The Democrats in D.C. are gearing up for what they hope are major moves in the month of July as Congress returns from this recent recess. The House’s January 6th Committee’s public hearings will be coming to a close, and President Biden’s legislative agenda will be facing its uphill battle.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is working overtime in his negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Schumer’s goal is a filibuster-proof bill that will pass major economic policies with only Democratic votes.
Schumer and Manchin have agreed on some provisions of the legislation like lowering prices on prescription drugs and raising taxes on some high-wage earners. They hope to use the added revenue to extend the life of Medicare. And they are continuing to negotiate other provisions in the bill that include energy and climate change funding.
In total, the Democrats are hoping to agree to $500 billion in spending and $1 trillion in new revenue. And according to sources in the know, the negotiations have set a goal to put half of the savings toward deficit reduction. This is a priority for Sen. Manchin.
The bad news is that Schumer and Manchin have not agreed yet on the total package and no one is sure if they will. Because Congress will have a month-long recess in August, the best chance for passing this package before the midterms is in July.
Most people are certain that the package will not include some of the provisions that did not pass the House in the Build Back Better Act. These provisions included cash payments to parents, child care, universal pre-K, and paid leave. That bill was rejected by Sen. Manchin and faced strong GOP opposition. Immigration reform has even less chance of making it into the package. Manchin is insisting that it be narrow and focused.
This package of legislation is being called reconciliation legislation, but it is also up against the bipartisan U.S.-China competition bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has threatened to put an end to the China bill if Democrats move forward with the Biden agenda package. McConnell doesn’t see it as reconciliation, he sees it as partisan.
McConnell published this on social media, “Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill.”
The Kentucky Republican also warned the Democrats not to ram through huge tax hikes on party lines. He reminded them that U.S. consumers have been hit with the highest levels of inflation in the last forty years.
Despite McConnell’s threat, Schumer and Manchin proposed an agreement to raise taxes on some high earners last week. So now we will be in the thick of debate on the final version of the vast China competitiveness bill, and all eyes will be on the GOP who support this measure that hopes to counter Beijing’s economic and geopolitical influence. People will be watching whether or not McConnell has the influence to abandon it.
Adding to the tension in the House this month is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to garner more votes to protect abortion rights. There’s great fervor for this since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Pelosi called this decision “appalling.”
She told her colleagues in a letter, “We will also pass legislation addressing the GOP’s disturbing threats to restrict Americans’ freedom to travel — reaffirming the Constitutional right to seek care freely and voluntarily throughout the country.”
The clock is ticking, and the hopes and dreams of the Democrats seem to be slipping away.