President Joe Biden’s program has received a boost with Senate Democratic leaders outlining plans for more than $ 4 trillion in national programs, but enactment depends on details of negotiations over Medicare, taxes , immigration and the infrastructure that confused Congress for a generation.
The Senate is moving forward with a two-pronged approach to implement Biden’s agenda, a $ 3.5 trillion tax and social spending plan backed only by Democrats, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill from $ 579 billion.
Democrats on Wednesday celebrated agreement on the outline of a 10-year budget proposal that bridges, at least on the surface, the gap between a $ 6 trillion proposal by Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, a progressive who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, and moderates, including Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who insisted on a more modest plan that would not inflate the national debt.
But Biden and party leaders will still have to compromise to rally their 50 Senate caucus members and keep their House contingent united.
“Now we know it will be a long road and there will be obstacles along the way,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday. “This is only the first step in the long road that we will have to travel and that we must travel.”
Sanders said his staff are now working to rally support for a budget resolution in the coming weeks that would give committees a budget target for various pieces of potential legislation. Agreement on a House and Senate budget resolution will result in a vote on a subsequent bill that can be passed by the Senate without Republican support, but the process will likely take months.
“What happens next is that this is an extremely large and complicated bill and it is going to take a lot of work. among 50 people to come to an agreement, âSanders told reporters.
Read more: Democrats propose tax on carbon-intensive imports in budget
Senators met Biden at lunch on Wednesday and then associated their speech on party unity with promoting their own priorities. An outline of the deal mentioned sweeping changes in health, climate, taxation, nutrition, education, childcare and work policies, but lacked specifics.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, told reporters he still needed information on proposed tax increases to fully pay for the plan. Manchin, from a coal-producing state, also said he told Schumer he had a problem with some fossil fuel provisions in the plan.
âI told him I was concerned about some of the languages ââI have seen moving away from the fossils,â Manchin said. “I said, you are taking our country away from fossils and there will not be another country that will stand up and do the research and development that will correct the emissions from fossils now.”
But Manchin applauded progressives when he said he was “okay” with including immigration reform in the package and Noted he had long supported the failure of the comprehensive immigration legislation of 2013.
Senator Alex Padilla of California said he wanted to make sure the deal included language as “broad as possible” providing legal status to undocumented migrants – a Democratic priority that has not been met for decades. .
Other senators have pointed to portfolio issues that Democrats say will help middle-income Americans.
âI heard a lot of enthusiasm tempered by the fact that we have to get the right details and people have to Feel that at home in their pockets, âsaid Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, noting the extension of Medicare benefits for dental, vision and hearing.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders must determine whether the broad outlines of the deal are acceptable in the House, where Democrats can likely only afford three defections.
President Nancy Pelosi called the agreement in principle âstrongâ and âa victoryâ without explicitly endorsing it. Congressional Progressive Caucus representative Pramila Jayapal, who called for a bill between $ 6 trillion and $ 10 trillion, told reporters she saw it as a “down payment.”
Progressives will be at the heart of the House vote, and Jayapal said she had not given up on trying to add to the proposal after Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning that he hoped his House allies could do better than him to advance their agenda.
âWe talked about a one-time investment in a generation. It would have been the case if we reached the higher number that we were advocating, âshe said. âI think this will be a big down payment on a real investment in our people, but it’s not the end. There is still work to be done. “
Bill on infrastructure
The bipartisan group of senators working separately on the infrastructure bill want to complete negotiations on Thursday. How to pay for the $ 579 billion plan is one of the final sticking points.
The White House has been deeply involved in these talks, which are led by Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Ohio Republican Rob Portman.
âI think we’re in good shape,â Biden told reporters at the White House. âThere may be slight adjustments to the pay-for-fors. It will depend on what Congress wants to do. I explained how I think you would pay for it. Remember we have an agreement.
Talks on infrastructure were recently complicated when Pelosi said she would not allow the House to vote on it until the larger tax and spending bill was completed by the Senate. . Some Republican supporters of the bipartisan plan, like Susan Collins of Maine, ignored the $ 3.5 trillion budget effort while others, like North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, said Pelosi connecting the two could be a compromise. .
But for now, no piece of legislation can move forward without the other because Manchin and Sinema have made bipartisan achievement the price of their cooperation on a possible second bill, and the Liberals do not want to move forward on it. bipartite agreement without assurances on the Democratic package only.
âI think that’s the only way to do it,â Biden said.
– With help from Jarrell Dillard, Billy House and Jordan Fabian