The House of Representatives is expected to cast the final vote for the $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package tomorrow morning and send it to President Biden's desk to sign it into law, but what comes next?
According to Bloomberg, the White House and congressional Democrats are in early discussions about a far larger omnibus bill that's more like the "grand bargain" that President Obama once tried to negotiate with Republicans.
The theoretical package would include trillions in spending on everything from infrastructure to health care over the next decade, but the key to the whole deal may be how to pay for it.
The “build back better” program that the White House says will be announced after Biden signs the $1.9 trillion aid bill will be far more expansive than its predecessor.
Spanning measures to address infrastructure, climate, health care, inequality and much more, and costing trillions of dollars over a decade, the initiative is far more complex. [...]
Democrats have announced that earmarks will be included in the infrastructure proposal, something that allows bargaining to fund particular priorities for individual lawmakers. But Republicans are still discussing among themselves whether to participate and are aiming to decide this week.
I believe as most of you probably do that Democrats should spend whatever we need to get the country pointed in the right direction, but we are going to have to pay for all of this at some point.
To that end, early talks on a future spending package include tax hikes that have already been endorsed by someone who may cast the deciding vote: Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin spoke to Axios over the weekend and endorsed a proposal to partially repeal Trump's tax cuts for corporations and wealthy shareholders to pay for the next package. Manchin's effort to get out ahead of the matters tell me he believes that's acceptable to his own constituents in conservative West Virginia.
The decision to include earmarks is probably more targeted at Manchin than it is Republicans who may be unreachable in any case. With a deciding vote, Manchin can ask for almost anything he wants in earmarks and get it. And you know what, that's fine? It's good. Give him a museum named after himself for all I care as long as he votes for the larger package.
This significantly larger spending proposal will not move as quickly as the COVID stimulus bill did and I don't expect we'll see a semi-final version of it until later this year.
I'm actually optimistic about the chances of something large passing. A trillion here, a trillion there; the public has been numbed to large numbers and Republican deficit hysteria just doesn't command the same amount of attention that it did when the president was Black.