The fate of Biden’s economic agenda at stake as House faces crucial vote | The domestic politics of the United States


Democrats are on the eve of a watershed moment – a moment that will determine the fate of Joe Biden’s ambitious economic agenda – as they rush to bridge internal divisions threatening to derail the adoption of the broad package of social policies and a smaller infrastructure bill.

Failure would be disastrous for the political outlook for the president and his party next year, but success was far from certain with less than 48 hours before a massive vote in the House on Thursday. Sign of the stakes, Biden canceled a planned trip to Illinois to stay in Washington and “continue to work on advancing these two laws,” according to a White House official.

“It’s a big week for the American people. It’s a big week for President Biden. It’s a big week for the House and Senate Democrats,” the New Congressman told reporters. York Hakeem Jeffries, Member of the House leadership. “We are not running away from it. We lean into it. We embrace it. We understand that we have had the opportunity to rule for the people, to rebuild better, it” is exactly what we are committed to doing.

Democratic leaders have publicly projected their confidence as they worked behind the scenes to craft a compromise proposal that satisfies the many competing demands and interests that have compromised his passage, including fierce opposition from two Democratic senators. With Republicans united in opposition, they will need the votes of all Democrats in the Senate and nearly all Democrats in the House.

“In the coming days, we hope to arrive at a place where we can all move forward on this point,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “We will pass both bills.

Democrats broadly share Biden’s vision for his “build back better” agenda, which includes a unique expansion of the country’s social safety net and a tax code overhaul. But disputes remain over the details of the legislation, from its overall size to key measures to tackle climate change and expand healthcare.

At the center of the uncertainty was an agreement Pelosi struck with moderates and progressives, to bind the infrastructure bill, which was passed by the Senate with bipartisan support and which would fund highways, the top debit and other infrastructure projects, to the much broader policy proposition, which would spend $ 3.5 billion over the next decade on democratic priorities such as climate change, health care and child care of children.

After promising to hold a vote on both measures at the same time, Pelosi told his caucus that the House should proceed with the passage of the infrastructure bill. as the Senate tries to reach consensus on the spending plan, after a pair of moderate holdouts retreated from its price. As they rushed to cut the bill, Pelosi indicated that the House would not accept a bill that did not have the support of the 50 Democrats in the Senate.

“The changed circumstances regarding the reconciliation bill necessitated a change in our Build Back Better legislation but not in our values,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, she signaled that the House would move forward with a vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday.

Progressives were furious at the change in strategy, with some calling it “treason”. Several members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said they plan to oppose the infrastructure bill on Thursday unless there is also a vote on the $ 3.5 billion legislation.

“Progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will vote for the infrastructure bill only after the president’s visionary Build Back Better Act is passed,” said MP Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the caucus, in a statement after questioning its 96 members. Tuesday.

Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Progressive House caucus, warned that most of its members would vote for the infrastructure bill only after the $ 3.5 billion package was passed. Photograph: Shawn Thew / EPA

Progressives in the Senate were also frustrated, saying they only supported the infrastructure bill because they understood the measures would be tied together in the House. Urging progressives in the House to keep the line, Senator Bernie Sanders warned that allowing bills to move forward separately “would end any leverage we have to pass a major reconciliation bill.”

“This means that there will be no serious effort to deal with the long neglected crises facing our country’s working families, children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. declared. “It also means that Congress will continue to ignore the existential threat to our country and our planet when it comes to climate change.”

If Democrats succeed, the legislation has the potential to transform millions of American families. It would extend the child tax credit, establish a universal pre-k, create a system of federally paid family and medical leave, in addition to an array of programs to tackle climate change and move the country through. renewable energies. The plan would be paid for by trillions of dollars in tax increases on Americans and wealthier businesses.

Biden said the total cost of the bill is actually “zero” since it will be offset by an increase in tax revenue over several years.

Republicans decried the scale of Biden’s spending and tax plan, saying it would stifle economic growth and worsen the country’s debt.

“These expenses are on a scale never seen before in our country,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, raising a copy of the 2,465-page bill. “This bill represents Bernie Sanders’ socialist dream.”

Amid the standoff, Biden held a series of White House meetings on Tuesday with West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema over their objections to the cost of his program.

“No commitments have been made,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill after his meeting with the president. “Just good negotiations.” He said he had not given Biden a proposed figure for turnover.

“This is clearly a pivotal moment,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, describing the president as “deeply engaged” with Democratic leaders and members to push through his platform.

“He is working closely with President Pelosi and Chief Schumer to achieve this,” she said. “And they are all lucid… on the challenge of what we are pressing to achieve this week.”

With Biden’s economic agenda on the line, Democrats are also scrambling to avoid a government shutdown and avoid a financial crisis with the national debt, after Republican senators blocked a measure that would have funded federal agencies and raised the limit. borrowing from the country.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that the consequences of not raising or suspending the debt ceiling would be “catastrophic.” Without Congressional action, she said the Treasury Department would struggle to pay its bills on October 18.

Hours later, Senate Republicans rejected a second attempt by Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, this time using a procedural maneuver to avoid obstruction.

Can Democrats save Biden’s platform, keep the federal government open, and avoid a tax calamity?

“You know me, I’m a born optimist,” Biden said on Monday, as he rolled up his sleeve to receive a Covid-19 booster. “We are going to do it.”

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