Sunday, October 24, 2021

GOP blocks bill to keep government running; Democrats vow to try again before Thursday’s deadline

WASHINGTON — Republican senators blocked a bill Monday night to keep the government running and allow federal borrowing, but Democrats promised to try again aimed at preventing a shutdown — as well as President Joe Biden. put pressure on big plans to reshuffle the government.

The efforts aren’t necessarily linked, but last Thursday’s fiscal year deadline to fund the government is clashing against Democrats’ willingness to make progress on Biden’s $3.5 trillion federal overhaul.

All of this is creating a tumultuous moment for Biden and his party, the consequences of which will certainly shape his presidency and the lawmakers’ own political future.

The success would mean a historic achievement, if Democrats can help pass Biden’s big bill. Failure — or the highly unlikely government shutdown and debt crisis — can derail careers.

“You know me, I’m a born optimist,” Biden told reporters on Monday, as he rolled up his sleeve for a COVID-19 booster shot. “We’re going to get it done.”

Monday’s 50-48 vote against taking the bill fell far short of the 60 needed to move forward on the GOP filibuster. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changed his vote to “no,” a procedural step that allows him to bring the measure back for consideration, which he said will take place this week.

With days to go, Democrats said they would try again before Thursday’s deadline to fund government actions at the end of the September 30 fiscal year, setting aside debate on debt limits for another day. Doing so, closer to a different October deadline.

Meanwhile, real action is unfolding behind the scenes of a more than $3.5 trillion measure, with Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress demanding a once-in-a-generation rework of the nation’s balance sheet.

From fee pre-kindergarten and child care subsidies for families with young children to dental and hearing aids for seniors with Medicare, the president’s proposal has a lot to offer — all to be paid for with high taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Is.

With strong opposition from Republicans, Democrats are racing to cut the total within their own party and win holdouts.

As the overall price tag comes down, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats that the president is “working on number one”, referring to ongoing talks with the Senate, one person said at a late evening private caucus meeting. Anonymity allowed for discussion.

Despite the flurry of voting, Pelosi said House Democrats would not move forward on a bill until it was acceptable to her colleagues in the Senate, the person said.

Leaving the caucus meeting, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., said that as the momentum picks up on Thursday, he was hoping for a new total: “Let’s pop the numbers. “

Building on a separate $1 trillion bipartisan public works package that has already been approved by the Senate and headed for a House vote, also on Thursday, Biden spurred large spending on health care, education and efforts to tackle climate change. is demanding. He argues that the total price tag is actually “zero” – covered by the expected increase in tax revenue.

He is personally calling on fellow Democrats in Congress to work out differences and bring forward his broader domestic policy approach.

Removing the weighty list of goals as well as meeting other deadlines, Biden said: “If we do that, the country will be in a very good position.”

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But Republicans say this is real spending that cannot be afforded, and is a reflection of the Democrats’ campaign to put government in the lives of the people.

And so far, the bill is too big for major Democrats, whose votes are needed before the GOP opposition. Two Democratic holdouts, West Virginia’s Sans Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kirsten Cinema, have said they would not support a bill of that size. Munchkin previously proposed spending from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.

Progressive lawmakers said they have already reached substantial agreements with more centrist Democrats, but in a possible development, Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, confirmed that she and cinema are in talks. Huh.

With opposition from all Republicans, Democratic leaders can’t spare a single vote in the 50-50 Senate, relying on Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie to pass the final package.

All this, as other deadlines roll around this week to pay for government actions, allow for more borrowing or risk a catastrophic federal shutdown or loan default – though those dire scenarios are unlikely.

The bill Senate Republicans rejected on Monday night would have temporarily funded government operations in early December, while also providing emergency funding for Hurricane Ida and other disaster relief and for Afghan refugees after the 20-year war. would have done.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell rejected that approach because Democrats included a provision to suspend debt limits, which would allow the country to continue borrowing to pay bills.

Once a routine affair, raising the debt limit is now a political weapon of choice by Republicans to attack Democrats – even if both parties are responsible for piling on the debt.

Schumer said before the vote, “Democrats will do the responsible thing – do the right thing, do the work that has been done by both parties for decades, and vote yes.”

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