Democrats Aim to Keep Government Funded as Talks Continue on $3.5 Trillion Bill

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Party leaders seek to bridge gap between moderates and progressives who threaten Biden’s agenda

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The government-funded deadline is one of many scheduling crunches Democrats will face in the coming days. The party is hoping to bridge a rift between its progressive and liberal members on Mr Biden’s agenda and is currently approving a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the House in a vote scheduled for Thursday.

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However, the effort to approve the infrastructure law has been muddled with talks over a separate, $3.5 trillion education, climate and health care bill. Some progressive Democrats are threatening to oppose the infrastructure bill unless the social-policy bill is passed by the Senate or until a formal agreement is reached on its contents. The strategy aims to pressure moderate Democrats to support the $3.5 trillion proposal.

Mr Biden has held several meetings in recent days with moderate Democrats to call off their support for social-policy and climate efforts, and in turn, quell progressive fears that moderates will block that bill. Top Democrats are racing to secure a renewed agreement on the social-policy and climate bill before the infrastructure bill is brought to the floor of the House.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has said in recent days that the infrastructure bill will go on the floor on Thursday, independent of the status of other legislation. Then he changed behavior and looked again to consider an infrastructure bill conditional on a deal on social-policy and the climate effort.

“I think that if we come to a place where we have consent in legislative language, not just in principle, in legislative language, which the President endorses, that has to meet his standard, because that’s what we support. and then I think we will come together,” Mrs Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday, citing the $3.5 trillion proposal.

Mrs Pelosi ruled out the possibility of delaying the House vote on the infrastructure bill for the second time. She reached an agreement with moderate House Democrats to vote on the infrastructure bill last Monday.

“We take it one step at a time,” she said.

In addition to an uproar among Democrats over Mr Biden’s policy agenda, Republicans and Democrats are also locked in a standoff over raising the country’s borrowing limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Tuesday that unless Congress takes action, the country will be unable to pay its bills from October 18.

Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to suspend debt limits in the Senate, opposing the scope of Democrats’ spending ambitions, arguing that Democrats take responsibility for authorizing more borrowing.

Democrats have accused Republicans of creating the risk of a potentially catastrophic default on the loan, offering to pass the measure along party lines if Republicans first allow the process to proceed. Democrats have the power to raise the debt limit through a separate process called conciliation. So far he has resisted going that route, calling reconciliation time-consuming and unnecessary.

Democrats had originally lumped together the debt-limit measure and the government-funding patch, trying to increase pressure on Republicans to support the necessary measures. Republicans still block the bill, which includes $28.6 billion in emergency disaster aid and $6.3 billion to help resettle Afghan evacuations.

The separation of debt limits and government-funding measures would facilitate passage of a stopgap spending bill in the Senate and likely avoid shutdowns this week, though both sides will continue to battle over borrowing limits.

The House is expected to soon take up a stand-alone bill on debt limits, although some moderate Democrats have said they were hesitant to support the measure. Mrs Pelosi said on Wednesday she did not have the patience for Democrats who would not support a bill allowing more borrowing.

“All these members voted for it last week, so if they’re worried about how it might be in an ad, it’s already in an ad, it’s already in an ad, So let’s give us every confidence every step of the way,” she said.


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