Democrat John Yarmuth ‘Not Sure’ Congress Can Pass Budget Necessary for Infrastructure Bill

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 01: Rep. John Yarmuth speaks during the Protecting Working Families Tour at The Galt House Hotel on December 1, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
Stephen Cohen/Getty Images for MoveOn.org

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) said he is “not sure” Congress can pass a budget necessary for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure program during an interview with Punchbowl News Friday.

Yarmuth said Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill faces significant political headwinds. Democrats will likely pass the infrastructure bill using budgetary reconciliation with the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Budgetary reconciliation allows Congress to pass a spending-related bill with only a simple majority in the Senate, not 60 voters. However, to use reconciliation, Congress must first pass a budget containing budgetary reconciliation instructions.

Republicans used reconciliation to pass the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and they wanted to use reconciliation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Democrats successfully used reconciliation to pass their partisan $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill early in the Biden administration.

The Democrats’ headache arises because they have to pass a budget resolution both Yarmuth and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the Senate Budget Committee chairman, agree to.

Yarmuth said his budget resolution would likely not mirror Sanders’, meaning they would likely have to strike a compromise that could pass through the razor-thin Democrat majorities of both chambers of Congress.

“I’m not sure we can pass it,” Yarmuth told Punchbowl News.

Reconciliation also contains limitations on the type of spending Congress can include in a budgetary reconciliation bill.

The Senate’s “Byrd rule,” established by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), mandates reconciliation bills cannot include policies without direct budgetary impact or budget effects that are “merely incidental” to the underlying policy.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said he is reluctant to use reconciliation for an infrastructure bill because of the Byrd rule.

For instance, the Senate’s parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled funding for a bridge in upstate New York and a Silicon Valley transit program violated the rules for budgetary reconciliation. This could easily limit the scope of the infrastructure package.

“I don’t understand the ‘dead guy rule,’ and I don’t care to. They should just do away with it,” DeFazio said in February.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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