Congress returns for week of crisis, Democrats have centrist problem

The House and Senate return to session this week, and Democrats have a long to-do list and little to no margin for error. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) list the main priorities Sunday: “Keep the government open. Don’t default on the debt. Make sure the president gets a victory on the infrastructure bill… and, of course, the mother of all legislation, the reconciliation package.” And, he added, “failure is not an option.”

Democratic leaders are expected to unveil a short-term spending bill that would also suspend the debt ceiling, Politics reports, and Republicans threatened to block it. The House is expected to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate by September 27, although progressive House leaders have threatened to reject it unless moderate Democrats first back the bill. reconciliation plan, a bill worth up to $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years. And centrist Democrats are already digging holes in the multibillion-dollar package.

First of all. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) told President Biden last week that she would not support a key proposal to lower the prices of Medicare drugs, Politics reports. Sinema – who “ranks among Congress’ top recipients of pharmaceutical industry donations, according to Kaiser Health News analysis” – also currently opposes a clean-lined alternative from House centrists. A spokesperson said that “Kyrsten is working directly in good faith with his colleagues and President Biden on the proposed budget reconciliation plan.”

Then there’s Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, who will lead the drafting – and downsizing – of the climate part of the package, The New York Times reports. “His beloved West Virginia is second in coal and seventh in natural gas production,” and “Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator” in the current electoral cycle. Manchin also made nearly $ 500,000 last year from a coal brokerage firm he founded. Many Progressive Democrats are already angered at Manchin for insisting they cut the bill and push back on passage – and also fear that he will sink the whole package.

“Senior Democrats recognize that the coming weeks are filled with landmines,” Politics reports, but “they argue that party members will eventually unite and not waste a unique opportunity to pass social reforms such as universal child care, paid family leave and expanded health care programs.” “

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