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Murphy Takes Stand: She’ll Oppose ‘Rushed’ Reconciliation Package

September 9, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Stephanie Murphy. (via Twitter)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said Thursday that she plans to vote against the spending and tax measures currently before the House Ways and Means Committee, chiding party leaders in the process for failing to give members adequate time to assess what’s being included in the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

Murphy announced her position at the very start of Thursday’s markup session, telling her colleagues she believes the “artificial” deadline for drafting the Ways and Means component of the massive spending bill has been “too rushed” and is being driven more by politics than by policy.

“My constituents expect me to consider bills in a thorough and transparent way,” Murphy said later in a Twitter post reiterating her position. “While I support many provisions in the Build Back Better Act, it’s being rushed through my committee before we know exactly what’s in it, what it’s going to cost, and how we’re going to pay for it.”

Murphy was one of the 10 House moderates who last month temporarily put the brakes on a procedural budget resolution needed to kick start the reconciliation process. 

The group sought a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that there would be a date certain for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill previously passed by the Senate, and that also wanted a commitment that any package the House brings to the House floor will be pre-negotiated with the Senate to ensure it has enough support to pass in that chamber without major changes.

More than a dozen House committees are now marking up their contributions to the package, and they all have been given a Sept. 15 deadline to get their parts done. The individual pieces will then be submitted to the House Budget Committee, which will then assemble the contributions into a single package.

But Murphy’s objections suggest Democratic leaders will have to slow down the reconciliation process if they want the moderates on board — and given the slim majority in the House, they can’t really afford to lose any of them.

The Ways and Means Committee’s piece of the puzzle is especially critical as it’s expected to account for about half of the spending in the $3.5 trillion package and almost all of the revenue that will be needed to pay for it.

On Thursday, Murphy said she’d only seen a small portion of the spending measures the committee plans to consider and not one of the revenue-raising proposals.

“To date I have only received the text of Subtitle A through Subtitle E.  As far as I’m aware, our committee has not received official CBO scores of these subtitles, with the exception of Subtitle B, which involves retirement policy,” she said. “Even more concerning, we have not received the remaining subtitles or the scores associated with them.  In fact, I don’t even know how many more subtitles there will be.

“I don’t know how much we’re spending, how much we’re raising, how we’re spending some of the money and how we’re raising any of the money,” she said.

Murphy said she can’t properly evaluate those proposals — “however worthwhile they appear in isolation” — without cost estimates or details on what other policies will be part of the broader package.

“I don’t think it is asking too much to want to see this bill in its entirety before voting on any part of it,” she said. “I think that’s asking for the absolute minimum, especially when we’re proposing to create or change programs that will affect my constituents at every stage of their lives.”

Murphy said she recognizes that given the nature of the legislation, touching on everything from social programs to climate change, Democrats “must advance these … proposals through reconciliation because of Republican obstruction.”

But, she said, that makes it even more important to “legislate in a thorough and transparent way.”

“Process matters, because I want my constituents to have faith in what I’m doing and because a good process makes it more likely we will produce a good bill that can become law,” she said, adding, “We need more time to get this process right.  A little more time to ensure we have all of the subtitles, not just some of them.  A little more time to make sure we have official scores for all the subtitles, not just unofficial scores for some of them.”

At present, Murphy said, she believes she’s in an impossible position.

“I have no choice but to vote ‘no’ on each subtitle and on final passage,” she said.

It remains to be seen whether any of the other moderate 10 follow her lead.

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