US Politics and Policy Updates
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Joe Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda faces a major test this week as opposing factions within his party clash over how to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a much larger $3.5 trillion spending package.
Where management plunges into chaos AfghanistanThe House of Representatives returns from its summer recess early to consider presidential spending plans, including a multibillion-dollar budget.
Democratic Congressional leaders and the White House are trying to pass the huge budget and a trillion dollars bipartisan infrastructure package side by side to please both the progressive and moderate wings of the party. However, this tactic has exposed sharp differences among Democrats – and raised the possibility of not exceeding the budget or the infrastructure bill.
The Senate this month passed the infrastructure package, which will provide hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize America’s crumbling transportation systems in a rare bipartisan vote, with 19 Republicans voting alongside all 50 Democrats in the Senate.
But it needs House pass Nancy Pelosi, the chamber’s Democratic spokeswoman, said she plans to consider the budget proposal before switching to infrastructure.
Unlike the infrastructure bill, the budget plan is being pushed through the use of a procedure called reconciliation, which allows Senate Democrats to cross the 60-vote threshold and move forward on their own, without Republican support.
The budget was approved in the Senate earlier this month and contains many of the most important pledges from Biden’s 2020 campaign, including expanding Medicare and additional funding to combat climate change.
Moderate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kirsten Senema voted in favor of the resolution but said they would not sign a final package at such a high price.
Pelosi has sought to prioritize the budget decision to appease progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who say the infrastructure package does not go far enough and wants assurances that the $3.5 trillion budget plan will not be slashed significantly.
But in recent days, at least nine moderate members of the House of Representatives have expressed concerns about the cost of the budget and insisted they must vote on the infrastructure bill first. Lawmakers, including Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Jared Golden of Maine, said they won’t vote for the budget resolution if they don’t get what they want. Their threats carry weight given that Democrats control the House of Representatives by just eight votes — and Republicans are unlikely to sign off on the budget plans.
“We have the votes to pass this legislation right now, which is why I think we should first vote immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure package, send it to the office of the president, and then quickly consider the budget decision, which I plan to support,” Gottheimer said Saturday morning. “We need to get people to work and shovels into the ground.”
“The time to improve roads, bridges and broadband isn’t after months of infighting in Washington: It’s now,” Golden wrote on Twitter.
A House progressive, Ro Khanna, on Sunday urged fellow lawmakers not to block the vote: “A vote against Biden’s agenda this week is not just a slap in the face for the president, it will block any shot at embracing the policies that define us as Democrats.”
Pelosi last week appeared to offer a solution, asking lawmakers to craft a rule that would bolster both legislation at the same time, and later indicated that the rule could be linked to the Voting Rights Act as well. The plan was approved by the White House.
“The House of Representatives will legislate a rule that will allow us to introduce the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure and human resources bill 4 [on voting rights] “Until we make progress toward the bold vision that Democrats share,” Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday after a meeting with Biden.
On Saturday evening, Pelosi wrote to colleagues pledging to approve both bills by October 1.
“Any delay in passing the budget resolution threatens the timeline for achieving historic progress and the transformational vision that Democrats share,” Pelosi added.
But as of Friday, none of the moderate Democratic House members who had previously raised their concerns indicated they were satisfied with Pelosi’s solution, raising the prospect of a showdown this week.