In a letter to Democrats Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set her sights high, saying Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion spending package, a bipartisan infrastructure deal worth $ 1 trillion and a measure to expand government funding “must pass” next week.
Calling Friday September 30 “a meaningful date,” Pelosi said: “This week, we must pass an ongoing resolution, the Better Reconstruction Act and the” infrastructure deal. “
Government funding will run out at midnight on September 30. Pelosi did not mention legislation to extend the debt ceiling and prevent a US default, another flash point with Republicans.
The letter came against a backdrop of unified Republican opposition and bitter divisions between moderate and progressive Democrats that threaten to wreck Biden’s first-term agenda.
A Washington Post reporter wrote: “Well this is raising the stakes.”
During an unusual session Saturday on Capitol Hill in Washington, Democrats pushed through the $ 3.5 trillion 10-year spending bill through the House budget committee. At the same time, the leaders tried to resolve internal divisions.
Passage by the Democrat-chaired panel was secured, a necessary but less than a procedural check, bringing the gigantic bill one step closer to full House debate. The committee was not allowed to significantly amend the 2,465-page measure, the product of 13 other committees.
More important work was happening in an opaque procession of calls, meetings, and other negotiating sessions between leaders and legislators.
Biden, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must resolve differences among Democrats over the final price of the package, which is sure to be lowered. There are also disputes over which initiatives should be reformed, including expanding Medicare, tax breaks for children and health care, a push for cleaner energy, and higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations.
Tiny majorities in the House and Senate mean compromise is mandatory. Before the measure that the budget committee considered on Saturday reaches the House of Representatives, it is expected to be modified to reflect the agreements reached.
“The next few days will be a time of intensity,” Pelosi wrote to Democrats on Saturday, adding that the spending plan, the Build Back Better Act, “would ensure that the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share.”
Corporate lobbying against the plan has been widely reported.
The bill represents Biden’s top national goals. Democratic budget chairman John Yarmuth cited “decades of divestment” in needs like health care, education, childcare and the environment as the foundation of the legislation.
“The future of millions of Americans and their families is at stake,” Yarmuth said. “We can no longer afford the costs of negligence and inaction. The time to act is now.”
Republicans say the proposal is unnecessary, unaffordable amid federal debt that exceeds $ 28 trillion, and reflects Democrats’ drive to insert government into people’s lives. Their tax increases will cost jobs and include credits for the purchase of electric vehicles, they say, purchases often made by people with comfortable incomes.
“This bill is a disaster for working-class families,” said Jason Smith of Missouri, the top Republican on the budget committee. “It’s a great gift for the rich, it’s a long list of agenda items straight out of Bernie Sanders’ socialist playbook.”
A moderate Democrat, Scott Peters of California, joined 16 Republicans on the committee to oppose the legislation on Saturday. His objections included one that worries many Democrats: a reluctance to back a bill with provisions that will be scrapped by the Senate.
A collapse of the measure at the hands of Biden’s own party would be a detrimental advance for an election year. Biden admitted Friday that the talks were at a “stalemate.” Pelosi and Schumer were more positive.
To lock in moderate support for an earlier budget plan, Pelosi promised to begin considering the $ 1 trillion infrastructure package by Monday, September 27. The speaker reaffirmed this week that the debate will start on time. Given that the House meets late on Monday, it seems likely that a vote will take place on Tuesday.
Many moderates who see the infrastructure bill as their main goal want to cut the $ 3.5 trillion spending package and cut or remodel some programs. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been among the most visible centrists. Progressives threaten to reject the infrastructure bill.
Commitment is a requirement. Democrats cannot lose votes in the Senate and a maximum of three in the House. Biden met with more than 20 Democratic congressmen this week. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said such meetings would continue.
In her letter, Pelosi insisted that “I have never seen such a consensus as we have around the Build Back Better initiative.” To the warring factions of his party, before the caucus meeting on Monday, he said: “Thank you for your leadership to the people.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism