The panel confirms Dems’ 3.5 ton bill, crunch time for the Biden agenda

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Democrats tabled a $ 3.5 trillion 10-year bill to the House Budgets Committee on Saturday that strengthens the social safety net and climate programs that will have to get the rambling package through Congress .

The panel dominated by the Democrats, which met virtually, approved the measure with a vote near the party line 20:17. Passage marked a necessary but minor review of a procedural box for the Democrats by taking it one step closer to the debate throughout the House. Under the budget rules, the committee was not allowed to materially change the 2,465-page measure that was the product of 13 other House committees.

More important work was done in an opaque procession of mostly unannounced phone calls, meetings and other negotiating sessions between party leaders and ordinary legislators. President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., have looked behind the scenes to find compromises to resolve internal divisions, and hope that the Approval of the mammoth bill soon.

Pelosi told his Democrats on Saturday that they will have to pass the social and environmental package this week, along with a separate infrastructure bill and a third measure that will prevent the government from closing on Friday. Her letter to colleagues underscored the amount of crucial work facing the Democratic majority in Congress in the coming days and appeared to be an attempt to increase urgency in order to quickly resolve longstanding disputes.

“The next few days will be a time of intensity,” she wrote.

Moderate MP Scott Peters, D-California, joined all 16 Republicans on the Budget Committee to oppose the legislation. His objection included one that worries many Democrats: reluctance to endorse a bill containing provisions that would later be dropped by the Senate.

Many Democrats don’t want to become politically vulnerable by supporting a language that could be controversial at home only to see it doesn’t become law. That preference of only voting on a social and environmental bill that is already a compromise between the House and Senate could complicate Pelosi’s efforts to get a House vote this week.

Peters was one of three Democrats who voted earlier this month against a most favored plan in his party to reduce drug costs by letting Medicare negotiate prescription drugs.

The party leaders have been trying for weeks to resolve differences between the Democrats over the final price of the package, which is certain to shrink. There is also controversy over which initiatives should be redesigned, including expanded Medicare, child tax breaks and health care, a push toward cleaner energy, and higher taxes for the rich and corporations.

The wafer-thin majorities of the Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate make a compromise imperative. Before the move, which the Budget Panel approved on Saturday, even reaches the House, it is expected to be amended to reflect the House-Senate agreements reached and additional revisions are likely.

The overall design embodies the core of Biden’s most important national goals. Budgets Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., Cited “decades of divestments” on needs such as health care, education, childcare and the environment as the rationale for the legislation.

“The future of millions of Americans and their families is at stake. We can no longer afford the cost of neglect and inaction. It is now time to act, ”said Yarmuth.

Republicans say the proposal is unnecessary and unaffordable given the accumulated federal debt of more than $ 28 trillion, and reflects Democrats’ desire to include the government in people’s lives. The tax hikes will cost jobs and include loans to buy electric vehicles, often made by people with comfortable incomes, they said.

“This bill is a disaster for working class families,” said Jason Smith Rep. From Missouri, the committee’s chief Republican. “It’s a great giveaway for the rich, it’s a laundry list of agenda items pulled straight from Bernie Sanders’ socialist playbook.”

The unusual weekend session came as top Democrats stepped up efforts to end the increasingly bitter disputes between the party’s centrist and progressive wings that threaten to undermine Biden’s agenda.

Biden admitted on Friday that the talks between the Democrats were in a “state“, although Pelosi and Schumer were apparently more positive about building momentum and calming differences. A collapse of the measure by one’s own party would be a hurtful preview of the coming election year, when it comes to controlling the House of Representatives and the Senate.

To hold on to moderates’ support for an earlier draft budget, Pelosi pledged to begin discussing another pillar of Biden’s domestic plans by Monday: a $ 1 trillion collection of road and other infrastructure projects. Pelosi reiterated this week that the infrastructure debate will begin on Monday.

But many moderates who see infrastructure bills as their primary goal also want to cut the $ 3.5 trillion social and environmental package and cut or redesign some programs. These include Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

In response, progressives – their number one priority is the $ 3.5 trillion measure – are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill if it comes to the vote first. Your opposition seems likely enough to sink it, and Pelosi has not definitely said when a vote will take place on the final approval of the infrastructure measure.

As each part of the party threatens to reverse the other’s most cherished goal – a political disaster for the Democrats – top Democrats are seizing the moment to accelerate talks on massive social and climate legislation. The party must not lose any votes in the Senate and a maximum of three votes in the House of Representatives in order to be successful in the narrowly divided Congress.

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