Good Morning from the Nation’s Capital
It is crunch time on infrastructure. The Biden Administration has set a loose deadline of Memorial Day weekend for a deal with the GOP. If the principals cannot make the necessary strides before then, Democrats will use budget reconciliation to pass the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan. During a briefing with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg attended by the OD&A team last week, Buttigieg said, “There are some timelines and clocks that are moving in some ways with or without us, if you think about things that just need to happen,” noting the upcoming reauthorization of the highway bill. “I think May in particular is a month where you’re going to see a lot of action.” However, the Administration has not abandoned the push for a deal with Republicans. Buttigieg still believes there is room for bipartisanship: “I think you see in so-called red and blue states alike, a lot of eagerness to make something happen here, if there’s any area of domestic policy left, where we can do something on a bipartisan basis, I’ve got to believe it’s on things like transportation infrastructure.”
Thursday, Biden and Buttigieg will meet with six members of the Senate GOP— Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.)—in hopes of getting closer to a bipartisan agreement. A day prior, Biden will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The hang up: how to pay for it all. Democrats and Republicans remain at loggerheads over how to pay for the repair of 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, expand broadband access to rural and underserved communities, replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines to ensure clean water, invest in research and development and manufacturing, and expand access to home and community-based care. The President is seeking to pay for the plan by hiking the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. Meanwhile, Republicans are adamant that no taxes be raised to pay for the plan, but have expressed openness to working with Biden on a compromise. On the corporate tax hike, Buttigieg said last week “I think this is a good policy… you don’t change tax rates for its own sake, you do it in order to fund important priorities. What we’re proposing here is not about punishing anybody. These rates aren’t even high by historic standards. We’re not calling for high taxes. We’re just calling for normal tax rates by American historical standards on corporations.”
In the State Capital…
Back in New York State, it was a busy week in Albany. The Legislature approved long-stalled legislation aimed at creating “safe staffing” standards for hospitals and nursing homes, as well as an extension of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium through August 31st. And on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or HERO Act, which was designed with essential workers in mind who have been at the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Department of Labor will be required to craft new rules for businesses regarding masks, personal protective equipment, air flow and social distancing that are designed to slow the spread of infectious diseases, from COVID-19 to the seasonal flu. The business community has strongly opposed the bill, expressing concerns the bill could open employers up to cascading litigation. The Governor and the Legislature have agreed to a Chapter Amendment that must now go back to the Legislature for passage before the law is in effect.
New York also took large steps in reopening. Last week, Governor Cuomo—along with Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey—announced a handful of reopening measures that will go into effect throughout the next few weeks in May: business capacity limits will be replaced with “space available to maintain six feet of social distancing” starting May 19; outdoor social gathering limits will increase to 500 starting today; indoor social gathering limits will increase to 250 on May 19; outdoor residential gathering limits are removed and indoor residential gathering limits increase to 50 on May 19 in New York; large-scale indoor venue capacity increases to 30% and large-scale outdoor venue capacity increases to 33% on May 19.
- Dana Carotenuto, Chief of Staff
- Sean Ewart, Senior Policy Advisor for Energy
- Khemenec Pantin, LMSW, Senior Policy Advisor for Human Services and Mental Hygiene
- Rich Azzopardi, Director of Communications and Senior Advisor to the Governor
- Colin Brennan, Senior Deputy Communications Director
- Jennifer Givner, Acting Press Secretary
- Jordan Bennett, Deputy Communications Director for Downstate
- Haley Viccaro, Deputy Communications Director for Energy and the Environment
- Victoria Lane, Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance
- Nadine Fontaine, General Counsel for DASNY
- Frank Hoare, General Counsel for the New York State Thruway Authority
This week, the Legislature returns to Albany with packed Committee agendas (read the Assembly agendas here and the Senate’s here) and floor calendars (read the Assembly and Senate Calendars here). The Legislature will also hold a public hearing on the implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (perhaps foreshadowing a push for more progressive measures like a carbon tax before the end of session).
For a complete guide on what to expect before the Legislature adjourns in June, check out O’Donnell and Associates End of Session “Policy Season” Preview.
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