by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
House and Senate Democrats will have to resolve a bitter internal battle over spending in order to pass the two-part social welfare and infrastructure spending measure that lawmakers hope will become the party’s signature achievement ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Democratic leaders have scheduled only a handful of legislative workdays in September despite a seemingly impossible to-do list: pass a $3.5 trillion social welfare spending package along with a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill while also ensuring the government remains operating by clearing a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30.
Even though the party controls the majorities in both chambers, internal disagreements over the spending package may make this feat impossible.
The $3.5 trillion spending package is too expensive for some Senate Democrats, setting up an epic intraparty clash that could sink the entire deal.
House centrists won a commitment from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package by Sept. 27, but the powerful liberal faction of the party is insisting the $3.5 trillion legislation pass first.
Pelosi agreed to the infrastructure deadline in order to win the backing of centrist Democrats who had threatened to block a key resolution providing the framework for the $3.5 trillion bill and giving Democrats in the Senate the ability to pass the legislation without needed Republican votes.
The infrastructure bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, would fund roads, bridges, water projects, and expanded broadband. President Joe Biden has urged Congress to clear the bill for his signature. It passed the Senate in August.
But top liberal lawmakers are warning Pelosi against taking up the infrastructure bill unless the $3.5 trillion measure makes it across the finish line first. …
… House Democratic centrists say they back the social welfare spending package, but they warned Pelosi not to bring up a measure that may not have enough votes to pass among Senate Democrats.