The $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan seeks to expand education, health care and childcare support. It addresses the climate crisis and makes further investments in infrastructure not included in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate. As a reconciliation bill, it only needs 50 votes for passage in the Senate — bypassing filibuster rules.
Josh Nassar, Legislative Coordinator for the United Auto Workers (UAW), joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss what the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill means for workers, how it would be funded and why its investment is critical to the U.S. electric vehicle market.
A bill to help the middle class
The reconciliation bill is extremely comprehensive and broadly addresses infrastructure issues that have been failing in the nation for some time, Nassar stated.
While the Senate passed a $1 trillion bill to address physical infrastructure, the country has broader needs that were not included in the bipartisan bill. Working families struggle to make ends meet. The electric grid needs to be revamped. The country is falling behind as China takes the lead in the electric vehicle market. Young people need affordable options for college. The reconciliation bill incorporates all of these issues and more, Nassar pointed out.
Investments in infrastructure reliably create substantial jobs, fuel economic activity and provide workers a path to the middle class, Nassar stated.
While some may argue that the bill would add to the national debt, the bill would change tax law and make offshore investments less appealing to corporations, further encouraging U.S. job growth, Nassar said.
The bill would not raise taxes on the middle class, with tax increases only affecting those who make $400,000 or more per year, he said.
Filibuster-proof bill limited to spending issues
Because it is a reconciliation bill, the legislation does have limitations — its measures must address raising or spending money in order to qualify. It does not raise the minimum wage, for example. But reconciliation does protect the bill from the filibuster — it would only need the 50 Democratic Senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie.
Nassar acknowledged that Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has so far voiced opposition to the bill in its current form. He then pointed out that Manchin originally opposed such measures as the American Rescue Plan and the voting rights bill before eventually supporting both.
Bill would help U.S. leverage electric vehicle market
Nassar said the bill is critical in helping the U.S. leverage the electric vehicle market in its competition with China. The legislation would boost battery production and lead to the creation of good paying union jobs.
The UAW is on board with the switch to electric vehicles, but the change must be done in a way that ensures quality union jobs will be created in the process, Nassar said. Unions must be a part of the electric vehicle market moving forward, he stated.