WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats pushed a 10-year, $ 3.5 trillion bill to strengthen the social safety net and climate programs through the House budget committee, but a Democrat voted “no,” illustrating the challenges party leaders face in securing the near unanimity they will need to push the sprawling package through Congress.
The Democrat-dominated panel, meeting virtually on Saturday, approved the measure in a vote close to the party line, 20-17. The passage marked a necessary but minor check of a procedural box for Democrats by bringing it closer to plenary debate. Under the budget rules, the committee was not allowed to significantly change the 2,465-page measure, the product of 13 other House committees.
Larger work has taken place in an opaque procession of mostly unannounced phone calls, meetings and other bargaining sessions between party leaders and grassroots lawmakers. President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., have waged a behind-the-scenes compromise hunt to resolve internal divisions and, hopefully, they will allow the mammoth bill to be approved soon.
Pelosi told fellow Democrats on Saturday that they “must” adopt the social and environmental package this week, along with a separate infrastructure bill and a third measure preventing a government shutdown on Friday. His letter to his colleagues underscored the crucial pile of work that the Democratic majority in Congress will face in the coming days and seemed an effort to step up the urgency to quickly resolve long-standing differences.
“The next few days will be a period of intensity”, she wrote.
Moderate Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., Joined the 16 Republicans on the budget committee to oppose the legislation. His objections included one that worries many Democrats: a reluctance to support a bill with provisions that would later be dropped by the Senate.
Many Democrats don’t want to become politically vulnerable by supporting language that might be controversial at home, only to see it not become law. This preference for voting only on a social and environmental bill that is already a House-Senate compromise could complicate Pelosi’s efforts for a House vote this week.
Peters was one of three Democrats who voted earlier this month against a plan favored by most of his party members to cut pharmaceutical costs by letting Medicare negotiate the prescription drugs it buys.
Party leaders have been trying for weeks to resolve disputes between Democrats over the final price of the package, which looks sure to decline. There are also disputes over which initiatives should be reshaped, including expanding health insurance, tax breaks for children and health care, a push towards cleaner energy and higher levies on health. the rich and the corporations.
The very slim Democratic majorities in the House and Senate mean a compromise is required. Before the measure approved by the budget panel on Saturday even hits the floor in the House, it should be amended to reflect the House-Senate deals that have been made, and further revisions are likely.
The comprehensive bill embodies the gist of Biden’s primary national goals. Budget panel chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., Quoted “Decades of divestment” on needs such as health care, education, child care and the environment as justification for the legislation.
âThe future of millions of Americans and their families is at stake. We can no longer afford the costs of neglect and inaction. It’s time to act,” Yarmut said.
Republicans say the proposal is unnecessary, unaffordable amid accumulated federal debt exceeding $ 28 trillion, and reflects Democrats’ willingness to put government into people’s lives. Its tax increases will cost jobs and include credits for the purchase of electric vehicles, purchases often made by people with comfortable incomes, they said.
“This bill is a disaster for working families”, said Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican. “It’s a big gift for the rich, it’s a comprehensive list of agenda items taken straight from Bernie Sanders’ socialist playbook.”
The unusual weekend session came as Main Democrats step up efforts to end increasingly bitter differences between the centrist and progressive wings of the party that threaten to undermine Biden’s platform.
Biden admitted on Friday that the Democrat talks were at a “dead end,” although Pelosi and Schumer were more positive in an apparent effort to build momentum and heal differences. A collapse of the measure at the hands of his own party would be a hurtful glimpse into the coming election year, in which control of the House and Senate is at stake.
To identify moderate support for an earlier budget plan, Pelosi vowed to begin the House’s consideration on Monday of another pillar of Biden’s national plans: a $ 1,000 billion collection of road and other projects. ‘infrastructure. Pelosi reaffirmed this week that the infrastructure debate will begin on Monday.
But many moderates who see the infrastructure bill as their main objective also want to reduce the social and environmental package by 3.5 trillion dollars and cut or reshape some programs. They understand the Meaning. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
In response, progressives – their top priority is the $ 3.5 trillion measure – are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill if it is voted on first. Their opposition seems likely to be enough to scuttle it, and Pelosi has yet to say when a vote on the final adoption of the infrastructure measure will take place.
With each side of the party threatening to upset the other’s most cherished goal – political disaster in the making for Democrats – the main Democrats are seizing the opportunity to speed up talks on massive social and climate legislation. The party cannot lose a vote in the Senate and a maximum of three in the House to succeed in Congress, which is divided into two parts.