Schumer urges Democrats to unify amid divisions on Biden spending plan

Schumer urges Democrats to unify amid divisions on Biden spending plan
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) is pushing Democrats to unify amid high-profile divisions that are threatening to bog down President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s $3.5 trillion spending plan.

“Everyone, everyone is going to have input into this legislation. But of course our unity is our strength and if we’re not unified with 50 votes we can’t get anything done so we all must come together,” Schumer said on Tuesday.

He added that Democrats are making “great progress” toward having a bill ready to go to the floor.

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Schumer’s comments come as Democrats are facing deep splits over Biden's plan, including how big to go, how to pay for it and structuring long-held policy goals they want to include in the bill.

Because Democrats are using budget rules to pass the spending bill without GOP support, they need total unity in the Senate.

Progressives including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Democrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' MORE (I-Vt.) view the $3.5 trillion top-line figure as the floor of how low they think Democrats should go.

But moderates in both chambers have raised concerns about the spending and Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week Biden goes after top 1 percent in defending tax hikes MORE (D-Ariz.) have said they can’t support a $3.5 trillion price tag.

Senate Democrats are set to meet as a caucus on Tuesday, where committee chairs tasked with drafting pieces of the bill will discuss their proposals with all 50 members.

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“Later today, our caucus will discuss the latest elements of the reconciliation bill. Working with our colleagues in the House, we will have met the target date of Sept. 15 set in the budget resolution for producing text to review,” Schumer said.

Democrats had set a soft deadline for Wednesday for Senate committees to submit their pieces of the spending bill.

Asked if Schumer was saying Senate committees had submitted their pieces of the spending bill, a spokesman for the majority leader noted that senators had been working with their House counterparts, who are set to meet their Sept. 15 deadline for holding committee votes on pieces of the bill.

But there are splits among House and Senate Democrats that need to be resolved, including how to pay for the bill and policy specifics like when Medicare would start covering dental care.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters on Monday afternoon that a handful of Senate committees had worked out deals with their House counterparts at that point.

Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that his panel would not have a final draft until the language on immigration reform had been approved by the parliamentarian.

Democrats are hoping to get a plan to provide green cards for 8 million immigrants including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, agricultural and other essential workers into the $3.5 trillion spending plan.

“The language coming out of our Judiciary Committee is being vetted through the parliamentarian's office, so we are not prepared to do any final draft until we get that work done," he said.