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Recovery, Explained

Since passing the American Rescue Plan, Congress has been working on a recovery package. There are three main pieces of recovery that we will review. The timing of these bills is important as progressives are leveraging their power to ensure a bold recovery for all people.

In this resource, we’ll outline:

  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)
  • The Democratic Budget Process
    • The Budget Resolution (Step 1)
    • Budget Reconciliation (Step 2)

Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) is a physical infrastructure (think roads and bridges) deal negotiated with Republicans. This bill passed the Senate in the beginning of August by a vote of 69-30. This bill moved under regular order, meaning it has to get 60 votes to clear the filibuster. BIF lacks ambition both in size and scope - the overall funding is way too small and it is narrowly focused on physical infrastructure when we need a robust recovery that touches all parts of life. That being said, progressives are not focusing on the content of this bill. Instead, House progressives are refusing to vote for the BIF (which President Biden, moderate Democrats and many Republicans want) until after the Senate sends over an inclusive recovery package that includes progressive priorities. This is a great use of progressive power!

In short, this bill lacks ambition, but is being used by progressives to get more out of recovery. The Senate passed BIF at the beginning of August where progressives in the House are holding it until the Senate passes both a budget resolution (step 1) and a reconciliation bill (step 2).

The Democratic Budget Process

Budget Resolution (Recovery Step 1)

The budget resolution is the first step of the budget process. Progressives are using the budget process to pass a robust recovery package. The budget resolution and budget reconciliation only require 50 votes to pass the Senate. At the beginning of August the Senate passed the Budget Resolution by a vote of 50-49.

The budget resolution provides a topline funding number, kind of like a salary for the nation. The budget resolution also outlines the major sectors of the economy that will be included (though doesn’t get into details, that comes in Step 2). Since April, we’ve been fighting alongside progressives in Congress to make sure that our recovery priorities - immigration, housing, health care, climate, and care - are included in the budget resolution, which they were!

In short, this resolution starts the budget process and sets a topline number for recovery - the Senate passed a version that includes all of our priorities Currently, both the BIF and the Budget Resolution are in the House where progressives have vowed to withhold their votes on BIF until the Senate passes an inclusive recovery to the House. This is a great show of progressive power which we support. In order to pass an inclusive recovery to the House the Senate must pass a comprehensive reconciliation bill (step 2).

Budget Reconciliation (Recovery Step 2)

This bill fills in the specifics that were outlined in the budget resolution. The budget resolution decides what programs will be funded and the dollar amount they receive. We want all of our programs to be funded really well, because it doesn’t help if you fund a program so poorly it can’t function.

The budget reconciliation phase is subject to rulings about what is allowed and not by the Senate parliamentarian, so some priorities may not weather this procedure. While those rules are maddening (and it’d be better for the Senate to just eliminate the filibuster!) following them allows a reconciliation bill to pass with 50 votes.

In short, our priority for reconciliation is to have all of our priorities funded and funded well. We expect this bill to be drafted over August recess and move through Congress in September.

What you can do

The timing of recovery is really important and we need to hold MOCs accountable to moving quickly to deliver a much needed recovery for people as soon as possible. Additionally, we need to make sure all of our priorities are included in the budget resolution and reconciliation bill. You can call your MOC to demand they prioritize our priorities here:

Additional resources