$3.5T Biden bill Imperiled? Vote delayed Amidst Democrats’ Wrangle

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$3.5T Biden bill

$3.5T Biden bill hangs on a thread. Despite a protracted night of intense negotiations, Democrats failed to reach a timely deal late Thursday to revive President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion government overhaul, prompting leaders to cancel scheduled votes on a related public works bill. Friday’s set for action.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi convened an evening session of the House. Senior White House officials converged in the Capitol for negotiations as Democratic leaders sought to negotiate a scaled-back plan acceptable to centrist holdouts.

Biden finished his schedule call sessions with lawmakers, but it emerged as though no agreement was imminent, particularly with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin refused to yield, clinging to his earlier argument that he was willing to meet the president less than halfway – $1.5 trillion.

“I don’t anticipate there will be a deal tonight. I truly do not,” Manchin stated as he exited the Capitol.

Deeply divided, the president and his party risk an ugly defeat — if not the complete collapse of the political enterprise — if they cannot overcome their differences over Biden’s grand vision.

A promised vote on the first piece of Biden’s proposal, a modest $1 trillion public works bill generally supported but lingered amid stalled negotiations on his more ambitious package, was at immediate risk.

Progressives have declined to back the roads-and-bridges bill, which they regard as inadequate unless Biden’s broader proposal, which is at the center of the Democratic agenda, gained progress. With support, leaders postponed a scheduled Thursday night vote and announced that the House would reconvene on Friday.

In a message to colleagues, Pelosi referred to it as a “day of progress” but offered few other details about the way forward.

Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, released a statement saying, “A deal of progress has been made this week, and we are now closer to an agreement than we have ever been.” However, we are not yet there and hence will require more time to complete the work, which will commence first thing tomorrow morning.”

The stakes could hardly be much greater politically. With a razor-thin majority in Congress, Biden and his party are pushing for massive legislative success — promising a wholesale overhaul of the nation’s tax and spending policies.

The president’s comprehensive proposal, which is estimated to cost $3.5 trillion, would essentially boost taxes on corporations and the affluent and reinvest the proceeds in government health care, education, and other programs that affect the lives of many Americans. He asserts that the eventual spending will be zero, as tax revenue will cover all costs.

$3.5T Biden bill
$3.5T Biden bill

Liberal-Moderate factions threaten the $3.5T Biden bill.

With Biden on the phone and senior White House officials shuttling at the Capitol, reports circulated of Democratic leaders working to break the stalemate by reaching a bigger deal with Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, two centrist Democrats who are critical to Biden’s agenda.

The bill was to develop the outlines of a deal on Biden’s broader package, move through with the $1 trillion public works bill, then negotiate the remainder of Biden’s massive health care, education, and climate change plan in the days ahead. Lawmakers of Congress have been urged to remain available for late-night votes.

However, as the night wore on, it became evident that Manchin was not on board with a higher figure, and carving back at the $3.5 trillion toplines risked alienating progressive leaders who asserted that they have already made enough concessions and saw no reason to rush a deal to win over centrists to the president’s agenda.

“As you are all aware, we have been working for transformative legislation for months and months,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the Budget Committee chair and a critical progressive legislator. “This is not a baseball game,” he stated emphatically. This makes for  the most significant piece of legislation in the last seven decades.”

All of these came on a day when Democrats won a partial breakthrough, with Congress passing & Biden signing legislation to keep the government operating beyond Thursday’s fiscal year-end deadline, averting a federal shutdown threatened by Republican obstacles.

$3.5T Biden bill
$3.5T Biden bill

The public works bill is another piece of Biden’s broader vision, which includes a $1 trillion investment in basic transportation, broadband, water infrastructure, and other initiatives that will be enhanced with more funds. It had bipartisan support in the Senate but has since been caught up in the broader discourse.

The spotlight remains firmly on Manchin and Sinema, two centrist Democrats who aided in approving that bipartisan bill but are concerned that Biden’s overall bill is too hefty. By not making any counter-proposals public, the two senators have upset colleagues.

Under fire, Manchin convened an unexpected press conference outside the Capitol on Thursday, saying that he has been forthcoming from the outset.

“I’m willing to sit down and work on the $1.5,” Manchin told reporters as demonstrators yelled behind him, demanding a more extensive package and an understanding of Biden’s priorities.

Manchin stated that he conveyed this message to the president at their meeting this week and verified that he had already expressed his views to Schumer during earlier summer discussions.

Not only Manchin’s demands to limit the overall size of the budget, but also the conditions he wants to be imposed on new spending will enrage his more liberal colleagues, as he attempts to guarantee that help is directed exclusively to low-income Americans rather than broader sections of Americans. Tensions reached a zenith late Wednesday when Manchin issued a blistering statement condemning the sweeping spending as “fiscal insanity.”

Sinema was also attempting to deflect criticism. Her office stated that charges she has not been forthright are “false” — although she has not publicly stated her views about package size and has failed to address inquiries about her position.

The Republican Party mocks the $3.5T Biden bill as “Socialist Spending.”

Sinema has put dollar numbers on the table and “continues to engage directly in good faith discussions” with Biden and Schumer, according to spokesman John LaBombard.

With Democrats’ campaign promises on the line, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stated as she left Pelosi’s office that progressives’ views were still the same — they will not vote for one bill without voting for the other — and that they would stay all weekend to broker a deal.

“Inaction is insanity,” another progressive leader, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., stated emphatically in response to Manchin’s statements.

“Assaulting your party’s agenda is irrational. Not attempting to ensure that the president we all fought so hard to elect has a chance to carry out his agenda is insane.”

Centrists cautioned against canceling Thursday’s vote, describing it as a “breach of trust” that would “delay the momentum toward delivering the Biden program,” according to Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Florida, a leader of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats.

Meanwhile, Congress mostly resolved an immediate issue by adopting legislation to fund the government and avert a government shutdown, allowing operations to continue until Dec. 3. The bill passed the House quickly, and Biden signed it Thursday evening.

$3.5T Biden bill
$3.5T Biden bill

With Republicans united in opposition to the president’s big proposal, decrying the $3.5T Biden bill as a slide toward socialist-style spending, Biden is reaching to broker a deal with members of his party on a signature legislative achievement.

Biden maintains that the cost will be nil because the expansion of government programs will be financed primarily through increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy – enterprises earning more than $5 million per year and individuals earning more than $400,000 per year, or $450,000 for couples.

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