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Senior House Democrats concede likely scale-back of $3.5 trillion Biden spending bill By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A flag of America is flown outside the U.S. Capitol dome at Washington, U.S.A. on January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

By David Lawder and Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Democrats said on Sunday that they will likely need to scale back President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending bill while passage of the linked bipartisan infrastructure bill may slip past a Sept. 27 deadline.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may also delay the sending of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to the White House until that larger bill is passed, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said to Fox News Sunday – an attempt to get moderate Democrats to support the bill.

Their comments illustrate the difficult path Democrats face in passing Biden’s sweeping agenda with razor-thin majorities and staunch Republican opposition. The Democratic caucus is tense, with the moderate and progressive wings sharply divided on the issue of how much spending should be.

There are October deadlines that Democrats must meet to finance the government and increase the federal debt limit. Both failures could be a setback for the economy, and the party’s credibility with voters.

Yarmuth was asked about the total “reconciliation” tax hike and spending bill for childcare, education, green energy. He stated that it is likely the bill will have a top-line figure of “a bit less than $3.5 trillion.”

CNN spoke with Representative James Clyburn who is the third ranking House Democrat. He said that it could be less.

It may not be $3.5 trillion, but it could be close. Clyburn spoke on the “State of the Union”, stating that he believes Americans should be focusing on the people and think about the steps needed to reach a better place.

Democrats want to pass this massive spending plan with Republican support. They cannot afford to lose any Democratic votes or three House votes, and they can’t even get the Senate to approve it.

Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Kyrsten Silenza are moderate Senate Democrats who believe $3.5 trillion to be excessive. Manchin proposes spending half of that amount. Some progressive Democrats say that they can’t support spending lower amounts to boost the middle class, but others in the House disagree.

Clyburn stated that it would take “some work” for Democrats to come together and support the bill but said “I believe in our party leadership.”

The $3.5 trillion spending package aims to support American families with free community college, universal preschool, an extended Child Tax Credit and investments in clean energy. But it also comes with major proposed tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations.

Pelosi tried to delay the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill in order to get moderate Democrats to support it. House Democrats have set Sept. 27 as the deadline to pass the infrastructure bill in a budget resolution. The larger spending bill, however, is still not ready for voting.

Yarmuth stated that the infrastructure bill can still be passed, however leverage may be maintained if Pelosi keeps it from Biden’s desk before signing it into law.

According to Yarmuth, this is possible under legislative rules. “She could keep that bill for quite a while. There’s some flexibility when it comes to combining the mandates.

Yarmuth stated that the deadline of Sept. 27, would probably be missed and the passage of the infrastructure bill would slip “sometime in early October, would be my best guess.”

Yarmuth indicated that he was open to the idea of incorporating a debt ceiling rise into either a regular appropriations measure, or the reconciliation plan. However, he said “I don’t believe that decision has yet been made.” The debt ceiling can be raised in many ways, but it is mandatory.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stated that his party won’t support raising the debt limit, despite warnings from Treasury officials about exhausting its cash and borrowing capacities in October. This would leave the U.S. government without the ability to meet its obligations.