Drug pricing, climate, immigration: House Dems eye ‘kitchen sink’ for next big bill

House Democrats are currently debating including two of the caucus’ signature laws – one, a drug pricing law known as HR 3 and another green infrastructure law known as HR 2 – as part of the next reconciliation package, the well-known ones People with their plans. Both would be a huge win for Pelosi, whose caucus drafted the measures shortly after regaining the majority in 2019.

These plans are still in the early stages. House lawmakers left town on Friday for a three-week hiatus, which Democratic leaders will spend assembling their pieces of the package. This includes the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Who wants to mark his part of the massive bill by the end of May.

Hispanic Caucus chairman in Congress Raul Ruiz pitched an immigration measure among his peers in a private caucus appeal last week. | Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

Influential groups within the democratic caucus also advocate including more provisions in the budgetary process. The Hispanic Caucus of Congress wants to incorporate the White House immigration law, which would provide a route to citizenship for 11 million people who have lived in the United States

CHC chairman Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) Pitched an immigration measure with his peers in a private caucus call last week, explaining that Biden’s comprehensive plan is challenging given the poor prospect of surviving a filibuster in the Senate for the infrastructure bill, according to the caller.

However, senior Democrats recognize that it would be difficult – if not impossible – to get past the Senate MP, the Chamber’s arbitrator for impartial rules. They say healthcare and climate bills are more likely to have a direct budget impact.

The Senate’s dense budget rules have already forced the MP to crush one of the largest parts of Biden’s coronavirus aid package, an increase in the federal minimum wage. Still, Yarmuth said he believes many different health and climate laws could outlive budgetary rules as well as some aspects of immigration policy: “Not everything, but I think certain things can.”

Then there is the problem of getting 218 votes: the wider the package, the harder it becomes to lock down support across the caucus – a tougher task that is more difficult given the wafer-thin margin of the Democrats generally.

Democrats concede that another massive partisan package with a president who often boasts of a track record of working across the aisle is nowhere near the ideal option. But many also envision a fight to reach an agreement with Republicans on the outline of the infrastructure plan, let alone how to pay for it.

Pelosi and other Democrats have put in options like increasing the corporate tax rate or capital gains tax to pay for every infrastructure bill. GOP leaders have resisted both while offering few of their own.

The House Democrats’ urge to fill the next reconciliation package with as many substantive elements as possible is underpinned by their desire to make optimal use of the legislative powers gained in November. Many House Democrats are increasingly frustrated that their Senate colleagues haven’t lifted their 60-vote threshold on most bills yet.

“If they don’t get rid of the filibuster then let’s use the only mechanism we are allowed to use,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Who supports the use of the budget process for immigration changes.

He admitted that this would be as inappropriate as using pliers instead of a hammer to drive a nail into a piece of wood. But, added Vargas, that might be the only option.

“I think it’s silly to use that process, but if that’s all we have … I’m for getting it through every possible way,” he said.

Another Democrat, Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., Added that he wanted to see a bill that would provide a route to citizenship for the immigrant population known as dreamers if the Senate does not pass this bill soon: “I think the best way to do this would be outside of reconciliation. But if we need reconciliation, we need reconciliation. ”

The Democrats last launched the reconciliation process less than a month ago to pass Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which also included long-term party priorities such as an expansion of child tax credits and a multi-employer pension bailout.

Much is at stake for the second and final reconciliation package of the year. Most Democrats believe that due to the time constraints of the election year and the complexity of the process, they will not have another chance to use the budget tool until midway through next fall. Meanwhile, GOP leaders are already predicting that they will retake the house next year in an election cycle that has been historically bad for the party that controls Washington.

Progressive Democrats are also putting together a long list of priorities that they want to include in the next law of reconciliation, such as another push to raise the minimum wage. But this time around, the Democrats shouldn’t accept another negative decision from the Senate enforcement officer and miss the chance to give a raise to millions of the worst paid workers in the country.

“Obviously I have had the feeling for some time that you can override the parliamentarian. So that wouldn’t be a problem for me, ”said Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus of Congress, adding that her caucus will continue to push Senate Democrats to reform the filibuster and more parliament-approved bills to record.

“There just has to be” an override of the Senate MP, added Jayapal. “Otherwise we won’t be able to deliver our transformative pieces.”

Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.

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