Two Democrats stated Saturday that Democratic leaders hoped for House votes on Tuesday regarding the two pillars of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. This was as the party continued its push to get the long-delayed legislation through Congress.
However, it was not clear if the ambitious timeline could be achieved.
The Democrats stated that top Democrats want a final House-Senate agreement on Biden’s $1.75 trillion 10-year social/environment plan by Sunday.
The White House, Senate and House officials held talks over the weekend, according to the Democrats. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. On Thursday, the White House presented an outline of the $1.75 billion measure that received positive reviews from many rank and file lawmakers. However, final details are still being worked out.
The Democrats suggested that an agreement could allow Congress to approve the bill and a $1 trillion separate measure for funding roads, rail, and other infrastructure projects.
A Senate agreement between the two chambers would only be possible if it was supported by Democratic Senators. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silenza of Arizona. House progressives are at odds with two centrists over party spending and tax priorities. They would need to be convinced that they can trust them to support an agreement.
Manchin and Sinema made Biden abandon his original plan for a $3.5 billion social and environmental plan, and forced him to scale back and remove some initiatives. To pass the legislation, Democrats will need to have unanimous support from the 50-50 Senate. All Republicans oppose it. Democrats can lose only three Democratic votes in Congress.
Some Democrats still want to include provisions that require paid family leave. This would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, helping to keep prescription drug costs down and allowing millions of immigrants to remain in the U.S.
The Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, which enforces the chamber’s strict rules and may decide that certain provisions in the bill on social and environmental issues violate procedural requirements and should be removed. Elizabeth MacDonough has already ruled against two previous Democratic proposals that assist immigrants.
After months of disagreements between moderates and progressives over the Social and Environment Bill, party leaders had put pressure on lawmakers to end their differences to increase Biden’s influence before he left Thursday to attend economic and climate talks in Europe.
In a Capitol meeting on Thursday morning, Biden asked House Democrats to support both bills. But their divisions remained so Congress left town until next Wednesday. Biden will be traveling to Europe next week so any quick deals in Congress could still give him an extra boost.
Tuesday’s Democratic-leaning Virginia gubernatorial race is also in the future. According to polls, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican candidate, might defeat Terry McAuliffe (a former governor), but it is not clear how this might impact support for the Social and Environment Package in Congress.
After passing the House, the Senate would have to approve the $1.75 trillion measure.
Its programs include money for free preschool, tax credit to encourage movement towards cleaner fuels, electrified vehicles and subsidies for child care, health coverage, and more funding for housing, at-home care, and elderly care. It would cost most of its expenses to be paid by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and increasing the IRS budget for tax scofflaws with higher incomes.
In August, the Senate approved the infrastructure bill on a bipartisan vote. In an attempt to ensure moderate support for the larger social-environment bill, progressives in the House have pushed back against that bill.