Update from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team – August 19, 2021
On February 28, 2021, just one month into his term in office, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order calling for the establishment of a 21st Century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps (the original CCC). The goal of the new Civilian Climate Corps (new CCC) would be to employ Americans in critical conservation and resiliency projects in communities across the US. Since then, nearly a dozen members of Congress have introduced legislation to provide the structure and funding for the new initiative. These bills have all varied greatly around the details. Where do things stand now?
Budget Reconciliation Process
If we see funding for a CCC soon, it will likely be through the federal budget reconciliation process. Budget Reconciliation is a process that Congress uses to add funding to existing programs after the regular annual budget has already been passed. The Senate Budget Committee recently passed their budget resolution. This is the first step in the federal budget reconciliation process (click here to learn more about the reconciliation process). The resolution passed the Senate on a party-line vote (50-49).
The resolution contained instructions for committees as they work on a reconciliation bill to provide $3.5 trillion for a range of Biden administration priorities, including as much as $30 billion over the next ten years for the establishment and implementation of a Civilian Climate Corps. The Senate committees that will be involved in the reconciliation process for the CCC are Agriculture; Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP); and the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs.
The House is expected to go back into session the week of August 23; the budget resolution is expected to be one of the things they vote on. Once the House adopts its version of the budget resolution, the reconciliation process officially starts. At present, we hear that the House budget resolution will include $10 billion for the new CCC, which will be split among the House Committees on Agriculture, Education and Labor, Natural Resources, and Science. The nonbinding deadline for committees to report back legislation is September 15. Once the Committees report back, the budget reconciliation package will be pieced together from the various committee’s legislation for a giant bill that will be debated on the floor.
The exact timing is fluid on when the House will vote on the budget resolution. The fact that the Civilian Climate Corps is part of the budget reconciliation process is a huge development. We have essentially crossed that first hurdle in the development of the CCC!
The Senate also recently passed their bipartisan infrastructure package. The bill includes several Corps-friendly components. The language states that Corps are eligible to benefit from funding, partnerships and support through the following programs:
- Healthy Streets Program (under Transportation),
- Career Skills Training (under Energy), and
- Wildfire Risk Reduction (under Natural Resources).
The bipartisan infrastructure legislation has been sent to the House for their vote. Again, the timing is fluid on when exactly they will vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to maintain her position that the bipartisan infrastructure legislation cannot be advanced until the Senate has completed its budget reconciliation process. A group of nine moderate House Democrats have called for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation before they will consider the budget resolution. As the numbers stand, the House Democrats can only lose three votes from their party. So, we wait to see how the timing will work out on the votes for the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. Stay tuned!