By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic leaders were hoping for House votes as early as Tuesday on the two pillars of President Joe Biden’s national agenda, two Democrats said on Saturday, as the party launched its latest attempt to push through long-running legislation delayed in Congress.
However, it was not clear whether the ambitious timetable could be met.
Top Democrats would like a final compromise between the House and Senate on Biden’s 10-year social and environmental front, now $ 1.75 trillion, drafted by Sunday, Democrats said.
Talks between White House, House and Senate officials took place over the weekend, said Democrats, who described the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially. The White House on Thursday unveiled a preview of the $ 1.75 trillion measure that has won positive reviews from many grassroots lawmakers, pending talks on the final details.
A deal could pave the way for congressional approval of the bill and a separate $ 1,000 billion in funding for road, rail and other infrastructure projects, Democrats said.
For a deal between the two houses to be viable in the Senate, it would need the support of Democratic Sense Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. House progressives long at odds over party spending and tax priorities with the two centrists should be confident they can trust them to back a deal.
Manchin and Sinema forced Biden to withdraw from his previous plan for a $ 3.5 trillion social and environmental plan and to cut and scale down some initiatives. Democrats will need the Senate’s unanimous 50-50 support to pass the legislation, which all Republicans oppose, and will not be able to lose more than three more Democratic votes in the House.
Additionally, some Democrats are still seeking to include provisions requiring paid family leave, letting Medicare negotiate drug prices to bring down prescription drug costs and help millions of immigrants stay in the United States.
The non-partisan parliamentarian of the Senate, who enforces the strict rules of that chamber, could also decide that certain provisions of the social and environmental bill violate procedures and should be removed. Elizabeth MacDonough has previously spoken out against including two earlier Democratic proposals helping immigrants.
After months of disputes between progressives and moderates over the social and environmental bill, party leaders had pressured lawmakers to resolve their disagreements in order to strengthen Biden’s influence before he left for talks on Thursday economic and climate change in Europe.
Biden asked House Democrats at a meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday morning to support the two bills, but their divisions have remained and Congress has left town until next week. Biden will be in Europe next week, so any early deal in Congress could still give him a boost.
Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Democratic-leaning Virginia is also coming up. Polls show Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin could defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor, and it is unclear how that could affect Congressional support for the social and environmental package.
The $ 1.75 trillion measure is expected to wipe out the Senate after it passes the House.
Its initiatives include money for free preschool, tax credits to boost the movement towards cleaner fuels and electrified vehicles, subsidies for child care and health coverage, and more funding for housing and home care for the elderly. Most of its costs would be covered by higher taxes on the rich and corporate and by bolstering the IRS budget to pursue higher income tax crooks.
The Senate approved the infrastructure measure in August on a bipartisan vote. Progressives in the House have hijacked this bill in an attempt to ensure that moderates will support the larger social and environmental bill.
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