Senate Democrats are hitting roadblocks as they attempt to move forward with key agenda items.
AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs Bill Samuel works first-hand with Senators on these key pieces of legislation. Samuel joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss the progress being made on the pro-worker agenda. He gave an update on the American Jobs Plan, the filibuster, the PRO Act and more.
Passing the American Jobs Plan
Congressional Democrats have been working to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill since President Biden took office. The issue has been kneecapped by funding issues, what is included and more.
While President Biden initially proposed a multi-trillion dollar plan encompassing everything from roads and broadband to elder and child care, Republicans have sought a much smaller package. Their version only addresses roads, bridges and other more traditional infrastructure.
Recently a group of moderate Senators worked out a plan worth roughly $550 billion. This plan is to be paid for using existing funds, going against the original Biden plan of increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
Samuel said the White House may be on board with this plan, but should have their worries. Passing a smaller bill would require the rest of the items to be passed through reconciliation. This adds an additional step to the process that all Democrats may not support.
Progress on the PRO Act
A similar situation is occurring with the PRO Act, another key Biden issue. Republicans have dug in against the pro-worker legislation and a few Democrats are still not on board.
Samuel said union members in Arizona are working hard to get their Senators to support the PRO Act. Union groups have been holding town halls and other events in an effort to sway their elected officials.
Other efforts have focused on Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), as she can sometimes be relied on as a swing vote. The White House has also implemented strategies, such as developing a task force to encourage unionism and collective action.
Passing legislation in a split Senate
Samuel said there are few tools that can be done to get around Republican opposition to pending bills.
One common suggestion is to remove the filibuster rule. Samuel said Republicans found ways around the 60-vote threshold and Democrats should begin doing the same. The filibuster has been used by conservative Senators to prevent civil rights legislation and labor legislation since its inception.
He also suggested Democrats use budget reconciliation to pass key agenda items. Republicans used reconciliation under former President Trump to pass a tax cut for wealthy Americans. He would like to see Democrats use this process when necessary.