Democrats fight for control of the infrastructure accelerator


Some House moderates urge party leaders to focus directly on the bipartisan bill, while many liberals remain skeptical of what will happen – and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to put it aside without a Democratic package support. A failed bipartisan result would force Democrats to draft a massive spending bill that unites all of their priorities.

Taken together, the Democrats’ decisions over the next few days will define what could be the biggest spending bill in history, offering their best chance at reshaping the federal government for years to come. Biden’s party has a rare opportunity with full control over Congress and the White House, but its majorities are so slim that even attempting the two-part move will be a daredevil act.

“If you add the two plans together, it would be the biggest bill in the history of the country,” said House Budget Speaker John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “There’s no way it’s going to be easy.”

After three months of painstaking negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set an ambitious timetable that envisions passing both a budget resolution to allow a huge tax and spending package just for Democrats, as well. than a vote on a deal with the Republican centrists to plow nearly $ 600 billion into roads, bridges and broadband. Schumer will reiterate the schedule in a Dear Colleague letter to Democrats on Friday, according to a Democratic aide, and will warn of the possibility of working long nights, weekends and during the August holidays to complete that job.

The majority leader has consistently called on White House chief of staff Ron Klain, along with his bipartisan group members and committee chairs in charge of a party line spending bill, including the work will run into the trillions.

Every Democrat knows partisan legislation could be the last big train this year they can tie their long-sought priorities, and the demand is high. Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Wants Medicare extended, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Is pushing for immigration reform and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) pushes her colleagues on childcare expenses. A whole list of progressives want a major climate focus. And there will be restrictions on moderates and Senate parliamentary spending on what can pass the rally and avoid GOP obstruction.

While Sanders initially suggested spending $ 6 trillion to complete the bipartisan deal, more moderate members are likely to cut that down to $ 4 trillion or even less – depending largely on what the senses moderate. . Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D -Ariz.) Agree. When asked if she had a number in mind, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Replied, “Yes, $ 6 trillion.”

In the House a bunch of centrists – already worried about their fragile majority – worry about the party invoice. And the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are deploying their forces and presenting demands, which will cause consternation among the moderates of the party.

With this political maelstrom still in turmoil, leaders may have to threaten to cut off part of Congress’ beloved August recess to make tough decisions and put the bills on track to meet Schumer’s aggressive schedule.

“This will be used as a way for us to get the job done, the threat of losing August recess when we can get home,” Duckworth said. “Maybe it’ll serve as a carrot on the end of a really big stick.”

Lawmakers will likely receive more clarity on the details of the bipartisan plan and its funding, as well as the outlines of the partisan budget reconciliation spending bill early next week. While Democrats on the Budget Committee and the bipartisan group aim to complete their work by then, no one is setting strict deadlines yet.

“We are working really hard to try to get something that can be worked out in the next few weeks,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (DN.H.), one of the more than 20 senators working on the project. bipartite law. “But I don’t want to be too specific. Because in my experience, deadlines always slip a bit.

There is also the question of whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could end up opposing the package, which could frustrate any effort to rally 10 GOP senators. McConnell spent the July 4 hiatus bombing Kentucky, saying he believed the bipartisan bill had a “decent chance” but also called for it to be “credibly” funded. The plan currently is to use increased IRS enforcement, unspent coronavirus aid, and privatization of infrastructure to cover the price of the bill.

Funding some of the trillions in spending on democratic-only priorities will be even trickier, given the party’s desire to raise taxes for big business and capital gains for the rich. Manchin has suggested more modest increases than Biden, but his support for both the spending plan and overturning part of the 2017 tax cuts law is a breakthrough in itself.

“Senate Democrats should look at each other and say, ‘We pledge to do a reconciliation bill.’ And I know Manchin is, ”said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Who suggested the figure of $ 4 trillion.

A successful July and August will require intense coordination from Schumer, Pelosi and the committee heads. They will need to ensure that the bipartisan bill can be passed by both the Senate and the House and that its twin reconciliation bill enjoys consistent support in both chambers, a dance more complex than the Democrats’ swift passage of the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus assistance law in March.

There has already been a lot of infighting, so much so that before the July 4 recess, Yarmuth and other party leaders begged their members to stop making political demands and drawing red lines, otherwise they would never find the support to do so.

Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Who has previously said he will vote against the House budget resolution, said “it’s time to stop” spending after the huge Covid package. Right now, House leaders can only afford to lose a few more Democrats.

“When I was talking to the White House legislative team the other day, they said, ‘Oh, I bet you stay up at night counting dollars on that,’” Yarmuth said. “I said, ‘No, I stay awake counting the votes.'”

Laura Barrón-López, Marianne LeVine and Lisa Kashinsky contributed to this report.


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