Biden Administration Agrees to Bipartisan Infrastructure Proposal
A bipartisan deal on a federal infrastructure package appears to be moving forward. The proposal would allocate $579 billion in new funding for a variety of projects – including roads, broadband internet and electric utilities. The plan is significantly scaled back from the $4 trillion package originally proposed by the Biden administration – which also would have carved out funding for child care and prioritized clean energy policies. While President Biden has agreed to the deal, he has said he won’t sign it unless a larger spending package also currently being pushed by the Democrats makes it to his desk as well. More information on the compromise and outstanding issues can be found in this New York Times analysis.
Ban on ‘Vaccine Passports’ Headed Toward Likely Veto
The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved legislation last week that would prohibit institutions of higher education and governmental entities from requiring individuals to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to access facilities or services. The legislation also put limits on the secretary of health’s powers during a disaster declaration. Under the legislation, the secretary would not have the authority to issue business closure orders or issue additional orders related to social distancing and masking. As noted in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Governor Wolf has vowed to veto the bill.
Vice President Harris Touts Administration’s Support of Unions in Pittsburgh Visit
Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh were in Pittsburgh last week to rally support for the administration’s infrastructure funding proposal and to highlight a newly created White House task force focused on labor issues. During one of her many stops in the Steel City, Harris proudly stated that she and President Biden were the “most pro-union administration” in history. She went on to reaffirm the administration’s commitment to supporting union jobs and also promoted the newly expanded child tax credit. You can read more about the visit here.
Wolf Administration Announces Staff Changes
Governor Tom Wolf’s Chief of Staff and Budget Secretary will be stepping down from their respective posts to take positions in the private sector. Mike Brunelle has been a key member of the governor’s senior team since the start of the administration, assuming the position of chief of staff in 2017. His last day was Friday. The governor has tapped former Deputy Chief of Staff Elena Cross to serve as the next Chief of Staff.
Jen Swails has served as Budget Secretary since 2019 following nearly 20 years serving in various fiscal and policy roles in both the legislature and state agencies. She will be replaced by Gregory Thall – who currently serves as Special Advisor to the Budget Secretary – on July 31.