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Democrats move to defer shutdown, but divisions affect Biden’s agenda

Democrats drafted legislation on Wednesday to prevent a government shutdown this week, but they were doing their best to protect President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, as conservative-leaning holdouts dented an ambitious $3.5 trillion social safety net and Dug against the climate bill, which lays out many of the party’s top priorities. .

Congress leaders moved to address the most immediate threat, working to complete a bill to prevent defaults of government funding at midnight Thursday. Yet after intense negotiations to bridge bitter differences in their party over two of Biden’s biggest legislative priorities, the president and top Democrats appeared as usual from an agreement on their marquee social policy package, called the White House Build Back Better Plan. says. .

In turn, this was affecting a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was set for a House vote on Thursday.

The fate of the two measures may define the success of Biden’s presidency, and the intense conversation surrounding him has tested his skills as a deal maker, which he has used as a calling card during his campaign for the White House. was exposed in But after several days of private meetings with lawmakers in the Oval Office and calls to key players, Biden was left with little of a deal.

Dramatizing the challenge, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key holdout on the social policy bill, issued a lengthy and strongly worded statement Wednesday evening, reiterating his opposition to the currently formed resolution, saying that This is “fiscal madness”.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) walks into the Capitol on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 in Washington. The decision by Democratic leaders to set a separate vote to raise the borrowing limit came after Senate Republicans did so in part. of stopgap spending bills. (Sarabeth Mane/The New York Times)

“While I hope common ground can be found that will result in another historic investment in our country, I cannot support trillions in spending – or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality of our country. has to be faced,” Munchin wrote, condemning an approach that he said would be “venomously taxed for wishful spending.”

The statement was contrary to what Biden and top Democrats had hoped to remove from Munchkin and other centrist critics of the bill by the end of the week – a move to placate liberals to eventually vote for a social policy measure. Strong public commitment. Make sure it is enacted.

Instead, it further enraged progressives, who were already pledging to oppose the infrastructure bill until Congress worked out a larger social policy plan, which Democrats called a fast-track. Planned to proceed using the process known as budget reconciliation. They are pressing to push the infrastructure vote until after votes on the reconciliation bill — or, at the very least, after centrist holdouts provide a firm understanding of what they will accept in that package.

“I think he’s saying the president is crazy, because that’s the president’s agenda,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said of Munchkin. “Look, that’s why we’re not voting for that bipartisan bill until we get a conciliation bill. It’s clear we have a way to go.

“Let me tell you, after that statement, we probably have even more people willing to vote ‘no’ on the bipartisan bill,” she said.

The standoff did not explain the fate of the infrastructure measure. While a handful of centrist Republicans plan to support it, GOP leaders are urging their members to oppose it, barring Democrats, who lack the votes to pass the bill if there is a progressive rebellion.

“The plan is to get the bill on the floor,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, returning to Capitol Hill after a huddle at the White House with Biden and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader. Asked if he was worried about the votes, he said, “One hour at a time.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) talks with reporters outside the Capitol on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 in Washington. Democrats face a consequent day on Capitol Hill on Thursday as they scramble to halt a midnight government shutdown and defend two crucial ones. Pieces of President Biden’s domestic agenda were fueled by deep internal divisions. (Sarabeth Mane/The New York Times)

Soon after the House passed legislation lifting the statutory limit on federal borrowing until December 16, 2022, it attempted to avert a catastrophic federal loan default next month, when the Treasury Department says it will breach current caps. .

Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to link the escalation with a spending bill to keep the government funded and are likely to oppose the House-passed bill, which was billed on Wednesday by a nearly party-wide vote of 219-212. Was approved on line vote.

But while the debt ceiling remained unresolved, Senate leaders on Thursday morning set a series of votes on legislation that would keep the government open through early December and provide critical aid for disaster relief efforts and Afghan refugees. The House is expected to consider the bill soon to avoid the shutdown on Thursday night.

But much of the urgency on Wednesday was focused on salvaging the president’s agenda, when Biden and his allies approved his schedule on Wednesday in an effort to broker a deal among Democrats.

Some Democrats have complained this week that the president has not engaged in talks to their satisfaction. For example, he welcomed groups of progressives and moderates to the White House last week, but met with each separately as opposed to holding group talks sessions.

And efforts by Biden and his team to pressure Manchin and Arizona’s Sen. Kirsten Cinema, another Democratic holdout on the reconciliation bill, have failed. Officials have been working for days to persuade the pair to specify how much they would be willing to spend on the package, calculating that such a commitment would allay the concerns of progressives who now face the infrastructure bill. refusing to support.

“Joe Biden is the only president in American history to have passed a relief package of importance to the US rescue plan with zero margin for error in the Senate and three votes left in the House,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman. The White House, referring to the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that became law in March. “He knows how to stand his ground, he knows how to count the votes, and he knows how to work for the American middle class.”
Cine and Munchkin both visited the White House on Tuesday, but after their meetings, neither he nor White House officials will calculate the outline of a bill they might support. Top White House officials also visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday and engaged with Sinema in private for more than two hours.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talks with reporters outside the Capitol on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 in Washington. Democrats face a consequent day on Capitol Hill on Thursday as they scramble to halt a midnight government shutdown and defend two crucial ones. Pieces of President Biden’s domestic agenda were fueled by deep internal divisions. (Sarabeth Mane/The New York Times)

“The president felt it was constructive, he felt he pushed the ball, there was an agreement, that we are at a critical moment,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s important to continue to finalize the way forward for the American people to find work.”

White House officials said Biden held talks with various lawmakers throughout the day on Wednesday and plans to continue them on Thursday.

Privately, administration officials said Biden was playing an encouraging role with Munchkin and cinema, and was not demanding that they agree to anything immediately. Both senators have yet to do so publicly, with even liberal Democrats publicly fuming over austerity.

In his statement on Wednesday, Manchin said he wanted to set income limits for several social program expansions proposed by Democrats. He suggested that he be prepared to undo some components of the 2017 tax cut.

Moderate House Democrats, who this week helped secure a commitment to a vote on the infrastructure bill, warned that a failed vote would worsen an already deep mistrust between the two factions of the party.

“If the vote fails or is delayed tomorrow, there will be a significant breach of trust that will slow the momentum going forward on delivering the Biden agenda,” said Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, one of the moderates. Separate the two plans.

Even as he worked to address philosophical differences in his party on the bill, Democrats were dealt another blow Wednesday when the Senate’s top rules enforcer nearly killed the living in the reconciliation bill. Rejected a second proposal to include a route to legal status for 8 million immigrants. country illegally.

In a memorandum obtained by The New York Times, Senate MP Elizabeth McDonough wrote that the policy change “significantly outweighed its budgetary impact”, effectively disqualifying it from being included in a measure whose content is not used. There should be a direct impact on the federal budget.

In their latest effort, Democrats had proposed moving the date forward for a process known as the immigration registry, which allows otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are in need to adjust their status and apply for citizenship. Have been in the United States continuously since a certain date to obtain the route. The current date, established in 1986, has been set as January 1, 1972. Democrats sought to change that date to January 1, 2010.

Last week, McDonough rejected a Democrat’s initial proposal to give legal status to several categories of people illegally in the country, including those brought to the United States as children, who are known as Dreamers. is known in; immigrants who were granted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons; people working in the country under a non-immigrant visa; about 1 million farmers; And millions more who are deemed “essential workers”.

He said the changes to immigration law could not be included in a reconciliation package under Senate rules because they represent a “tremendous and permanent policy change that undermines its budgetary impact.”

Democrats said they would continue to seek alternative strategies to assist immigrants through the reconciliation process.

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