Is Today the Day?
November 5, 2021
Is Today the Day?
November 5, 2021
THE EXCRUCIATING, MADDENING gridlock over infrastructure legislation may be nearing a resolution — perhaps as early as today — thanks to restive voters who have prompted the Democrats to finally move.
NOTHING CONCENTRATES THE MIND like the prospect of being hanged, the great British writer Samuel Johnson proclaimed centuries ago, and that still resonates today. The reeling House Democrats, facing a blowout election next year, are finally prepared to vote on both infrastructure bills.
IF THE HOUSE PASSES THE BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE MEASURE — costing as much as $1.2 trillion for highways, bridges, dams, wi-fi, clean water, etc — that bill would go directly to the White House, where President Joe Biden could sign it within days.
BUT FIRST, the House must approve the massive social spending bill, and negotiations continued through the night on contentious provisions — family leave, immigration reform, the SALT tax, etc.
IF NANCY PELOSI can get just enough votes for that bill, the next vote would be passage of the basic infrastructure package, which the Senate — and Mitch McConnell — have already approved and Biden is prepared to sign.
THE SOCIAL SPENDING PACKAGE WOULD THEN FACE WEEKS OF DEBATE, as the House and Senate iron out differences. The major issue will be Sen. Joe Manchin’s complaint that this second bill needs even more debate on its potential impact on deficits and inflation.
THIS COULD BE SHAPING UP AS A WIN-WIN FOR THE MARKETS: First, passage of a simulative infrastructure package, positive for a wide range of companies; second, the other bill — with tax hikes and huge new cradle-to-grave social spending — could languish through the winter.
FOR BIDEN, WHO HAS BEEN IN A DEEP SLUMP since the inept withdrawal from Afghanistan, this would be a major win (a solid unemployment report in a few hours would be another positive for him). Why this infrastructure bill couldn’t pass this summer speaks volumes about Biden’s disastrous veer to the left.
BUT A HOUSE AGREEMENT today (or this weekend) would allow Biden to proclaim victory on infrastructure; a final agreement on social spending and new taxes may have to wait.
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