Biden’s agenda was in peril of getting torpedoed by internal Democratic divisions, as moderates expressed outrage on Wednesday at the prospect of postponing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill ahead of a crucial vote to avert a government shutdown.
The White House indicated negotiations over twin bills to rejuvenate the nation’s roads and airports and fund social programs and climate change initiatives were at a “dicey” point due to discord between moderates and progressives over the scope of the nearly $4 trillion in spending.
Congress, which Democrats hold by a razor-thin mandate, is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bipartisan resolution sustaining federal operations into early December before funding expires at midnight.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has slated votes on the measure to begin Thursday morning, giving the House of Representatives plenty of headroom to act.
On Thursday, the House is also set to vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate with bipartisan backing. However, some party leaders have cautioned that the vote could be deferred again, antagonizing moderates.
Representative Stephanie Murphy, a moderate Democrat who supports the infrastructure bill, cautioned against the legislation’s defeat or delay.
“Should tomorrow’s vote fails or delay, there will be a serious breach of trust, slowing the momentum toward delivering the Biden agenda,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
The vote was far from assured, with progressives in the House threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill until an agreement is struck on a separate multibillion-dollar proposal centered on social spending and climate change.
“On Thursday, we will vote only if we have the numbers to pass the bill,” Representative Dan Kildee, the House Democrats’ senior deputy whip, told reporters.
White House-led Negotiation on Biden’s agenda
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer consulted the White House on Wednesday afternoon to meet with Biden, a former senator who skipped a trip to Chicago to lead congressional negotiations.
“We’re in a grave and pivotal period,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated on Wednesday.
A White House aide met with moderate Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema at the Capitol, who has expressed grave misgivings about the scope of Biden’s proposals and can veto them due to the Democrats’ slim Senate majority.
Suppose the Senate adopts the resolution funding the government. In that case, the House may soon vote to send it to Biden for signature, averting a partial government shutdown during a national health crisis. After Republican Donald Trump’s stormy four years in office, Biden’s Democrats campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility in government.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, showed optimism on Wednesday.
“Democrats oppose a government shutdown. Republicans oppose a government shutdown. This would achieve the outcome that we all desire, notably continuation of the government operation, ” he said during a press conference.
Senate Democrats have sought to pass legislation that would finance the government while also averting a possibly catastrophic federal government default by raising the country’s $28.4 trillion debt cap. Republicans, on the other hand, want Democrats to employ a parliamentary procedure to act alone on the debt limit matter.
Around Oct. 18, the government will hit the ceiling, triggering a historic default with long-lasting economic implications and financial market ramifications.
Schumer has pushed for bipartisan consensus on the subject, claiming that it resolves debts incurred by Democratic and Republican administrations.
On a largely partisan vote, the House backed a bill suspending the cap until December 2022 on Wednesday. It now moves to the Senate, where Republicans are expected to filibuster it again.
Goldman Sachs termed the deadlock as “the most troubling debt ceiling deadline in a decade” earlier this month.
The Bill On Reconciliation Is Central To Biden’s Agenda.
Various senior Democrats have stated that the $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” bill – so-called because it is being drafted under a budgetary mechanism to sidestep Senate rules needing 60 votes out of 100 members for passage – will need to be trimmed back to pass.
Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, predicted that reaching an agreement would take weeks.
“I cannot – and will not – endorse trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing posture that ignores the stark budgetary reality our country faces,” he declared late Wednesday afternoon in a long statement.
“There must be a better strategy, and I believe we can unlock it if we continue to negotiate in good faith.”
However, he did not state what he could endorse.
House Democrats pleaded with Manchin and Sinema to express their desires openly.
“They need to offer a counteroffer, and then we can sit down and negotiate,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said.