Democrats face heavy load on Biden’s agenda as GOP stands ready – .

Democrats face heavy load on Biden’s agenda as GOP stands ready – .

WASHINGTON – Congress must fund the government within the next 10 days, or risk a federal shutdown.

Increase the country’s borrowing limit or default on its debt.

All as Democratic lawmakers scramble to back President Joe Biden’s massive $ 3.5 trillion program to “build better” in the House and Senate with stiff opposition from Republicans.

The scale of the challenges ahead and the speed required to get the job done is unlike anything Congress has encountered in recent memory, situating Biden’s entire national agenda and the political fate of his Democratic Party. at a crucial time.

On Monday, White House-backed Democratic leaders announced they would advance on one front – with a vote to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling, anything but bold Republicans to oppose the package and risk a crisis.

“The American people expect our fellow Republicans to shoulder their responsibilities and pay off the debts they proudly helped incur,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement. joint statement.

Republicans have made it clear that they will help next to nothing. Instead, as a minority party in Congress hoping to regain control in the next election in 2022, Republicans plan to sit down, watch and wait to see if Biden and his allies can succeed through thick and thin. – or fail dramatically.

This week’s vote on funding to keep government running past September 30, the end of the fiscal year, will force the political deadlock into the open.

The package is expected to keep most spending at current levels on an interim basis until the end of the year and include additional funds for the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters, as well as the money to help cover evacuations from Afghanistan. Relying on legislative language to allow more borrowing to cover the country’s debt payments through 2022 paves the way for a showdown.

The Treasury Department has warned it will run out of cash soon and will have to rely on incoming receipts to pay off its obligations, which now stand at $ 28.4 trillion. This could force the treasury to delay or miss payments, a devastating situation.

“It would likely precipitate a historic financial crisis,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Once a routine affair, lifting the debt ceiling has become a political weapon of choice for Republicans since the arrival in 2011 of Tea Party lawmakers who refused to lift it. At the time, they opposed increased spending and the deadlock sparked a budget crisis.

Echoing this strategy, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is not about to help pay off debt when Biden is about to rack up more with a bundle of taxes. and “reckless” spending.

“Since the Democrats have decided to go it alone, they will not get help from Senate Republicans in raising the debt ceiling. I have been explaining this clearly and consistently for over two months, ”McConnell said in the Senate Monday.

Backed by the White House, Pelosi retorts that when McConnell controlled the Senate, he relied on Democratic votes to help raise the debt ceiling under the previous administration and she expects the same from him now.

“Limiting the debt is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together,” Pelosi, D-Calif., Said in a letter Sunday night to his colleagues.

Schumer, DN.Y., said raising the debt ceiling is necessary to meet the country’s past commitments, and “what Republicans are doing is nothing less than a dinner-and-dash of historical proportions ”.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Democrats are negotiating among themselves Biden’s big $ 3.5 trillion package, as the price likely slips to win over skeptical centrist lawmakers who see it as too much.

The size and scope of Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative cannot be overstated. It touches almost every aspect of American life.

Biden’s plan is not only to rebuild the country after the COVID-19 crisis and economic fallout, but also to begin to change long-standing federal spending patterns in ways that provide more services to more Americans and to try to level the growing inequality of income that permeates the economy.

The proposal would impose tax hikes on businesses and wealthy Americans earning more than $ 400,000 a year and put that money back into federal programs for young and old. It would increase and expand government health, education and family support programs for households, children and the elderly, and boost environmental infrastructure programs to tackle climate change.

One topic the bill may not cover is immigration, after the Senate parliamentarian indicated that Biden’s proposal would not pass House rules for consideration as part of the budget process.

With Republicans opposed to Biden’s bigger picture, Democrats have no voice to spare. As Democrats try to rally support from their own ranks, they have only the tightest control of Congress as a majority, with a Senate at 50-50 and a margin of a few votes in the House.

Pelosi and his leadership team are expected to meet earlier this week, and Senate Democrats are meeting as well, as they work out the details of the package ahead of a self-imposed deadline.

By September 27, Pelosi pledged a vote on a companion bill, a $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on public works projects that enjoys broad support from both sides in the government. Senate, although House Republicans are mostly opposed.

While this bipartisan bill should be easy legislative easing, it also faces a political hurdle. Dozens of Congressional Progressive Caucus lawmakers are expected to vote against if it gets ahead of the broader Biden package. But centrists won’t vote for the larger package unless they are assured that the bipartisan bill will also be included.


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