Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaking at a Senate Democratic Caucus press conference.
Michael Brochstein | Sipa United States | Sipa via AP Images
After months of wrangling, the Senate has just passed a $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution calling for $ 3.5 trillion in additional spending.
The way forward won’t be any easier for Democrats trying to push President Joe Biden’s gigantic economic plans through Congress.
“What we’re doing here is not easy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. “Democrats have worked for months to get to this point, and there is a lot of work ahead. But I can say with absolute certainty that it will be worth it.”
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Have a clear checklist in front of them. The House is to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill to send it to Biden for signature.
The Democrats’ separate plan to extend the social safety net and promote clean energy will require more action. The House must also pass a budget resolution. Then, congressional committees will take weeks to draft a bill that both houses of Congress can push through the reconciliation process, which would only require the vote of the 50-member Democratic Senate caucus.
With legislation of this magnitude, the process will likely take months – and could derail several times along the way.
For starters, Pelosi said she would not pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill or the latest Democratic spending package until the Senate passes both. A spokesperson for the president said on Wednesday that her strategy had not changed after the Senate approved the infrastructure plan and budget resolution.
Pelosi has come under pressure from some Democrats, including those in the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, to vote separately to pass the infrastructure plan. She’s tied the two packages together to keep her entire caucus on board, as centrists are wary of additional spending and progressives say the two-party plan is inadequate.
Unless there is a change in strategy, the House may not vote on final passage of either bill until much of the fall. The chamber will take its next concrete step the week of August 23, when Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Plans to vote to pass the budget resolution.
Democratic lawmakers will then turn to drafting their spending bill, which is expected to include a Medicare expansion, strengthened household tax credit extensions and a universal pre-K, among a host of other policies. . Schumer has set a September 15 target for Senate committees to complete drafting their parts of the reconciliation legislation.
The bill could be delayed in the Senate, where any Democrat can sink it. Centrist Democrats, including West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, voted for the budget resolution, but said they would not approve $ 3.5 trillion in spending.
“Given the current state of economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or a Great Recession – and not an economy on the verge of overheating.” Manchin said in a statement Wednesday.
Democratic leaders will need to come up with a plan that wins not only Manchin but also the liberal wing of the party that could withdraw a bill in the House or Senate. Progressives have said the reconciliation bill must do more to tackle climate change and support households than the bipartisan compromise did.
If the Democrats cut too much from the $ 3.5 trillion package to appease the centrists, they risk losing the support of the other end of the party.
As they navigate party disagreements, Democrats will also need to counter a barrage of GOP attacks on the reconciliation package. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said “this taxing and reckless spending frenzy is unlike anything we’ve seen.”
Republicans aim to make voting as difficult as possible for Democrats as they attempt to regain control of Congress midway through next year. Democrats, meanwhile, want to be able to get into the election campaign saying they helped put more money in the pockets of working families.
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