Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.
Even as Washington remains gripped by the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, Congress managed to take a big step forward on President Biden’s domestic agenda.
In a rare mid-August session, the House approved a budget resolution that paves the way for consideration in the fall of a $3.5 trillion "soft" infrastructure bill that includes many of President Biden's domestic policy priorities. Although the details have yet to be worked out, the bill will likely contain provisions that provide universal pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-year olds, tuition-free community college, paid family and medical leave, and steps to address climate change.
Passage of the resolution was not certain until the very last minute, however, due to infighting between moderate and progressive Democrats. Progressive Democrats wanted to move ahead on the "soft" bill before taking up the Senate-passed bipartisan "hard" infrastructure bill, but a group of nine House moderate Democrats announced earlier this month that they would not vote for the resolution until the House passed the "hard" bill, essentially the opposite of the progressives' position. Because of the Democrats' narrow House majority, defections by either faction would doom the resolution. In the end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) negotiated a deal with the moderates ensuring that the House would take up the "hard" infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, allowing Democrats to pass the budget resolution to start the process of drafting the "soft" bill.
When Congress returns to Washington after Labor Day, committees in both chambers will begin writing the details of the $3.5 trillion bill. A major potential sticking point will be how to pay for it; Democrats have said they do not want the bill to add to the federal budget deficit, but President Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on people making under $400,000 per year. That leaves tax increases on higher earners and corporations on the table; the White House has proposed raising the top marginal individual tax rate to 39.6% and the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
In an effort to allay concerns that the bill will not harm small businesses, the Treasury Department said in an analysis last week that only three percent of small businesses in the country would see their taxes rise under the proposed $3.5 trillion soft infrastructure bill. Although the plan envisions an increase in the corporate tax rate paid by C corporations, very few small business organize as C corporations. According to the analysis, raising the top individual marginal tax rate to 39.6% would impact very few small businesses that organize as S corporations and partnerships. As always, the devil is in the details, and ACRA is watching the deliberations closely to understand the potential impacts on CRM firms.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service this week announced nearly $10 million in grants to assist 20 historic preservation projects, located on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 10 states. These grants come from the Historic Preservation Fund, which has faced increasing demand as states, tribes and communities ramp up preservation activities. The expected passage of the “hard” infrastructure bill means more projects will be coming down the pipeline, which in turn means more Sec. 106 reviews. ACRA and its allies are continuing to make the case to policymakers that an increase in funding for the Historic Preservation Fund will enable CRM firms and their partners in state and tribal historic preservation offices to complete Sec. 106 reviews in a timely manner and get infrastructure projects moving.
Support for the Historic Preservation Fund will be one of the key topics that ACRA members will bring to their Congressional representatives on ACRA’s 2021 Hill Day on September 9, at the outset of the ACRA Annual Conference. As Congress debates how to shape legislation that will impact nearly every aspect of the economy, it’s important for CRM professionals to make their voices heard.
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