The U.S. House may vote as early as today on two pending spending bills -- H.R. 3684, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which has already passed the U.S. Senate, and the “Build Back Better Act,” also known as the “Human Infrastructure” bill.
The current version of the “human” infrastructure bill is based on the “framework” unveiled by President Joe Biden last Thursday before he went to Europe for a climate change summit.
The framework includes expansion of Obamacare subsidies -- including making subsidies available to people in states that refused to enact Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion -- a range of climate policies including a $555 billion “investment” in the clean economy for transportation, buildings, industry, electricity, agriculture, and “climate-smart policies,” creation of a Climate Corps, grants for electric trains and trucks, and promotion of “environmental justice.”
A particularly odious provision in the bill increases the fines the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can assess on employers to $10,000. OSHA is the federal agency that will administer President Biden’s mandate that employers with over 100 employees require their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID. So, any employer who respects their employees’ rights to make their own health care decisions could be forced to pay at least $10,000 per “violation.” If the fines are assessed for each unvaccinated employee, the fines could substantially impact profit margins.
The bill also implements the proposed 15% global minimum tax, provides funding for a “climate corps,” creates new taxpayer subsidies for electric vehicles and other climate change policies, and provides money for “culturally appropriate” school lunches.
Progressives in the House have succeeded in adding family leave and immigration reform (which is likely to be stripped from the bill in the Senate to comply with reconciliation rules), as well as increases in the state and local tax deduction (SALT).
House Democrats also added increased taxes on traditional cigarettes and vapes. Raising cigarette taxes violates President Biden’s pledge to not raise taxes on Americans making under $400,000 a year.
House leadership still may not have the votes to pass the human infrastructure bill this week, as some Democrat moderates are demanding they have three days to read the final bill and see an official score from the Congressional Budget Office. House rules require bills to be made available 72 hours before a vote and it ought to be considered a dereliction of legislative duty for Congress to pass a bill that makes major changes in policy without a CBO score -- and thus no real idea how much the bill could end up costing taxpayers. The fact that members have to demand leadership follow these procedures is a disgrace.
Even if the bill passes the House, it still faces a potentially rough future in the Senate, where it needs all 50 Senate Democrats plus Vice President Harris to pass. On Monday, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said he still had concerns about the bill’s spending levels and effects on the national debt and inflation. Senator Manchin is right to worry that a $1.75 trillion bill will increase the debt, will cause even more inflation, and could lead to a major economic crisis.
Passage of these radical bills is still far from guaranteed and your pressure on your Representative and Senators is especially important.
If your Representative is a Republican, it is important that you contact them and demand they oppose both spending bills, as some Republicans are being tempted to cave in to the business lobby and vote for the “traditional” infrastructure bill.
You can reach your Senators and Representatives at 202-224-3121.