WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday pressured lawmakers to reach an agreement by next week on a pair of massive domestic spending measures, signaling the desire Democrats to aggressively advance President Joe Biden’s multi-billion dollar agenda.
Schumer, DN.Y., said he plans a procedural vote next Wednesday to start debate on an ever-evolving bipartisan infrastructure bill. Senators on both sides, negotiating for weeks, struggled to reach a final deal on a $ 1 trillion package of highways, water systems and other public works projects.
Schumer said he also wanted Democratic senators to reach an agreement among themselves by then on the specific details of a separate 10-year budget plan that envisions $ 3.5 trillion in climate change spending, l education, Medicare expansion and more.
“Now is the time to move forward. And we go. We must,” Schumer said on Senate floor.
The majority leader’s plans were aimed at pushing lawmakers to settle differences so Democrats could push forward their plans to fortify the long-term economy and help low-income and middle-class families while imposing taxes. higher to the rich and big business.
“There may be a last minute discussion about who, what mechanism is used to pay for each of these items”, Biden spoke about the two measures at a White House press conference Thursday. “But I believe we’ll get there.”
Lawmakers working on the smaller infrastructure package met on Thursday to discuss details, but angered at Schumer’s deadline. They said substantial hurdles remained, including how to pay the nearly $ 579 billion in new spending over five years that they had agreed with the White House. The rest of the money in the infrastructure proposal is a renewal of existing programs.
Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., Said senators disagreed on whether Schumer’s timeline was helping the bipartisan effort. Warner said the White House was trying to work with senators on ways to pay for the new spending without increasing corporate taxes or fees such as the federal gasoline tax.
“We still lack remuneration”, said Sen. Mike Rounds, RS.D.
It will take 60 votes to start debating the infrastructure measure because Republicans would have to use obstruction – procedural delays – to try and kill her.
That means the 50 House Democrats will need the support of at least 10 Republicans. Democratic leaders are hoping that a bipartisan deal on the wildly popular road projects and other projects would attract enough Republicans to be successful. Yet negotiators faced major problems over the revenue they would raise to fund infrastructure legislation.
One of the biggest sources of revenue, boosting the IRS application to bring in about $ 100 billion over 10 years, has been a major talking point in the negotiations. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., Said the group is considering alternative measures.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, predicted lawmakers would be able to craft a final bill, though he wasn’t sure they would come together “Anyone’s arbitrary deadline. “
“I appreciate the fact that the majority leader wants to have a vote as soon as possible. I don’t disagree with that, but ASAP means when it’s ready ”, said Portman.
Meanwhile, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Want Congress to approve a $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution before lawmakers begin summer recess next month. Approval of this measure is crucial for Democrats because it would protect a subsequent bill actually providing that money for specific programs, likely this fall, from further GOP obstruction, meaning Democrats could pass it. themselves.
The Democrats’ agreement this week to their $ 3.5 trillion overall figure was a major milestone for a party whose rival moderate and progressive factions have conflicting visions of the value and daring of the final package.
But that’s just the first step that leaves the more difficult decisions for later. They must translate their plan into legislation with specific spending and revenue figures, then line up the votes needed to enact it, a process likely to continue throughout the fall.