Published on: October 1, 2021
Authors: Chatrane Birbal
Topics: Employment LawDue to internal divisions among Democrats and pending legislative priorities, a vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill remains in limbo as negotiations continue, placing a separate House budget social spending bill with several Democratic workplace policy priorities in the balance. Given the fluid nature of negotiations, HR Policy will provide updates as they occur.
Ahead of a planned Thursday vote, House progressives threatened to vote against the infrastructure bill unless Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House first reach an agreement on the social spending bill that they are attempting to pass through the budget reconciliation process. As negotiations continue on the infrastructure bill, the social spending bill, estimated to cost $3.5 trillion, hangs in the balance.
The social spending bill includes several workplace topics that are Democratic priorities, and would have significant impact on companies, such as a federal paid family and medical leave program, pro-worker incentives and worker support, health equity, lower prescription drug costs, ACA expansion, corporate tax reform, childcare for working families, workforce development and job training, labor enforcement and penalties and immigration reform.
Outlook: The looming midterm elections have created extra pressure on Democrats to enact at least some of their legislative priorities or face the possibility of losing one or both chambers of Congress. Negotiations on the infrastructure and social spending bills will continue now that Congress has passed a bill to fund the government through December 3. A point of contention among two Senate Democrats is the overall cost of the bill. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) have expressed reluctance to pass a $3.5 trillion social spending bill. Senator Manchin announced this week that he is not willing to vote for a package that includes more than $1.5 trillion in spending, far below the $3.5 trillion spending goal set by the budget resolution that he and other House and Senate Democrats voted for last month. Pursuing a dual-track approach to the infrastructure and social spending bills will continue to be a delicate balancing act for Democratic leadership in the coming weeks.