President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked strategy last week over the stalled multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure packages — as Sen. Joe Manchin, a crucial vote in getting the legislation passed in the Senate, raised new demands, according to reports.
Further complicating the matter as Congress returns to Washington on Monday is the Oct. 31 deadline Pelosi set for voting on the $1.5 trillion infrastructure measure and the $3.5 trillion social spending legislation that has yet to be written, according to Politico.
That deadline is running into the president’s overseas trip to Europe, where he’s expected to attend a climate summit in Scotland from Nov. 1 to 2, and the cutoff for renewing funding for the Highway Trust Fund.
Congressional Democrats are getting increasingly worried about the future of Biden’s legislative agenda and expressed fears that if negotiations continue to be drawn out into November the package may be doomed — a prospect that would seriously endanger Democrats’ ability to retain control of the House and Senate in next year’s midterms, CNN reported.
“You don’t want to get to a point where we look so indecisive that it can’t be repaired with the package that’s going to pass and start impacting people’s lives,” Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for an open Senate seat in Ohio next year, told CNN.
Other Democrats have groused privately that Biden, whose approval ratings are tanking, needs to show leadership.
”The reality right now is that a lot of people are saying, ‘Where’s Joe Biden? This is his agenda, why isn’t he more involved in the negotiations?’” a House Democrat, reflecting conversations going on among rank-and-file members.
Biden’s legislative agenda has been caught up in squabbling between progressive Democrats in the House and moderates in the Senate, like Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Progressives in the House want the Senate to pass a sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that funds a number of social safety net programs before they will vote on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal.
But Manchin and Sinema have expressed concerns about the price tag, with Manchin floating a $1.5 trillion topline on the reconciliation bill.
The Senate passed the bipartisan bill last month by a 69-30 vote.
Besides demanding that $150 billion in clean-energy initiatives be removed from the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan pending in the Senate, Manchin also wants to add a work requirement and place a family income cap of around $60,000 on the child tax credit proposal, Axios reported.
The spending package would expand the credit funded for a year in the $1.9 coronavirus relief plan passed in March that set a $150,000 cutoff.
While Manchin’s demand would help lower the overall cost of the package, it would also weaken a signature program that the president is pursuing to help working families, the report said.
And would also make the package less palatable to progressives.
In a phone call last week with Democratic lawmakers, Manchin and Sinema objected to a price tag floated by Biden of around $1.9 trillion or $2.2 trillion because they hadn’t seen details of what’s in the plan from the White House, CNN reported.
“Let’s see your proposal, and negotiate downward,” Sinema recalled telling Biden, CNN reported, citing a person familiar with the call.
The tactic left some Democrats scratching their heads.
“Why would the president propose that number without having Manchin and Sinema on board?” a Democratic member told the cable network. “There seems to be a pretty big miscalculation by the White House.”
Getting Manchin and Sinema onboard is crucial for the White House passing the legislation in the 50-50 divided Senate.
With Post Wires