Biden’s landmark spending bill faces a new battle in the Senate


Joe Biden’s bid to pass a $175 million package to strengthen the social safety net and the fight against climate change moved to the tricky area of ​​the U.S. Senate after the House of Representatives passed it.

The House of Representatives passed a comprehensive “Rebuild Better” bill on Friday, which includes subsidies for early childhood education, tax credits for families with children, expansion of public health care for the elderly, and approximately $550 billion in response to climate change. plan.

The vote was held days after Biden signed a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that will fund repairs to bridges, roads, tunnels and other transportation systems.

This is a major achievement for a president who has been trying to regain momentum after months of declining approval ratings and his party’s disappointing performance in state and local elections this month.

“We will tell our children and grandchildren that we are here today,” House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after Friday’s vote.

But the “Rebuild Better” bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and it is expected that legislators will debate the plan within a few weeks. At the same time, they are responding to the imminent threat of government shutdown, potential federal defaults, and the need to reach an agreement to continue funding the U.S. military. The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, insisted that all issues will be resolved by Christmas and that “rebuild better” will be passed in the upper house.

“Rubber will have to meet the road here. The House of Representatives has added some content and is now back in the Senate,” said Meghan Pennington, a former Democratic Senate aide for Hamilton Place Strategies, a Washington consulting firm. “It’s time for the Democratic leaders to perform [Schumer] Go to Work. “

Build Back Better has passed the Senate’s sausage-making machine before. The White House and Democratic congressional leaders have engaged in long negotiations with two senators-Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kelsten Cinemas in Arizona. Establish a “framework” to meet their requirements. These negotiations resulted in a reduction in the price of the package from the $3.5 trillion proposed by the White House to the current $1.75 trillion.

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Manchin and Sinema are the two most conservative Democrats in the upper house of Congress. They have tremendous influence. Because the Senate split between Democrats and Republicans at a ratio of 50 to 50, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was able to vote Tiebreaker. Given that the Republicans are firmly opposed to “rebuilding better”-they say this is equivalent to wasting public spending when inflation rises-if the bill is to be passed into law, the White House needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators to be called reconciliation. Bypass the obstruction rules of the Senate.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that senior government officials maintain “contacts” with key Democratic senators, even if they are focused on ensuring that the House of Representatives approves spending plans.

“We know this is the next important step here,” Psaki said. “And I believe the President will be [it’s] The right time to do this with them. “

The House version of Build Back Better includes two clauses that may encounter obstacles in the House of Lords. One is the reversal of the Trump-era tax policy, which has led to higher income taxes for wealthy homeowners in states such as New York, New Jersey, and California. The other is to introduce four weeks of paid home leave and sick leave for all workers.

Moderates in the House of Representatives demanded tax reforms, including Josh Gottheimer (Josh Gottheimer) and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey (Mikie Sherrill), which would allow people to deduct federal income taxes State and local taxes of up to $80,000, commonly referred to as salt, did not perform well in the state and local elections earlier this month, and are already worried about losses in the midterm elections next year, when the two houses of Congress are vying for control.

But progressive Democrats say these changes are unnecessary charity for the rich, and budget hawks worry about how much these changes will cost the Treasury Department.

For the president, the shadow of rising consumer prices is also great. Although Republicans have largely tried to blame Biden for rising inflation, members of his party have also raised red flags, suggesting that the president should take more measures to curb consumer costs.

At the same time, after Manchin objected, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s 12-week paid family visit and sick leave more ambitious proposals were excluded from the framework. Pello West incorporated the paid vacation clause into legislation. Unlike other Western economies, the United States does not guarantee paid vacation for new mothers. Manchin has repeatedly stated that he will only support one plan, and if its structure is similar to social security, everyone will pay for it.

At the same time, Senators Bernie Sanders and Ron Wyden suggested expanding medical insurance coverage to cover the dental and eye care costs of the elderly. They hoped to help billionaires Impose new taxes. Commit to further negotiations on their respective legislative priorities.

This laid the foundation for negotiations in the coming weeks, which may extend into the Christmas period. However, the Democrats insist that they will not leave the negotiating table without reaching an agreement.

“As long as it is possible, it will continue,” Pennington said. “But success is the only reasonable result.”

Before Biden signs the plan into law, any Senate agreement will need to be sent back to the House of Representatives for another approval vote-which may plunge the Democrats into party quarrels again.

But Pelosi expressed an optimistic view on Friday, saying that she will cooperate with the Senate “so that we can reach an agreement when it falls back.” [to the House]”.

“Ninety percent of the bill was written together: the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House,” she added. “In the end there were some differences, and we will deal with these differences as we move forward.”

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