By reviving Biden’s big bill, Democrats look to regain momentum
Washington To regain momentum, Democratic leaders are pressing ahead with President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy bill, with the House expected to vote later this week and the Senate vowing to follow up by Christmas in hopes of bolstering the party’s standing and delivering on a major campaign promise.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday set a likely schedule for a vote on Biden’s $1.85 trillion social services and climate change package, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said his House will vote next.
The president himself, speaking on the road in New Hampshire, expected swift action after weeks of delays and low polling numbers.
Biden said at an event in Woodstock promoting related infrastructure the bill that has just been signed into law.
Stripped of partisan rifts, Democrats appear ready to jump into action, buoyed by the apparent popularity of a smaller bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package, as well as the flashing warning signs of a potentially bleak election year.
House Democrats gathered privately at campaign headquarters on Tuesday and emerged determined to hold as many as 1,000 public events by the end of the year, joining the White House in taking their agenda on the road to showing voters what they hope to achieve by bypassing the larger Biden. Package of health care, child care and climate change programmes.
Democratic leaders downplayed the partisan differences between progressive and centrist lawmakers that extended to the start and stall of progress on the bill’s shape. Focus is now on the 2,135-page package, with final assessments from the Congressional Budget Office expected later this week, setting the stage for a House vote.
“The process can be chaotic,” said Representative Hakim Jeffreys, chair of the Democratic Caucus, Hakim Jeffries. “But the result of passing the Building Back Better Act would be hugely transformative for the American people.”
Finishing work on Biden’s big deal will be a tough job in Congress. Disagreements remain strong in the Senate, where one of the main conservative Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, remains his party’s main obstacle – almost single-handedly preventing the president from fulfilling his key campaign promise.
Even if the House is able to vote later this week, the schedule is crowded. The House and Senate stare at the backlog of legislation to be passed at the end of the year, including measures to fund the government and allow continued borrowing to pay its bills.
But Schumer insisted Tuesday that once the House of Representatives approves Biden’s bill, which is expected before lawmakers leave for Thanksgiving recess, the Senate will get it done in December.
“Building Better is very important to America, and we think it’s very popular among Americans, and we’re aiming to get it passed before Christmas,” Schumer said.
Lawmakers seem eager to reshape the debate, hitting the road to convince voters of what Biden’s package means to Americans in communities across the country — from savings in childcare and health care to the new jobs that could come from climate change and other infrastructure investments.
Election losses in Virginia earlier this month, along with a close party call in New Jersey, underlined what is shaping up to be a poor outlook ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when the Democrats’ narrow control of the House and Senate is in jeopardy. .
Republicans refuse to support Biden’s larger bill, leaving Democrats to pass it themselves with only a few votes in the House, and none in the 50-50 evenly divided Senate.
On Tuesday, Republican leaders warned that unleashing more federal government spending would exacerbate inflation, which is hurting American households with higher prices for some goods as consumers spend freely and demand grows.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Biden’s bill “will only make inflation worse, it will make it worse.”
But for Democrats, doing nothing seems to be a worse political choice. They believe that increased government support for child care, health care and home health services will help American families adjust to the economy that has transformed during the COVID-19 crisis.
The odds of passing Biden’s bill in the House of Representatives were close before, only to dissipate amid bipartisan infighting as progressives pushed for action, but conservative Democrats pressed the brakes. The controversy tied the bill to a smaller infrastructure scale, but now that Biden has signed that bill into law, the focus is back on the larger bill.
Key House centrists have been waiting for financial analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, which has been distributing a nonpartisan assessment to each department of the legislation’s projected costs and potential impact on the deficit. The Central Bank of Oman said it expects to deliver its final reports by the end of the week.
Hoyer said the House could vote as soon as Thursday, although it could turn into Friday or Saturday.
“I think if we get the information as expected, I don’t see why we can’t move forward this week,” said Representative Josh Gotheimer, DNJ, leader of the centrist grouping of lawmakers.
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.
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