WASHINGTON (AP) – It took half a year, but the Democrats pushed President Joe Biden’s $ 2 trillion package of social and climate initiatives through the house. It doesn’t get any easier in the Senate, where painful Republican amendments, restrictive rules and Joe Manchin lurk.
In the face of the GOP’s unbroken opposition, the Democrats finally reached an agreement among themselves and eased the compromise on November 19 in the House of Representatives. A Democrat voted no with just three votes in a chamber they controlled.
They are negotiating more changes for a final version that they hope will get approval by Christmas in the 50-50 Senate, where they need every Democratic vote. An in-house approval of the amended draft law would still be required.
The gauntlet they face:
LIGHT PAGE FOR DEMOCRATS
Yes, just a few weeks ago the bill was priced at $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years. It happened to the House of Representatives at around $ 2 trillion and is likely to keep falling in the Senate.
And yes, Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Have already forced their party to limit the size and ambition of the measure. After all, Manchin wants to cut even further.
But while enraging the progressives who wanted a more robust measure, none of the moderate senators have signaled a desire to break the party’s top legislative priority. Both have had months of conversations with party leaders, suggesting that everyone wants an agreement, even though one reflects their views.
Things can still implode in the Senate, where the debate won’t start until the week of December 6th at the earliest. But Democrats stand a good chance of pushing through their plans for spending hikes and tax cuts to make childcare, health insurance, education and housing more affordable, and the slowdown in global warming, largely funded by higher levies on the rich and big corporations.
Here’s a place where Republicans could cause real problems for Democrats.
After up to 20 hours of debate on the law, senators can table an unlimited number of amendments and force votes with little debate. The so-called Vote-a-rama can run through the night.
GOP goals will be twofold. You can force changes that weaken the bill by winning just one Democrat. And they can propose amendments that lose for next year’s midterm elections but win ammunition by putting Democrats on record against popular-sounding ideas.
The 2,100-page bill offers many goals.
Are you going to blame the Democrats for driving up gasoline and heating prices? Call on them to oppose a change that blocks new charges on petroleum and natural gas facilities that cause excessive emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas emitter.
A move by the GOP to end the measure’s higher tax deductions for state and local taxes could result in accusations against Democrats of protecting the rich, the main beneficiaries of those deductions. Past Republican tax cuts have been of outstanding benefit to high-end earners.
Changes could be designed to portray Democrats offering federal benefits to immigrants in the United States without legal authorization, few of whom are eligible for such assistance. Or Republicans might suggest giving parents more authority over school curricula, an issue that helped vote Republican Glenn Youngkin in this year’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign.
RULES OF THE SENATE, PÄSIG, BUT DANGEROUS
The Democrats are using a special procedure that allows them to pass the bill by a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 votes that would otherwise allow Republicans to kill the legislature.
But that comes at a price: His provisions must be driven primarily by budgetary considerations, not by sweeping policy changes. Opponents can ask the bipartisan MP of the Chamber, Elizabeth MacDonough, to decide whether a section violates this requirement, and if it does, it almost always falls off the bill.
The Democrats’ most vulnerable priority is likely to be immigration.
The House Bill would allow millions of immigrants in the US without permanent legal status to live and work in the US for up to 10 years since 2011. MacDonough recently said that two previous Democratic immigration proposals were against Senate rules.
Republicans could also challenge some regulations that allow the government to cut prescription drug prices.
THE MANCHIN FACTOR
Changes to the Senate bill seem inevitable, largely thanks to Manchin, one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress.
He has already helped force Biden to abandon his initial plans to set up a free community college, provide new Medicare benefits for dentistry and eyesight, and reward energy producers who fail to wean off high-carbon fuels. That was the pillar of Biden’s blueprint for combating climate change.
Manchin now appears poised to force the abolition of the four-week annual family and medical annual paid vacation leave. This $ 200 billion article is valued by progressives.
Manchin, whose state is a leading coal producer, disapproves of some remaining regulations designed to fuel the green energy transition. He has been questioned about offering some new benefits without imposing income limits. Coupled with his repeated comments on inflation, which some say the measure would make the spending increase even worse, the price appears to be going down.
THE SINEMA ENIGMA
Sinema helped reduce the cost of the package. It has prevented Democrats from raising tax rates on wealthy Americans and corporations, proposals that are considered by many to be potent sources of income and symbols of class justice. The Democrats found other ways to raise taxes on these groups.
But the Arizona woman rarely describes her demands publicly, making it difficult to read her goals for the future. She recently told Politico that she is opposed to tax hikes that can harm the economy but, unlike Manchin, believes the environmental provisions of the bill are “the most important part”.
OTHER CHANGES IN THE SENATE
The House of Representatives raised the current $ 10,000 annual limit on allowable state and local tax deductions to $ 80,000 and helped win votes from Democrats in tax-rich, mostly blue states.
But non-partisan external groups calculate that the change would largely benefit the richest Americans. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., have discussed denying tax breaks to the highest earners.
While the House of Representatives bill strengthens the government’s ability to drive down drug prices, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Has been talking about going further. The language of the house is a compromise more modest than many Democrats prefer.
The progressive Sanders, Manchin’s ideological counterpart, says he is still trying to “strengthen” the bill on climate change, Medicare, drug prices and taxing the rich.
With Democrats hoping to finally get the bill passed, Wyden and Sanders’ influence seems limited.