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Politics Democrats squabble, scramble to meet self-imposed deadline. Why this week is vital for Biden.

10:25  26 october  2021
10:25  26 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Democrats are scrambling to reach a deal on their massive reconciliation bill this week so that progressives will stop their blockade of the infrastructure bill that's stalled in the House before President Biden leaves the U.S. for a climate summit. But with still no agreement there's no chance a reconciliation bill could pass – or even be written – before Biden departs Thursday. So Khanna appeared to scale back progressives' demands for how nailed down the reconciliation bill needs to be for an infrastructure vote this week .

Biden ’s economic plan is at risk of delays as Democrats squabble . House committees on Wednesday wrapped up work on significant portions of the package, including .1 trillion in tax increases to help pay for the biggest expansion of social welfare programs in decades. That technically meets the Democrats ’ self - imposed deadline , but the action belies the obstacles still ahead that threaten to diminish Biden ’s ambitious proposals and put off votes on them in the House and Senate.

WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to make a Sunday deadline to complete two big parts of President Joe Biden's economic agenda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earlier this month, set a new deadline of Oct. 31 for the House to pass a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and achieve consensus on a bigger budget bill that includes a number of liberal policies like subsidizing child care and fighting climate change.   .

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 20: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leaves the U.S. Capitol Building after a Senate vote on October 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers continue to negotiate a components of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775727134 ORIG FILE ID: 1347767885 © Anna Moneymaker, Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 20: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leaves the U.S. Capitol Building after a Senate vote on October 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers continue to negotiate a components of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775727134 ORIG FILE ID: 1347767885

The progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party have for months struggled to come to an agreement on how to move forward with the measures, which if passed, would mark a major victory for Biden ahead of a crucial Virginia governor's race next week and the 2022 midterm elections.

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Biden ’s Democrats campaigned on a platform of responsible government after Republican Donald Trump’s turbulent four years in office. Republican Senator John Cornyn expressed optimism on Wednesday. The government will hit the ceiling around Oct. 18, an event that could cause a historic default with long-lasting economic fallout and implications for financial markets. Investment bank Goldman Sachs this month described the standoff as “the riskiest debt-limit deadline in a decade.” DIVISIONS.

Biden was pushing his infrastructure bill along with his budget package of social spending plans as the clock is ticking toward his self - imposed deadline of completing the deals before he leaves Thursday for the G20 in Rome. In pushing his infrastructure plan, Biden repeated for the sixth time a story about an encounter with an Amtrak conductor - even though the man in question, Angelo Negri, was already dead at the time Pelosi insisted that Democrats had pieced together other policies in the spending bill that could reduce emissions. 'We will have something that will meet the president's goals,' she said.

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More: Biden looks to scale back social spending bill to $2.2 trillion or less as he pushes Democrats to cut deal

OnPolitics: Democrats are getting closer to a social spending bill

Biden met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., in Delaware over the weekend to finalize agreements on the package. Manchin, a moderate from a Republican-leaning state, has demanded the size of the bill be reduced. The White House called the meeting a "productive discussion."

Biden told reporters he wants a deal by the time he leaves the country for Europe on Thursday, saying it would be "very positive to get it done" before his trip.

Now, with the self-imposed deadline just days away, Democrats in both chambers are again rushing to pull both sides of the party together to pass the sweeping agenda.

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Democrats are scrambling to reach an agreement on their massive reconciliation bill this week so progressives can halt their blockade of the infrastructure bill that has stalled House Before President Biden leaves the US for the climate summit. Biden will leave for Rome, Italy on Joe Manchin, D.W.V.A., visited Biden at his Wilmington, Delaware, home for further talks on the reconciliation bill. Susan Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, one of the White House aides most involved in the talks, was also seen in Wilmington. The Associated Press reported that Manchin could support the

That technically meets the Democrats ’ self - imposed deadline , but the action belies the obstacles still ahead that threaten to diminish Biden ’s ambitious proposals and put off votes on them in the House and Senate. “Some folks have issues on climate change, some people have issues on tax and some people have issues on health care,” said Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat , adding that he thinks Democrats ultimately will agree on a package. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said that the Senate would likely take whatever passes the House

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Here's what we know about the negotiations:

What do Democrats want done by Halloween?

Biden and Democrats want to reach an agreement on framework for the reconciliation package, and for the House to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, so Biden can sign that into law by the time the 30-day reauthorization of the federal highway programs expires on Oct. 31

On CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Pelosi said "that's the plan" when asked about finalizing the agreement on the budget bill and also voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Pelosi was prepared to have the House vote last month on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, which funds roadways, bridges, public transportation and expanded broadband internet, after it passed the Senate 69-30 in August. But progressives in her caucus forced her to delay that vote, arguing they should not vote on the infrastructure deal without passage of the separate budget bill.

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Joe Manchin, who for months has called for a pause in talks over President Joe Biden 's social safety net package, on Monday offered his most optimistic assessment yet that a deal could be reached imminently -- as soon as this week . The effort to win over Manchin and reach a framework deal this week comes as top Democrats are hoping to pass a separate .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill out of the House as soon as Wednesday. Progressives have demanded a deal on the larger proposal before agreeing to vote on the infrastructure bill, leaving the fate of the two Biden priorities intertwined.

Democrats missed a self - imposed deadline this week to vote on a trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. That bill - it's being held up over internal differences on another and much larger spending plan that's championed by the party. Leaders say they're working to try to smooth those differences, but if they fall short, they could derail the majority of the president's domestic And that was always the original deal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that these bills would move in tandem when they're both ready. SIMON: And, of course, there's another deadline that Congress is facing. And it is vital , isn't it?

A month later, there is still no agreement on the budget bill, meaning the infrastructure bill is also being held up.

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Two Democratic senators, Manchin and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, have said the original $3.5 trillion price tag of the budget proposal was too high and have pushed for the size of the bill to come down.

Negotiations between the White House, progressives, and Manchin and Sinema have been happening for weeks as all sides try to find consensus on a slew of issues and how they are going to scale the package back.

More: Why is there so much drama over the infrastructure vote in the House?

How big does Biden, Manchin want the budget bill to be?

Biden's original budget included $3.5 trillion for progressive priorities like free community college and expanded Medicare.

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Last week, Biden said during a CNN town hall that the scaled-down budget package would land around $2 trillion. Manchin has publicly maintained he doesn't want to go over $1.5 trillion.

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Rep. Pramilla Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said last week after a meeting with the White House that  Biden wants to stick to a number between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

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But on Monday, Biden touted $1.75 trillion as a possible number for the bill. CNN reported Manchin told leaders he could be open to that amount during negotiations.

"By the way, you hear these numbers, $3.5 trillion or $1.75 trillion? We pay for it all. It doesn't increase the deficit one single cent," Biden said.

How might the bill be trimmed?

Sinema and Manchin have not only taken issue with the price, but have also targeted other aspects of the bill, including some of the climate initiatives and tax increases within the legislation.

"She will not raise a single penny on the corporate side or on wealthy people. Period," Biden said of Sinema during the town hall, referring to his plan to raise taxes on corporations and high-income earners to pay for his proposed spending.

Biden said Sinema told him she was opposed to raising the corporate tax rate above 21%, the level locked in with former President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) leaves the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. With a federal government shutdown looming, Congressional Democrats are working to find common ground between their progressive and moderate members so to try and pass a handful of legislation, including bills on infrastructure, the White House's Build Back Better Act and the debt limit. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717297 ORIG FILE ID: 1235585394 © Drew Angerer, Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) leaves the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. With a federal government shutdown looming, Congressional Democrats are working to find common ground between their progressive and moderate members so to try and pass a handful of legislation, including bills on infrastructure, the White House's Build Back Better Act and the debt limit. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717297 ORIG FILE ID: 1235585394

Biden also called it a "reach" to secure funding for Medicare expansion to cover hearing, dental and vision benefits – a top priority of many liberals. "Here's the thing: Mr. Manchin is opposed to that. And I think Mrs. Sinema is as well."

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a progressive involved in negotiations, tweeted Saturday that the expansion of those benefits “is one of the most popular and important provisions" in the bill.

“It’s what the American people want. It’s not coming out,” he added.

But Manchin told reporters Monday that he is worried that expanding Medicare is not “fiscally responsible” since it may potentially be insolvent by 2026.

Biden also said during the town hall that tuition-free community college, which carries a cost of $109 billion, would likely be cut out of the bill. He said his $225 billion plan to provide three months of paid family and medical leave would be cut down to four weeks from the 12 weeks proposed.

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Several climate initiatives may also be in danger.

Manchin opposes efforts to quickly phase out fossil fuels and has already come out against a part of the bill that would reward utilities that speed up their transition to clean energy – and penalize them if they don't.

What's next?

The negotiations are ongoing and the details are being finalized. But leaders over the weekend emphasized they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have 90% of the bill agreed to and written, we just have some of the last decisions to be made,” Pelosi said Sunday.

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She said a vote on the budget package may not happen before Biden leaves for Europe, or before their Oct. 31 deadline, but next steps may be for Democrats to finalize an "agreement" on the reconciliation framework.

If an agreement is reached, and approved by caucuses in both chambers, they may then have a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House this week. The bipartisan legislation would then go to Biden for his signature.

President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore, with moderator Anderson Cooper. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ORG XMIT: MDEV319 © Evan Vucci, AP President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore, with moderator Anderson Cooper. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ORG XMIT: MDEV319

Pelosi stressed Congress needs to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal when the 30-day reauthorization of federal highway programs expires at the end of the month, saying "We have to get billions of dollars someplace to continue that."

If they aren't able to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Congress would need to pass another extension of highway legislation while negotiations continue.

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Manchin on Monday told reporters that a deal on a framework could be completed this week, while Schumer said "there are 3-4 outstanding issues."

"We first have to get some kind of agreement on those and then move forward from there," he continued. "A lot of the bill is written, as you know.”

Progressives insisted last month that a vote on the budget bill happen before the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. However, progressive Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said on Fox News Sunday  "if the president gives his words and has a clear commitment, that will be good enough."

"My view is that the President's word saying, 'I have the commitment of 50 senators and those 50 senators are going to vote for this bill, and here are the details,' that that's good enough."

Contributing: Joey Garrison, Ledge King, Courtney Subramanian

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democrats squabble, scramble to meet self-imposed deadline. Why this week is vital for Biden.

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