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Schumer: Democrats will pass reconciliation bill without GOP regardless of infrastructure deal

"We need a reconciliation package, a budget resolution, that goes beyond what's in the bill, and I think just about everybody understands that," said the Senate majority leader.

Updated: June 15, 2021 - 11:30pm

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed that Senate Democrats plan to pass another budget reconciliation bill without Republican votes in the 50-50 chamber even if a bipartisan infrastructure deal is reached.

A group of 10 Democratic and Republican senators has presented a framework on infrastructure to the White House for review. 

Schumer said the bipartisan framework doesn't go far enough on climate change, a concern expressed by Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a sponsor of the Green New Deal. 

"I think there are many people, maybe everybody in our caucus, who believes it's a good start, but it doesn't do enough," Schumer said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. "And that's why we need a reconciliation package, a budget resolution, that goes beyond what's in the bill, and I think just about everybody understands that."

Schumer revealed that he is moving ahead on two tracks: the bipartisan negotiations on infrastructure and a partisan reconciliation bill that includes the components of President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda that don't wind up in any bipartisan infrastructure bill that's agreed upon.

Schumer emphasized that Democrats want to pass Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan one way or the other. The two bills combined amount to about $4 trillion in new federal spending.

The jobs plan contains physical infrastructure improvements and green energy spending, which Biden has said is aimed at creating union jobs. The families plan is geared toward what Democratic leaders call "human infrastructure," such as universal pre-K, paid family leave and financial support for childcare.

Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow said the federal government should spend tax dollars on human infrastructure. 

"Just ask a working mom, if childcare is part of her family's infrastructure" she said. "Ask a brother who takes care of his adult sister with disabilities if the childcare work he depends on is part of his infrastructure, and ask a family with an aging parent who needs help to live at home safely if homecare is infrastructure. We understand that it is, and we are committed along with President Biden to make sure those needs are addressed."

Biden's FY2022 budget proposal is about $6 trillion, which would yield a $1.8 trillion budget deficit. Biden's budget proposal could be rolled into the wide-ranging reconciliation bill that Democrats are starting to put together. 

Stabenow said Biden's "Build Back Better" plan is not just a slogan and a possible bipartisan agreement on physical infrastructure spending is only part of it.

"It's not just a slogan, we want to come out of this stronger than ever, and the bipartisan effort on infrastructure is one piece of that," she said. "But we need to do the rest of what needs to be done in the jobs plan and the family plan to really meet the needs of our economy and our families."

Schumer also said the bipartisan infrastructure framework doesn't go far enough on tax increases, which is another reason Democrats want to push a partisan reconciliation bill through the Senate without GOP votes, regardless of the outcome of the bipartisan negotiations.

"It won't be enough on climate, it won't be enough on revenues," Schumer said. "It won't be enough on some of the human infrastructure, like paid leave and childcare, and things like that. So we're proceeding on both tracks. I think there are large numbers of people in our caucus — and I sympathize with this — who will not vote for a bipartisan bill unless they're quite certain what's going to be in reconciliation."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is heading up the reconciliation process. The parliamentary tool allows the Democrats to avoid a filibuster and pass a spending bill with 50 Democratic votes in the Senate plus Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. 

Schumer said he hopes the reconciliation bill and a potential bipartisan infrastructure package will pass by the end of July.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that he's anticipating that the Democrats will pass another bill through budget reconciliation but he's hoping a bipartisan infrastructure bill comes to fruition. Democrats used the budget reconciliation tool to pass Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.

"I would love to see us get an outcome on infrastructure," McConnell said. "It's important. The country needs it."

McConnell told reporters that Republicans credit the tax reform bill with contributing to the best economy in 50 years before the pandemic hit.

He added that the agreement should include a "credible way to pay for" the legislation but didn't elaborate.