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Progressives call for House vote

After a meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, a US Democratic Representative, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, October 28, 2021.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

As Democratic leaders struggle to deal with small numbers of stubborn members, a key House panel met Wednesday to examine President Joe Biden’s latest social safety net version and climate plan.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, can lose only three members her caucus to ensure she passes the spending bill with a party line vote.

House Progressives pressed their leaders on Wednesday after months of refusing the passage of an infrastructure bill.

A House Rules Committee vote on the bill to address climate change and social issues could be a step closer to meeting their timeframe. Rules Committee consideration is one last step before a bill moves to the full House. This raises hopes Wednesday that it could be voted upon within days.

Progressives tried to change the narrative by urging voters this week and removing the view that the party’s left-wing was the problem in passing Biden’s signature legislation.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), is the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and expressed optimism that both bills would be passed by the House in the days ahead.

On Wednesday, she said to MSNBC that both bills would be passed. “I can’t believe things if I don’t have a reason,” she said.

While progressives wanted to see their economic plans passed quickly, some Democratic centerists called for an immediate halt on voting for Biden’s crown jewel: the $1.75 billion climate and social spending plan. These two sides of the Democratic Party saw their roles reversed by these clashing positions.

Although they are close to finishing their economic agenda, Democrats must still overcome many obstacles in order to pass the massive social safety net expansion as well as the renewal of the transportation and utilities systems they promised voters.

While the House Rules Committee had planned to meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the new draft of its safety net/climate bill, it was not clear when the committee would complete its review.

On Wednesday, there were new questions about whether or not the House Democrats bill that eventually passes will bear the stamp of approval from the two Senate swing voters, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin (West Virginia).

The House Democrats have crafted their bill to satisfy both Sinema and Manchin, assuming that approval of a House bill that cannot pass the Senate is a futile exercise and dangerous political wager.

Pelosi admitted Wednesday that the House bill will contain provisions that don’t have Sinema and Manchin approval.

PelosiDemocrat representatives said that they would increase the paid leave to four weeks. Manchin’s opposition forced Democrats initially to remove the top legislative priority from their framework.

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On Wednesday, Manchin replied to Pelosi by saying that the addition of paid time off is “very difficult” for him. He was instrumental in the party’s decision to reduce its legislative cost tag by half and eliminate a critical clean-energy program.

Pelosi acknowledged Wednesday that the Senate and House will need to reach a compromise before Biden could sign any bill.

She wrote, “Because I was informed by Senator of Opposition to some of the priorities in our bill, and because we need legislation approved by both the House and Senate in the final draft of the Build Back better Act we will send the President’s desk,”

Democrats have been affected by electoral politics. A Republican triumph in the Virginia governor’s raceDiscussions have begun about the changes that Democrats must make to protect their majority in 2022’s midterms, following a close-than-expected election for gubernatorial in New Jersey.

Some lawmakers view Tuesday’s results as an opportunity to send a message that Democrats need to demonstrate they can manage and improve the lives of Americans through their legislation. These benefits include universal pre-K for all children and an expanded child tax credit.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), urged his party in a statement after Tuesday’s election to adopt both plansks of the economic agenda.

He stated, “We must legislate to keep our promises.” We must also communicate more effectively on the effects of the legislation and Administration’s policies on voters’ economic concerns.

But other Democrats in Congress viewed the elections as a sign that the party needs to proceed with caution in passing its massive legislation — or approve only the infrastructure bill as soon as possible.

Five centrist Democratic representatives — enough to sink the bill — have told Pelosi they want to see a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bills before any vote.

“It’s better to do this right than rush it,” Democratic Reps. Ed Case, Jared Golden, Maine, Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey, Stephanie Murphy, Florida, and Kurt Schrader, Oregon, wrote Tuesday to Pelosi.

Before they pass any bill, Democrats must resolve other issues. Gottheimer, along with at least two others from high tax states, have indicated that they would vote against the bill if it lifted the $10,000 limit on local and state tax deductions set by the GOP in 2017.

Proposed because wealthy people would benefitdisproportionately, the progressives were critical of it. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Chair, Senate Budget Committee has proposed a compromise where households making less than $400,000 can take the entire deduction while others who earn more would not.

Immigration language is another potential problem. A few House Democrats insist that social spending legislation contain provisions for the aid of millions of undocumented immigrants living in America, including many who have lived here for decades.

However, moderates worry that some constituents might oppose any broad measure to allow undocumented migrants to obtain legal status. A moderate also points out the fact that Senator Parliamentarian (a nonpartisan referee for Senate bills) has twice rejected Democrats’ attempts to insert immigration language into the Social Spending bill. The budget bill is required to follow Senate rules.

To send the Social Spending Plan to the President, both the Senate and the House must pass it. Joe BidenHis signature.

Although the Senate passed the bill already with bipartisan support, passage by the House would take it to Biden’s desk.

The Senate could pass a reconciliation bill version that differs from the House’s version. If this happens, the House would need to vote it back.

It seems likely that legislative sausage-making will continue into November, possibly December.

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Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.