Senate Republicans Planning Procedural Objections to Infrastructure Plan

Senate Republicans Planning Procedural Objections to Infrastructure Plan lindsey graham speaks from podium Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a news conference in response to President Joe Biden’s withdrawal announcement from Afghanistan at the U.S. Capitol on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 20 April 2021 09:40 AM

Republican lawmakers plan to argue that numerous elements of President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure package are in violation of the special budgetary rules Democrats are expected to use to pass the measure with a majority vote in the 50-50 Senate, The Hill reports.

Republicans will reportedly bring up various procedural objections in an attempt to derail the package.

The GOP lawmakers maintain key provisions of the infrastructure package will have a tough time getting through the Senate intact because key provisions will open the legislation to challenges under the Byrd Rule.

"It’s a target rich environment," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. "There are a lot of problems."

According to the Hill, Graham has discussed with his staff about how to use the Byrd Rule to block components of the infrastructure plan if Democrats pursue the budget reconciliation process. The move would allow them to sidestep a likely GOP filibuster.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough had ruled earlier this month that the infrastructure package could be treated as a revision of budget legislation. This would bypass a Republican filibuster requiring that the measure attain 60 votes to pass, rather than a simple majority of 51 votes — which is easier for Democrats to achieve in the evenly split Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris yields the tie-breaking vote.

But several of the infrastructure plan's provisions, such as a clean energy standard, would have to be removed or amended before final legislation would be allowed to pass via reconciliation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

And, The Hill noted that Republicans say they can make a strong case to strike down a section of Biden’s plan that calls on Congress to pass the Protecting Right to Organize Act, or PRO, which would curb state right-to-work laws and penalize employers who interfere in union drives.

The White House maintains that increased unionization will spark economic growth by improving productivity.

But Republicans insist it is a labor policy change and not permitted under the rules set by the parliamentarian.

"It’s almost a no-brainer from my perspective: That would not pass the Byrd Rule provision," said Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee. "It certainly is important to the president, to his agenda, but it is merely incidental from a fiscal policy perspective.

"The unions, the unionization, the provision as it relates to regulations for red-lining and all the other things that are in there would not qualify," he said, referring to language covering caregivers and exclusionary zoning. "Anything dealing with regulatory activity would not qualify either."

And The Hill reported that some Democrat policy experts agree that language strengthening the hands of union negotiators appears to conflict with Senate rules governing what can be included in a reconciliation package.

"The Pro Act does not fit under budget reconciliation," one former Senate Democrat aide said.

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