News

This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package

President Biden, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Greg Nash

Democrats are trying to hit the gas on President Biden’s two-part spending package, as they look to close the door on weeks of public haggling. 

After missing a self-imposed deadline to get an agreement on a framework for a sweeping social spending bill by the end of last week, Democratic leadership, the White House and key lawmakers negotiated throughout the weekend. 

Democrats say they are close to an agreement on the spending bill that would cover ground on a slew of policies including child care, education, health care, housing and climate change.

That, Democratic leadership hopes, could also let the House vote this week on a Senate-passed roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

“That’s the plan,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a CNN “State of the Union” interview, asked about the possibility of a deal on the spending bill and a vote on the separate infrastructure legislation in the next week. 

Democrats passed a budget resolution earlier this year that let them pass a bill of up to $3.5 trillion on their own without GOP support in the Senate under arcane budget rules. 

But Democrats have spent weeks privately haggling — and publicly feuding — as they’ve had to narrow the scope of the bill and figure out what can win over all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Conference and nearly every House Democrat. 

“It is less than was projected to begin with, but it’s still bigger than anything we’ve ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America’s working families,” Pelosi added. 

Biden hosted Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in Delaware on Sunday as they tried to hash out final details. 

Manchin is a key vote. He’s put his top-line figure at $1.5 trillion, though administration officials are hoping to drive him up slightly from that figure. He’s also raised concerns about a climate change plan that was a key part of the House-drafted bill, pushed for income-based means testing and work requirements for a child tax credit and questioned an expansion of Medicare benefits. 

“The President hosted Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin for breakfast at his home in Wilmington for what was a productive discussion about the Build Back Better Agenda, including equipping Americans to get back to work and making our economy deliver for the middle class — not just those at the top,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting. 

“They continued to make progress, will have their staffs work on follow-ups from the meeting, and agreed to stay in close touch with each other and the wide range of members who have worked hard on these negotiations,” the White House added. 

Biden said during a CNN town hall late last week that expanding Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental was a “reach.” 

But the expansion is a major priority for progressives. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appeared to fire back in a tweet over the weekend, drawing a red line on keeping the expansion in the final bill. 

“The expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision is one of the most popular and important provisions in the entire reconciliation bill,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday.

“It’s what the American people want. It’s not coming out,” he added.

Progressives have warned for months that they won’t help pass the Senate infrastructure bill without the larger spending deal. 

But Democrats are under pressure from some within their party to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal once they have an agreement on the social spending bill, even if they still need to draft and iron out last-minute details.

Afghanistan attack 

The House is poised to pass a resolution awarding a congressional gold medal in remembrance of the U.S. troops who were killed during an attack in Afghanistan in August. 

Thirteen service members were killed during the attack at the Kabul airport, where U.S. troops were stationed to help evacuate Americans and Afghan allies ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline to end the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan. 

The Biden administration had warned that they believed the airport was a prime target for terrorist organizations in the wake of the fall of the Afghan government and the Taliban retaking Kabul. ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, claimed credit for the bombing. 

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced a companion resolution in the Senate.

Nominations

The Senate will grind through more Biden nominations on the Senate floor. 

The Senate is expected to hold two votes on Monday evening, the first on Douglas Parker to be an assistant secretary of Labor and then on Myrna Perez’s nomination to a U.S. circuit judge on the 2nd Circuit. 

Schumer has also teed up several additional nominations that the Senate will start voting on Tuesday: Jia Cobb to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia, Karen Williams to be U.S. district judge for the District of New Jersey, Patricia Giles to be a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, Michael Nachmanoff to be U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Virginia and Sarala Nagala to be U.S. district judge for the District of Connecticut.  

Tags Bernie Sanders budget reconciliation budget reconciliation package Build Back Better Build Back Better plan Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Climate change Congressional Gold Medal Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kabul airport attack Medicare expansion Nancy Pelosi nominations Paid Family Leave Steve Daines

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video