Good Morning from the Nation’s Capital
As New York recovered from the budget process, Washington was full steam ahead on infrastructure and earmarks. A group of moderate Republicans and Democrats, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) are working on a “ballpark” $600-800 billion counter to the Biden Administration’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. Moore Capito got perhaps her biggest boost last Thursday, when close Biden ally Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) formally backed the compromise approach. Coons said that it would be smart to pass a scaled-down bipartisan infrastructure bill first and then take up the remaining priorities on Biden’s infrastructure agenda in a second bill that could pass the Senate under budget reconciliation. “We are trying to get $2 trillion in infrastructure and jobs investments moving ahead. Why wouldn’t you do $800 billion of it in a bipartisan way and do the other $1.2 trillion [Democrats] only through reconciliation?” he said.
However, the approach will be a tough sell with the rest of the Democratic Caucus, who likely already have the votes to pass the full $2.25 trillion package through budget reconciliation. Most notably, centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is refusing to back the compromise approach, saying last week, “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion but we have to pay for it.” While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Leadership remain committed to a $2.25 trillion package, they do still want to test the waters of bipartisanship and try to win Republican support. Schumer said last Wednesday that he intends to take up a $30 billion water resources bill as an initial test of Republican willingness to work with Democrats on Biden’s sweeping infrastructure proposal.
In the State Capital…
Further, the Governor has not taken questions from some reporters in the LCA since February. And new reports on Cuomo’s draft version of Leadership Lessons show that his relationship with the press has actually been strained for quite some time. The Governor bemoaned New York’s press corps throughout the draft, saying “they would shout, talk over each other, border on the obnoxious, be argumentative and no matter how long I took questions they would yell additional questions at the end of the briefing… The Albany press corps is the most bellicose. Unlike in Washington, the Albany press corps doesn’t travel so they don’t cover any events outside of the Capitol.”
The Legislature will be returning to Session in Albany this week for their first “post-budget policy season” Session days. Albany insiders have been back and forth whether or not it will be a slow two month end of the 2021 Legislative Session or a policy filled sprint through the June 10th scheduled finish. We are leaning toward the latter. With packed agendas this week (read the Assembly Agendas here and the Senate Agendas here), and a number of big picture policy issues on the horizon—including construction wage theft, gig economy, and data privacy—it looks like the remainder of April, May, and June will be busy. Stay tuned new week for a “policy season” preview of all of the key issues.
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