By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Divisions between progressives and moderates are bedeviling U.S. Democrats as they struggle to advance President Joe Biden’s agenda, with the fate of the $3.5 trillion social spending legislation they hope to pass hanging in the balance.
The House of Representatives Majority leader StenyHoyer said Tuesday that the price tag for the proposal could be reduced depending on the support of the Senate Democrats, which includes moderate Senator Joe Manchin.
Hoyer declared, “If they don’t have the Senate to make 3.5, then we need to find out what they can.”
Progressive (NYSE.:) Democrats from the House protested at this possibility.
Outside the Capitol, Representative Jamaal bowman stated that he would not vote to approve a reconciliation package less than 3.5. trillion.
Bowman stated that many of the other House legislators agreed with him. Bowman said that he had just met with 40 other House lawmakers about the matter.
These comments highlighted the difficulties Democrats have in passing legislation that embraces Biden’s broad agenda, despite their razor-thin majority and staunch Republican resistance.
Democrats can’t afford to lose more that three votes in both the House and the Senate if they want to pass the green energy, childcare and education measures.
As Republicans made clear their commitment not to support Democrats raising the federal government’s borrowing limit, this situation became more complicated.
The Democrats will likely have to push the debt limit bill through Congress with no Republican support. This could pose significant risks for the economy and the country’s future.
Manchin’s moderate Republican West Virginia representative says he will not support $3.5 trillion for social spending. Publicly, he has pushed for $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion in total social spending. Progressives find this unacceptable.
Rashida Talaib (a House progressive) said that she is “absolutely” concerned about the reductions in social spending.
On Monday, she stated that her third most poor congressional district is in Texas. “People don’t know my people have been waiting to see this type of big investment.”
There are schools in our district that have no safe drinking water and some of them may be lead-contaminated. Tlaib said that there are many communities on the frontlines who want us to address climate change. His district also includes Detroit.
Some progressive Democrats including Alexandria Ocasio Cortez suggested that the plan’s reduction could lead to something worse than nothing.
Ocasio-Cortez stated that the $1 trillion multiparty infrastructure bill, which has been passed by the Senate but is currently pending in Congress, is “perfect.” She said it is not only insufficient on the spending front, but also its climate provisions would be detrimental.
Ocasio Cortez said that “there is absolutely a limit where it isn’t just – nothing is better than anything, but some things can do more harm.” “That’s why our firm stand by our position.”