and John Stankey the CEO of AT&T.

“Congress should act swiftly and on a bipartisan basis to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan,” the corporate titans said in the letter. -- Jennifer Jacobs

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