"I think we’re building momentum and we’re continuing to build momentum,” Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who organized the letter with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), said in an interview Tuesday.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, conceded that the SALT deduction could be an obstacle to getting the infrastructure bill through. “Certainly there are some members that are very concerned about it,” he said. “It directly and negatively impacted my state and other states.”
Restoring that deduction isn’t entirely a non-starter for the White House, but it would cost tens of billions of dollars a year, forcing compromises elsewhere. And those competing demands offer a glimpse at the months-long road ahead for Democrats as they draft another enormous bill that — unlike Biden’s first pandemic aid package — will be a complex, time-consuming unity test for party leaders.
The clock is ticking, and Democrats want to move fast, with the aim of passing Biden’s sweeping proposal, at least in the House, by the start of the August recess.
Congress returned to Washington this week for a legislative session that theoretically gives them time to answer the many remaining questions about Biden’s package, with leadership, committee chairs and key caucus groups all planning meetings on where to go next.
For now, Democrats say the plan's three main pillars are in flux: the specific policy proposals, the pay-fors and the process.
“Number one: do we really want an infrastructure plan in Congress to pass — a bipartisan one?” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “Two: do we want to pay for it? Do we want to add to the debt? It’s going to be one or the other. And number three: What obviously classifies as infrastructure?”
The topic came up during Senate Democrats’ first in-person caucus lunch in more than a year. At the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer encouraged members to find areas where they could work with Republicans on infrastructure, according to a senior Democratic aide. The Senate is expected to consider a bipartisan clean water infrastructure bill during this work period.
But Schumer also warned his caucus that they don’t have the luxury of time, given the Senate’s packed agenda, as well as the time needed to process nominations and appropriations before the chamber's next recess in early May.