Senate Passes Budget Resolution, $332B for Housing and Transportation

On Tuesday, Aug. 10, the Senate passed a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill to improve and modernize the nation’s roads and bridges. Included in the plan are funds for broadband infrastructure. The plan allocates $65 billion to “bridge America’s digital divide and build a 21st century infrastructure that will meet our country’s needs not only today, but for years to come.”

The following day the Senate took a step toward enacting a vast expansion of the nation's safety net by approving a $3.5 trillion spending blueprint for President Joe Biden's key priorities, which include climate change and affordable housing.

Context: With a thin majority in the Senate, the Democrats quickly focused on a budget resolution containing spending instructions for the $3.5 trillion follow-up package. Democrats plan to use a process called "budget reconciliation " to push the package through over the next few months. Doing so bypasses the chamber's normal rules requiring 60 votes to pass most legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that her chamber won’t take up the infrastructure bill or spending package until both are delivered, which will require the Democratic leadership to hold its narrow majorities in Congress together to get the legislation to Biden's desk.

What you need to know: A memo to Democratic senators issued on Aug. 9 regarding the budget resolution agreement framework stated that the "Budget Committee’s objective was to provide instructions that allow every major program proposed by President Biden to receive robust funding." Also, the memo stated, "The Chairs of the Committees are actively working to develop the specific policy proposals that would be enacted in the Reconciliation bill."

Investments in affordable housing will come out in the budget reconciliation process. The budget resolution calls for more than $332 billion for housing and transportation investments. The allocation for those investments could allow for robust housing investments in line with or even above the $318 billion proposed for housing programs by President Biden in his “American Jobs Plan.” That $318 billion figure included $105 billion in housing-related tax provisions and $213 billion in direct investments.

The budget resolution is now headed to the House for approval. Once the budget resolution is approved there, the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee will draft legislation to determine how to invest their allocations in various housing and transportation programs.