Senate

Schumer eyeing Build Back Better vote as soon as week of Dec. 13

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to bring President Biden's social spending and climate bill to the floor as soon as the week of Dec. 13, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill. 

Schumer's plan is to bring the bill, known as Build Back Better, to the Senate floor once Democrats finish their conversations with the parliamentarian, who provides guidance on what can be included in a bill passed through budget reconciliation.

"As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the Senate parliamentarian has been completed ... the Senate will take up this legislation," Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday. 

"Once that's complete, we're ready to move Build Back Better to the floor," Schumer added about the talks with the parliamentarian. 

The source said Schumer was privately telling people the bill could be brought to the floor as soon as the week of Dec. 13 under the presumption that talks with the parliamentarian eat up this week and next week. 

Schumer publicly mirrored that timeline, which was first reported by Politico, during a floor speech on Monday, saying that talks with the referee had taken place over the Thanksgiving break and "will continue this week and next week as needed."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One that White House officials are "encouraged" by Schumer's plan to bring the bill to the floor the week of Dec. 13.

"We expect to see action before Christmas. That's a positive sign in our view. And so we will just continue to work in lockstep with his office and with the [Senate] Budget Committee to continue moving this forward to be prepared to go to the floor that week," Psaki said.

Schumer is working to move the massive bill as Congress faces a packed year-end schedule. Congress has until the end of Friday to pass a government funding bill and avoid a shutdown, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that lawmakers have until Dec. 15 to raise the nation's debt limit.  

Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are in talks about the debt ceiling. Schumer told reporters that they were having "good negotiations" on the debt ceiling, while McConnell told reporters that they were "having useful discussions about a way forward."  

To start debate on the Build Back Better legislation, Schumer would also need total unity from his caucus, something he doesn't have yet.  

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have not said if they support the spending bill. Manchin has also declined to say if he would vote to start debate - something that Democrats won't be able to do without Manchin's support.  

Both sides are aware that Manchin is a key vote, with the Democrat senator meeting with both Schumer and McConnell on Tuesday. 

Manchin's discussion with Schumer focused on climate and energy issues, where Manchin has outlined areas of concern.  

"We've had a good meeting with Sen. Manchin today ... and we're going to get this bill done with 50 Democrats before Christmas. That's our goal," Schumer said. 

Republicans also noted during their press conference that it would take only one Democrat to sink the bill, a backhanded reference to Manchin. 

"I think we all know the situation we're in. ... We all know that it would only take one Democrat to tank it," McConnell said. 

Asked about his meeting with Manchin, McConnell added to reporters, "Sen. Manchin loves to talk to everybody. He talks to you. He talks to us." 

"We had a great discussion. I enjoy Joe's company," McConnell added. "I admire Sen. Manchin. I think he's in a really challenging position. ... I pull for him every day, pray for him every night."

Morgan Chalfant contributed. 

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