Washington – Republican senators blocked a bill Monday night to keep the government running and allow federal borrowing, but Democrats are likely to try again aimed at preventing a shutdown — as well as President Joe Biden’s government. To put pressure on bigger plans to reshape.
The efforts aren’t necessarily linked, but last Thursday’s fiscal year deadline to fund the government is clashing against Democrats’ willingness to make progress on Biden’s $3.5 trillion federal overhaul.
All of this is creating a difficult moment for Biden and his party, the consequences of which will certainly shape his presidency and his political future of lawmakers.
The success would mean a historic achievement, if Democrats can help pass Biden’s big bill. Failure — or the highly unlikely government shutdown and debt crisis — can derail careers.
“You know me, I’m a born optimist,” Biden told reporters on Monday, as he rolled up his sleeve for a COVID-19 booster shot. “We’re gonna get it done.”
In Monday night’s vote, senators voted 50-48 against taking the bill, far short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to move forward. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer finally changed his “yes” to “no” to allow Democrats to reconsider the bill later.
With days to go, Democrats are likely to try again before Thursday’s deadline to pass a bill that will fund government operations at the end of the September 30 fiscal year, limiting debt for another day. But the debate is set aside, closer to a different October deadline.
Meanwhile, real action is unfolding behind the scenes of a more than $3.5 trillion measure, with Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress demanding a once-in-a-generation rework of the nation’s balance sheet.
From fee pre-kindergarten and child care subsidies for families with young children to dental and hearing aids for seniors with Medicare, the president’s proposal has a lot to offer — all to be paid for with high taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Is.
With strong opposition from Republicans, Democrats are racing to cut the total within their own party and win holdouts.
Building on a separate $1 trillion bipartisan public works package that has already been approved by the Senate and headed for a House vote, Biden is calling for bigger spending for health care, education and efforts to tackle climate change. . He argues that the total price tag is actually “zero” – covered by the expected increase in tax revenue.
He is personally calling on fellow Democrats in Congress to work out differences and bring forward his broader domestic policy approach.
As for completing the crucial list of goals, Biden said: “If we do that, the country will be in a very good position.”
But Republicans say this is real spending that cannot be afforded, and is a reflection of the Democrats’ campaign to put government in the lives of the people.
And so far, the bill is too big for major Democrats, whose votes are needed before the GOP opposition. Two Democratic holdouts, West Virginia’s Sans Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kirsten Cinema, have said they would not support a bill of that size. Munchkin previously proposed spending from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.
With opposition from all Republicans, Democratic leaders can’t spare a single vote in the 50-50 Senate, relying on Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie to pass the final package.
All this, as other deadlines roll around this week to pay for government actions, allow for more borrowing or risk a catastrophic federal shutdown or loan default – though those dire scenarios are unlikely.
The bill Senate Republicans rejected on Monday night would have temporarily funded government operations in early December, while also providing emergency funding for Hurricane Ida and other disaster relief and for Afghan refugees after the 20-year war. would have done.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell rejected that approach because Democrats included a provision to suspend debt limits, which would allow the country to continue borrowing to pay bills.
Once a routine affair, raising the debt limit is now a political weapon of choice by Republicans to attack Democrats – even though both parties have been responsible for piling on the debt.
“Democrats will do the responsible thing – the right thing, the work that has been done by both parties for decades, and vote yes,” said majority leader Schumer before the vote.
Schumer called the Republican opposition “rude.”
McConnell has said he wants to fund the government and prevent a catastrophic loan default, but wants to force Democrats to split the package in two and take the politically uneasy debt ceiling vote on their own.
“Republicans are not implicated for shutdowns or debt limit violations,” he said.
Thursday is a new deadline, and Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer won some breathing space when Pelosi postponed Monday’s planned vote on the public works bill to Thursday. Transportation programs also have an end date.
As Pelosi met privately with House Democrats on Monday, more difficult action now lies in the Senate, as Democrats are under pressure to gather votes for Biden’s package.
Pelosi said on Sunday it appeared “self-evident” that the price tag would be reduced to meet the concerns of the remaining lawmakers.
His comments reflected the heavy stakes for the coming week, which could define the Biden presidency and shape the political framework for next year’s midterm elections.
Democrats have only a few votes in the House for Biden’s massive agenda. Some Republican senators backed the $1 trillion public works bill, but now House Republicans are objecting, saying it is too much.
While progressives say they have already reached substantial agreement on Biden’s big bill, coming down from a bill they originally envisioned at $6 trillion, some are acknowledging even more potential changes.
Biden’s proposal is to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5% on businesses earning more than $5 million a year, and to raise the top rate on individuals for those earning more than $400,000. To increase from 37% to 39.6%. years, or $450,000 for couples.
While Democrats largely agree on Biden’s approach – many have run their campaigns on long-time party priorities – stubborn controversy remains. Among them are divisions into which initiatives should be reshaped, including how to move toward clean energy or lowering the cost of medicines.
Associated Press writers Hope Yen and Alan Fram contributed to this report.