Full Committee Markup - Budget Reconciliation II (September 14, 2021)
2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing
The T&I Majority approved its nearly $60 billion, partisan contribution to Speaker Pelosi’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation tax and spending spree.
Reckless Spending: With this package and other spending, the Majority intends to spend approximately $7 trillion over the first 9 months of this year. This is after Congress provided $6 trillion last year to address COVID, and before considering the need to fund the government at the end of September.
Hyper-Partisanship: Nearly all Republican amendments offered at markup were rejected. Highlights include:
A Republican amendment by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) was approved requiring an accounting of any U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers equipment that was left behind during the Administration’s recent chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Included among the Republican amendments rejected by the Committee’s Majority:
Prohibiting vaccine mandates in federal buildings: This Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) amendment would have prohibited the use of funds in this legislation to impose or support vaccine mandates, or requirements for verification of vaccine status, as a condition to enter a federal building. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data is still limited with respect to some individuals, including those with weakened immune systems. Furthermore, requiring proof of vaccination to access public buildings could impact the efficacy of building security and privacy protections.
Preventing diversion of FEMA resources to the border: This Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) amendment would have prevented the diversion of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources from its disaster response efforts to address issues at the southwest border without a comprehensive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) strategy on addressing COVID-19 impacts on the health and safety of state and local communities, federal personnel, and migrants.
Halting bill’s spending until inflation is lower: This Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) amendment would have required Congressional Budget Office (CBO) certification that inflation is below 3 percent before funds from this measure can be spent. Prices have surged by 5% for each of the past three months, and inflation is expected to stay at 4% over the next three years.
Stopping a “double dip” on creation of a new green program: This Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) amendment proposed striking the $50 million for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) performance measure and require states to set performance targets. During negotiations of the Senate infrastructure bill, the Senate and White House already considered this specific policy and chose to exclude it. The provision in the T&I budget reconciliation measure therefore violates the President’s agreement against using reconciliation to “double dip” on issues that were already litigated in the Senate bill. This provision also likely violates the Senate Byrd rule and would have to be stripped out.
Providing relief for Hurricane Ida and other disaster victims: A Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) amendment that would have provided $10 billion in disaster assistance for disaster victims of Hurricane Ida and other disasters.
Ensuring sufficient public input into Biden Administration WOTUS rule: This Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) amendment would have helped ensure the American People have a say in what qualifies as “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This amendment, prompted by the Biden Administration’s announcement that it is repealing and replacing the previous WOTUS rule, would have ensured that feedback from impacted individuals and stakeholders was captured by requiring the Biden Administration to re-open and extend by 60 days its brief stakeholder comment period that closed on September 3, 2021.
Prohibiting critical race theory training at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy: This Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) amendment would have prohibited U.S. Coast Guard Academy training based on critical race theory.
Preventing “double dip” funding for high-speed rail: This Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) amendment proposed striking funding for high-speed rail, which was already addressed in the Senate infrastructure bill. Inclusion of high-speed rail funding in this measure violates the President’s no-double-dipping- agreement with the Senate.
Protecting U.S. energy development and infrastructure: This Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) amendment would have prohibited using funds for communications, transactions, or transport involving OPEC to import crude oil without first ensuring that all domestic opportunities for extraction, production, safe transportation, and acquisition of oil and other forms of energy have been fully and equally considered. This amendment would have addressed the Administration’s policy of discouraging domestic energy production while asking OPEC to increase its output.
Preventing any funding from supporting human rights violations: This Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) amendment would have ensured taxpayer dollars do not fund human rights violations. The fact is that, despite the Administration’s and Majority’s push for our greater reliance on electric vehicles (EVs), their policies discourage the domestic sourcing of the minerals and materials essential to EVs and EV infrastructure, such as cobalt and lithium ion batteries. As a result, the U.S. remains largely dependent on China – and its record of supporting forced and child labor practices – for those resources. Note: the Majority did not approve Rep. Stauber’s original amendment as described above, but did approve an alternate version they modified with a second degree amendment and rendered essentially meaningless.
Preventing jurisdictions that defunded police from using NHTSA funds to backfill police budgets: This Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) amendment would have ensured jurisdictions that have defunded the police cannot use National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funds to backfill their police budget cuts. This amendment would not have reduced NHTSA grant funding a state receives; it simply would have closed a potential loophole that could allow a jurisdiction that has chosen to defund the police to continue to fund law enforcement activities with NHTSA dollars. This amendment would have simply affirmed the actions a jurisdiction has already taken.
Stopping a “double dip” on transit funding: This Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) amendment proposed striking funding for $10 billion for a new transit program. This new transit program is being created in spite of the President’s agreement against double-dipping on issues addressed in the Senate infrastructure bill. Transit has received historic levels of federal investment over the last 18 months, including $69.5 billion in the COVID relief packages, $12.8 billion in through the FY 2021 appropriations process, and the Senate infrastructure bill will provide another $91.15 billion.
Providing funding for emergency maritime relief: This Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) amendment would have redirected $3.5 billion in transit funding to the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief program and provided vital relief to the maritime industry as it continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the related cargo surges, and Hurricane Ida. Funding this program, first authorized last year in H.R. 7515, is a bipartisan priority but has yet to receive any funds from Congress.