WASHINGTON – House Democrats on Thursday struggled to gather the votes needed to push through a $ 1.85 trillion social safety net, climate and tax system, as moderate members raised concerns about the cost and details of the rapidly changing plan.
California’s Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately told her senior deputies that she hopes to vote on the bill as early as Thursday night and another on Friday morning to clear a Senate-approved $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure for President Biden to sign, according to two messages. people informed about the discussions.
But as of Thursday afternoon, she has been publicly dodging commitments.
“I’ll let you know as soon as I want,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. She ruled out the possibility of voting first on the infrastructure bill, which the Liberals refused to support unless it moves in tandem with broader domestic policies.
“We’re going to pass both bills,” said Ms Pelosi. “But for this we must have votes for both bills.”
It was unclear if this was possible, given that some centrists objected to the passing of the social policy bill, which includes monthly payments to families with children, universal preschool education, four-week paid family leave and sick leave program, health subsidies and a wide range of initiatives. climate change – before assessing its financial implications.
They were also concerned about support policies – such as the provision of legal status to some undocumented immigrants – who are likely to face difficulties in the Senate, subjecting them to a politically difficult vote to a measure that will never become law.
The two bills, which make up a large part of Biden’s economic agenda, have been in limbo for weeks as Democrats argue over details. Centrists, led by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, are demanding that social protection measures be cut to about half of the $ 3.5 trillion the leaders originally proposed.
While the Senate approved the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill in August, the measure stalled as advocates of progress repeatedly refused to vote for it until another bill was agreed.
House Democrats now hope to take both measures this week, sending the infrastructure bill to Mr Biden and the social protection bill to the Senate, where Democrats are slated to begin work on it in the week of November 15.
“Adopting transformative legislation is not easy – it is difficult, very difficult,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Majority Leader. “But the long hours that we spend, the discussions that we had, some of them very sharp, are worth it.”
With unanimous Republican opposition, Democrats are pushing social and climate change policies through Congress through a special process known as reconciliation that protects budget legislation from pirates and allows it to pass a simple majority. But with little control, Democrats need the votes of every one of their senators and all but a few of their members in the House of Representatives to pass legislation.
This means that any Democratic defector – or a small group of them in the House of Representatives – can effectively torpedo legislation.
In a letter this week, five Democrats, including representatives Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, and Jared Golden of Maine, called on Ms. Pelosi to give them at least 72 hours to review the text of the reconciliation bill and wait full analysis by Congress experts confirming that the invoice has been paid in full.
“It’s better to do it right than to rush it unnecessarily, just for our constituents to discover the negative consequences of our unintended consequences,” lawmakers wrote.
The Joint Tax Committee released a report on Thursday that estimated that the tax hike in the bill would raise about $ 1.5 trillion over ten years. But a separate non-partisan agency, the Congressional Budget Office, has yet to publish a formal analysis of how much the bill will spend or how much revenue will be generated from other proposals, including a plan to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and strengthen the IRS’s ability to collect unpaid taxes.
Ms Pelosi and her deputies stressed that most of the legislation was public after two months of committee hearings, private conversations and drafts. Her office and White House officials have circulated separate preliminary estimates that the bill has been paid in full and will help reduce the deficit, a key priority for many moderates.
“By making our tax system fairer and by requiring the highest income earners and large corporations to pay what they owe, Congress has developed a package that is fiscally responsible and critical to the future prosperity of our economy,” Treasury Secretary Janet L said. Yellen said in a statement.
But in the latest version of the 2,135-page bill, Democratic leaders also added proposals, including a paid leave program that Mr. change. be rejected by the Senate.
It also upset Conservative Democrats, who initially got Ms. Pelosi to promise that she would not ask them to vote on a package that was not committed by all 50 senators.