Public Policy Update - May 2021
Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at email@example.com.
Second Part of Biden Infrastructure Plan Emphasizes Key Grantmaker Priorities
In our last Public Policy Update, we reviewed President Biden’s $2 billion infrastructure plan – while it did include funding for some items of concern to foundations, particularly broadband access, it was mostly geared toward a big investment in public works projects.
The second part of Biden’s plan, however, focuses on a different type of infrastructure – the social safety net. The $1.8 trillion proposal, known as the American Families Plan, would invest in areas familiar to philanthropy, including education, health care and childcare.
The plan would provide funding for two years of tuition-free community college, universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave and affordable childcare, among other programs. The proposal would be funded in part by $1.5 trillion in tax increases on individuals making more than $400,000.
Biden discussed both the earlier infrastructure plan and the American Families Plan during his address to a joint session of Congress earlier this month.
In welcome news, the proposal does not include a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction, that Biden floated during his campaign. In advance of the release of the American Families Plan, charitable organizations, including the Charitable Giving Coalition, sent letters to the administration requesting that the charitable deduction be excluded from any proposed caps on itemized deductions, the concern being that limiting the scope of the charitable deduction would significantly reduce charitable giving.
Democrats in Congress are now beginning the work of moving Biden’s proposals through the legislative process – in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated she would like to pass a version of the plan by July 4. Biden and Democrats have made overtures to Republicans to craft a package with bipartisan support, but if that fails to produce an agreement, they still have the option of using the same budget reconciliation process employed for the COVID relief bill earlier this year. That tool, however, would require Biden to win the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate, where they have the slimmest possible majority thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
SECF Signs Sector-Wide Letter on Charitable Reforms
SECF has joined dozens of other philanthropy-supporting organizations and foundations in signing a letter to congressional leadership and leaders of relevant committees, urging them to include the charitable organizations that would be directly impacted in any conversations around proposed reforms to the charitable sector. The letter, drafted by the United Philanthropy Forum, calls for any policy reforms to the charitable sector to be crafted through thoughtful, data-driven decisions and comes as several sector critics have proposed comprehensive, one-size-fits-all reforms to private foundations and donor-advised funds.
The Forum is encouraging other charitable organizations to sign onto the letter. You can find more information about how to sign on here.
White House Promotes Vaccination Partnerships for Faith-Based and Community-Based Organizations
Last Thursday, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships held an event highlighting partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) and faith-based organizations (FBOs) to get Americans vaccinated. The event included panels with representatives from the federal government, state and local governments, vaccine administrators, and the faith-based community. The panels focused on the trust FBOs and CBOs have within their communities, putting them in an ideal position to combat vaccine hesitancy and reach underserved groups.