Key House panel reviews Democrats’ social spending bill as progressives push for a vote this week

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  • A major House panel was set to review the latest version of President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate plan as Democratic leaders try to contend with smaller groups of holdouts.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi could risk losing three of her caucuses only if she hopes to pass a bill that spends on party-line votes.
  • After months of refusing to pass the infrastructure bill without first finalizing the companion social spending bill, House progressives this week pressured their leadership to hold votes on both bills.

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A major House panel was set up Wednesday to review the latest version of President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate plan as Democratic leaders try to grapple with smaller groups of holdouts.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi could risk losing three of her caucuses only if she hopes to pass a bill that spends on party-line votes.

After months of refusing to pass the infrastructure bill without first finalizing the companion social spending bill, the House Progressives on Wednesday pressured its leadership to hold votes on both bills this week.

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If the House Rules Committee moves the social and climate bill soon enough, the chamber could have a chance to meet its deadline. The rules committee’s idea is one of the final steps before it goes to the full house for a vote, with the measure expected to be voted on within a few days on Wednesday.

By pushing for votes this week, progressives attempt to shift the narrative away from one where the party’s signature of leftist Biden is a hindrance to passing legislation.

Congress Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash, expressed confidence that the House could pass both the bills in the coming days.

“We’re going to pass both of these bills this week,” she told MSNBC on Wednesday. “I don’t say things without a reason to believe them,” she said, “so yeah, we’re going to get them done.”

But as progressives urged their party’s economic plans to be passed swiftly, some Democratic centrists called for a halt to voting for the crown jewel of Biden’s agenda: a $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package. The confrontational stance led to a role reversal for these two parts of the Democratic Party.

While they come close to finalizing their economic agenda, Democrats still have to overcome several hurdles to expand the social safety net and refresh the transportation and utility systems they promised voters. .

The House Rules Committee planned to meet on Wednesday afternoon to consider the latest draft of the safety net and climate bill, but it was unclear when the committee would be finished with its assessment by the end of the day.

There were also new questions Wednesday about whether the bill House Democrats would eventually pass would seal the approval of two Senate swing votes, centrist Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinemas of Arizona.

So far, House Democrats have drawn up their bill to meet the demands of both Manchin and Cinema, on the assumption that the House approving a bill that could not pass the Senate would be futility and a dangerous political gamble.

But on Wednesday, Pelosi acknowledged that the House version of the bill would contain provisions that do not have the approval of munching and cinema.

Pelosi said Democrats would add four weeks of paid leave to the bill. Munchkin’s opposition originally forced Democrats to eliminate the key legislative priority from the framework.

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Munchkin responded to Pelosi on Wednesday, saying the inclusion of paid leave was a “huge challenge” for him. The senator was the driving force behind halving the party’s legislative price tag and scrapping a major clean-energy program.

In a letter to House Democrats on Wednesday, Pelosi acknowledged the House and Senate will have to iron out more differences before Biden can sign the bill.

“Because I have been informed by a senator of opposition to some of the priorities contained in our bill and because we must have legislation agreed upon by the House and Senate in the final version of the Build Back Better Act that we will send to the President’s table, we will have to put it into law in general.” Must try to find base,” she wrote.

Electoral politics has complicated the process for Democrats. A Republican victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a more-than-expected election in blue New Jersey have sparked discussions about what Democrats need to change as they try to defend their majority in the 2022 midterm. We do.

Some lawmakers see Tuesday’s results as a message to Democrats that they need to show quickly that they can control and improve the lives of Americans through the benefits enshrined in their legislation, including universal pre-K. , expanded health care programs and an enhanced child tax credit.

In a statement after Tuesday’s elections, Rep. Don Baer, ​​D-VA, urged his party to pass both planks of its economic agenda.

“We should make laws and keep our promises,” he said. “We must also work hard to communicate effectively about this legislation and the policies of the administration to help address the economic concerns of voters.”

But other Democrats in Congress saw the elections as a sign that the party needs to proceed cautiously in passing its larger legislation – or simply approve the infrastructure bill – as soon as possible.

Five centrist Democratic representatives – enough to sink the bill – have told Pelosi they want to see an economic analysis of the bills by the Congressional Budget Office or the Joint Committee on Taxation before any vote.

Democratic Reps. Ed Case of Hawaii, Jared Golden of Maine, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kurt Schrader of Oregon wrote to Pelosi on Tuesday.

Democrats will have to settle other policy issues before the bill can be passed. Gottheimer and at least two other representatives from high-tax states have indicated they may vote against the bill unless it removes the $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions enacted by the GOP in 2017.

Progressives have criticized the proposal as it would disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-VT, has reached a settlement that allows households earning less than $400,000 to take the full deduction, but those earning more than that cannot.

Another potential sticking point is immigration language. A small group of House Democrats has insisted that the Social Spending Bill contain at least some of the same provisions to help the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States, many of whom have been working for decades. are here.

But moderates fear their constituents may oppose any sweeping measures to move undocumented immigrants to legal status. They also point to the fact that a Senate lawmaker, a nonpartisan referee of Senate bills, has already twice rejected Democrats’ efforts to include immigration language in the social spending bill, which was approved by the Senate. The budget needs to be structured as a bill because of the rules of the

Both the House and Senate still need to pass the social spending plan for President Joe Biden to sign.

The Senate has already passed the infrastructure bill with a bipartisan majority, however, passage in the House will send it directly to Biden’s desk.

If the Senate passes a version of the reconciliation bill that is significantly different as the House version, it will need to return to the House for a final vote.

This timeline reveals the possibility that legislative sausage-making could continue into November and possibly even December.

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