Democrats have an October 31 deadline to pass the bipartisan infrastructure and spending package bills. Yet, they might have to scrap the deadline because of an internal rift over the size and cost of the bills.
The Senate and House return to session this week; this means they will only have ten legislative days to settle their differences if they want to meet the deadline.
Democrats Need One Voice
One thing Democrats can’t afford to have at this moment is dissenting voices. They need to stand together to ensure they achieve their goal. White House officials and Democrat lawmakers anticipate this will help provide a much-needed legislative victory.
Aside from that, it will also help make a statement, as Republicans are aiming to win back Congress in 2022. The president especially needs the bill to give him a sense of satisfaction, despite his plummeting presidential poll numbers.
Besides, the internal fighting has affected the initial spending bill. The president originally planned a $3.5 trillion spending bill. However, it has been rewritten and lowered to $2 trillion.
In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also refused to commit to the October 31 deadline she set a few weeks ago. When quizzed about the bill, Pelosi said it would be brought to the floor when the party has the votes to bring the bill to the floor.
The Dissenting Senators
Two senators majorly against the bill are Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Their refusal to accept the bill has provoked a mirage of reactions among the Democrats.
Manchin announced publicly he would only vote for a bill with a maximum cost of $1.5 trillion. In a bid to win Manchin over, the president reduced the bill to $2 trillion. However, this is still higher than what Manchin said he’d agree to. Besides, progressives said they won’t agree to the bill if some key spending priorities are not preserved.
For Manchin to agree to the bill, the president will have to cut the bill further. By doing so, he’ll be taking out some key spending priorities in the process. In light of this, the Democrats are at crossroads.
In addition, far-left lawmakers started attacking both Sinema and Manchin publicly. By doing so, they exposed a serious issue in the party that the leaders tried to cover.
Ah yes, the Conservative Dem position: “You can either feed your kid, recover from your c-section, or have childcare so you can go to work – but not all three. All 3 makes you entitled and lazy.”
But fossil fuel $, keeping Rx prices high,& not taxing Wall St are “non-negotiable” https://t.co/PDDAFxgZRs
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 7, 2021
Elements in The Bill Causing The Rift
Senator Manchin wants fossil fuels included in the energy tax breaks in the bill. He also wants Democrats to set up a means-testing formula to ensure only those in serious need have access to new financial assistance and government programs.
Breaking News: The heart of President Biden's climate agenda — a push to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants — is said to likely be cut from the budget bill because Senator Joe Manchin opposes it. https://t.co/h73QT7NDpe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 15, 2021
Reps. Katie Porter of California and Mondaire Jones of New York disapproved of the means-testing. They said means-testing would most likely ensure the most vulnerable poor people don’t have what it takes to go through the process of proving their eligibility.
Some lawmakers do not also want tax breaks for fossil fuels. Manchin said the policy changes in the bill would end the use of fossil fuels. He said ending the use of fossil fuels is unrealistic and harmful for the economy.
Pelosi has been silent on how she intends to sort the rift in the party. Pelosi needs to remember time is ticking, and she’s running out of time if she wants the bill to meet the October 31 deadline she set.