September 22, 2023

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a press conference for the Democratic Senate Caucus.

Michael Brochstein | SIPA USA | Sipa over AP pictures

After months of wrangling, the Senate has just passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill worth $ 1 trillion and a budget resolution demanding $ 3.5 trillion more in spending.

The road ahead is not going to get any smoother for the Democrats trying to lead President Joe Biden’s huge economic plans through Congress.

“What we’re doing here isn’t easy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., early Wednesday. “The Democrats have worked for months to get to this point and a lot of effort is still being made. 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 of Representatives must pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill to be sent to Biden for signature.

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The Democrats’ separate plan to expand the social safety net and promote clean energy requires further steps. The House must also pass a budget resolution. Then it will take the congressional committees weeks to draft a bill that both houses of Congress can pass in the reconciliation process that would only require the votes of the 50 members of the Senate Democratic faction.

With legislation on this scale, the process will likely take months – and could be derailed multiple times along the way.

At the outset, Pelosi said she would not adopt the bipartisan infrastructure bill or the Democrats’ final spending package until the Senate passes both of them. A spokeswoman for the speaker said Wednesday that her strategy had not changed after the Senate approved the infrastructure plan and budget decision.

Pelosi has been pressured by some Democrats, including those in the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, to vote separately to pass the infrastructure plan. She has tied the two packages together to keep her entire faction on board as the centrists become suspicious of additional spending and the progressives say the bipartisan plan is inadequate.

Subject to a change in strategy, the House of Representatives will not be able to vote on the final passage of either of the two bills until well into the autumn. The chamber will take its next concrete step in the week of August 23, when majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Plans to vote on the budget decision.

Democratic lawmakers will then turn to drafting their spending accounts, which will include a Medicare expansion, an extension of the increased household tax credits, and a universal Pre-K, among other things. On September 15, Schumer set the Senate committees the goal of completing their parts of the Reconciliation Act.

The bill could be delayed in the Senate, where any Democrat can sink it. Middle Democrats, including West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, voted for the budget decision but have signaled they will not sign off on $ 3.5 trillion spending.

“Given the current state of economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels better suited to responding to a Great Depression or a Great Recession – not an economy poised to overheat,” said Manchin in a statement on Wednesday.

Democratic leaders must work out a plan that will convince not only Manchin but also the party’s liberal wing, which could pass a bill in the House or Senate. Progressives have said the Law of Reconciliation must do more to combat climate change and strengthen budgets than the bipartisan compromise did.

If the Democrats cut too much of the $ 3.5 trillion package to appease the centrists, they risk losing support from the other end of the party.

While dealing with intra-party disagreements, the Democrats must also fend off a spate of GOP attacks on the reconciliation package. On Tuesday, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said “This reckless taxation and shopping spree is like nothing we’ve seen.”

Republicans want to make voting as difficult as possible for Democrats as they try to regain control of Congress midway through next year. Democrats, meanwhile, want to be able to track the campaign by saying they helped put more money in the pockets of working families.

Schumer admitted Wednesday that congressional enforcement of his party’s priorities will be a drudgery.

“We have no illusions. Maybe the hardest work is yet to come,” he told reporters.

Schumer later added, “I think we’ll get the job done.”

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