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Administration directs House Dems to pursue ‘two-track’ strategy in moving Biden’s Jobs Plan

June 15, 2021 | Blog
By Jay Heflin

The White House on Tuesday instructed House Democrats to pursue a “two-track” strategy in turning President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion American Jobs Plan into legislation.

“The White House made clear to us in our conversations today that we’re preparing to take a two-track approach,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is the chamber’s Democratic Caucus Chairman.

The first track will focus on getting Republicans to support a bipartisan package. If those talks fail to bridge an agreement, the second track will be engaged, which is passing a partisan bill that only Democrats support.

“We’d like to find common ground with the other side,” Jeffries said, adding “but if the obstructionists prevail…then we’re going to have to proceed to get it done through the vehicle that is available to us through reconciliation. But that is a conversation for another day.”

Based upon Jefferies comment, it appears that the House will first attempt a bipartisan agreement before going it alone with Democrats. That differs from the two-track strategy in the Senate, where both tracks are being pursued simultaneously. 

"Our Senate Committees are working on both tracks at the same time," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

The House's two-track strategy could lengthen the amount of time it takes to pass the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) originally wanted to pass legislation before the July 4th Holiday. Given the two-track plan as explained by Jefferies, it does not seem likely that House Democrats will meet this deadline.

The Congressman today did not provide a timeline for when legislation would be introduced.

“We have to let the process play itself out,” Jeffries said.

Democrats have struggled for weeks to get Republicans onboard with Biden's Jobs Plan. So far, the bipartisan agreements that have been reached include no income tax increases, which many Democrats oppose.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) today said that he expects Democrats to use budget reconciliation to pass Biden's jobs bill. The manuver allows legislation to pass the Senate with just a simple majority instead of 60 votes.

The Senate is evenly divided along party lines with Democrats and Republicans each holding 50 seats.  Using reconciliation, passage would require all Senate Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris supporting the bill (Vice Presidents can vote when there is a tie).  The Senate passed Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan using this tactic in March.

However, using reconciliation to pass Biden’s Jobs Plan will be harder when compared to the Rescue Plan. Budget reconciliation includes arcane, technical rules that might prohibit some of the provisions in Biden's Jobs Plan from being included in a reconciliation bill. 

Biden will reportedly allow talks with Republicans to continue for another week or ten days before putting all his focus on a bill abiding by budget reconciliation rules.  The reconciliation package is expected to include provisions from the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which includes roughly $4 trillion in tax increases.

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