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September 27, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Biden again urges Congress to pass infrastructure, reconciliation bills amid stalemate

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.

Summary: The fate of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion spending package is at risk amid Democratic infighting. Biden has acknowledged concerns, but urged Congress to pass both bills. Amna Nawaz begins our report, and joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

    • Who is currently unwilling to commit to passing both major bills mentioned in the piece, and why?
    • What are some of the things these two bills will potentially fund?
    • For how long will these bills cover future spending projects (that is, for how many years will the money requested for these projects get spent)?
    • Why are Democrats not yet in agreement on the passage of the bills?
    • How might Democrats in Congress resolve their differences?

Focus questions: 

  1. Do you think the process by which Congress determines spending bills is clear enough to the voting public? What could be done to make the process more transparent?
  2. If the U.S. was forced to prioritize its new spending based on limited budget, what do you think should be the highest priority?

Media literacy: Does this piece help viewers understand what is in these two large spending bills, and how it might affect their lives? Why do you think news segments so often focus on the conflict between congressional representatives more than the substance of potential bills?

Additional Resources:

  • Democrats control both the House and Senate with slim majorities, which limits what and how they can pass in Congress, since Republicans can still block many bills through the filibuster. Read this piece to learn more about budget reconciliation, the process through which some priorities can be passed without being subject to filibuster.
  • The first bill to receive a vote from the pair of bills described in this piece is the infrastructure bill passed in the Senate over the summer. That bill is now receiving consideration in the House. Check out this video breaking down the infrastructure bill, mentioned in the video above. 

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