House Dems Reportedly Eager to Pass Infrastructure, Social Policy Bills by 2 November as Biden 'Win'
© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteDawn breaks over the US Capitol building in Washington DC
© AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite
Joe Biden visited the House Democratic Caucus meeting on 28 October to implore lawmakers to rally around the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill stalled by progressives – who wanted the Senate to first pass the vast social spending bill, as the president hoped to fly to Europe for the G20 and subsequent COP26 summits with a win.
House Democrats are hopeful that Biden’s much-touted $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion social safety net package will be passed by lawmakers as early as 2 November, according to Axios.
House progressives, some of whom leveraged their support for the infrastructure bill on the condition that the Senate will pass the social spending measure first, are meeting virtually on Sunday afternoon, according to Democratic aides cited by the outlet.
House leadership reportedly informed committees they have until Sunday to wrap up changes to the Build Back Better bill, which aims to expand the nation's social safety net and combat climate change. Subsequently, the House Rules Committee will meet on 1 November to consider the legislation in a session that is popularly known as the “mark-up” session.
Members of the committee study the viewpoints presented, with amendments potentially offered, and members voting to accept or reject these changes. Afterwards, a floor vote might happen on 2 November. However, it was added that the schedule is “not set in stone yet.”
Biden ‘Desperate for a Win’
The reason for the highly ambitious timeline, given the dissent the massive economic and climate package has sown both along party lines and within the US Democratic Party ranks – between moderates and progressives – is purportedly the US president’s eagerness to flaunt a major win during his second major foreign trip.
Biden departed Washington on 28 October, first heading to Rome for the Group of 20 Summit and an official stop at the Vatican City to meet with Pope Francis. Next on the schedule is the COP26, a UN climate summit, hosted by Glasgow on 31 October-12 November.
Furthermore, if Democrats succeed, the votes on the parallel bills will coincide with a gubernatorial election in Virginia, set for 2 November, that pits Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the former governor attempting a comeback, against GOP Virginia gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin.
The tight election race in the state is seen by politicians as a referendum on Biden’s first year in office. Virginia went for Democrat Biden by 10 points in the 2020 November presidential election.
Biden left the country on Thursday with only a framework deal for his massive social spending bill; he failed to secure explicit endorsement from all 50 Democratic senators. He pleaded with House Democrats during a caucus meeting on Thursday that the fate of the two packages was key to both the electoral success of his administration and congressional Democrats.
The text of Biden's trimmed-back spending package was released on Thursday afternoon, with the president hailing it as a "historic economic framework." The price tag has been whittled down from the original $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion over a decade.
© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his Build Back Better infrastructure agenda at the NJ TRANSIT Meadowlands Maintenance Complex in Kearny, New Jersey, U.S., October 25, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his Build Back Better infrastructure agenda at the NJ TRANSIT Meadowlands Maintenance Complex in Kearny, New Jersey, U.S., October 25, 2021
While Biden's domestic spending package initially included two years of free community college for all students regardless of income, the plan was dropped. He also initially proposed 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, but the benefit was first scaled down and then cut out entirely from the compromise proposal.
The new framework unveiled by the White House contained an offer of $555 billion for climate and clean energy investments, and $400 billion for child care and preschool via programmes funded for six years.
As Republicans have been vehemently opposing the massive spending package, Democrats have been trying to enact the plan through a budgetary process called reconciliation. This would allow it to clear the Senate hinging solely on Democratic support.
However, there has been protracted haggling in the House over the size and scope of the package between progressives and a pair of moderate Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Weighing in on the split between the moderate and progressive Democrats over the spending proposals before flying to Europe, Biden stated: “And that's what I ran on. I've long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy… No one got everything they wanted, including me. But that’s what compromise is.”