Tensions ebb as Democrats await the cost of social spending bill

Tensions ebb as Democrats await the cost of social spending bill

“I think people want it done before the end of the week,” said D-Texas Deputy Henry Cuellar, a moderate who has grumbled about certain policies but is expected to back the bill on the ground. “There are still some things I don’t like, but we’re going to look at it and then take it from there.”

Pelosi told members in a private meeting Monday night that the House would not leave before next week’s Thanksgiving recess without approving Biden’s bill and sending it to the Senate, according to people familiar with her comments.

Only one thing stands in the way of that vote now: a tax analysis of the bill. And as House Democrats in the caucus grow increasingly tired of the legislative grind, party leaders are increasingly confident they will win enough from the centrists to back the bill after the Congressional Budget Office releases its latest findings. That unbiased report, detailing how much of the bill has been paid, is expected by the end of the week.

Some of the House’s most fiscally conscious moderates are now predicting that the fiscal hurdle will be less thorny than expected. Several have personally commented that CBO’s findings should be “wild” off the grassroots to vote against the bill.

“My full expectation based on what the White House has told us, what the Treasury has told us, is that it will meet our expectations,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.), one of about six moderates who the budgetary guidance.

The CBO plans to release its tax estimate of the bill by Friday, although several senior Democrats said it could come as early as Thursday afternoon. Top Democrats also plan to “scrub” key policies into legislation they believe would violate Senate budget rules, likely leading to the removal of a controversial immigration provision that some Democrats on the battlefield for the mood uncomfortable.

That would put Democrats on track to get the mammoth bill on the ground before heading off into the week-long recess — a significantly faster turnaround than some in the caucus predicted a few weeks ago.

When asked if Biden’s plan would pass the House this week, Pelosi told reporters, “That would be our hope.”

“So far, so good,” Pelosi said of the CBO’s score of the legislation, adding that she believes the report will show it has been paid in full.

Democrats returned to Washington very optimistic about approving Biden’s broader spending plan, which would include subsidies for childcare, universal kindergarten, housing aid, climate initiatives and some relief from rising drug costs.

But they’re also keen to avoid the kind of overnight passage that capped the House tent infrastructure vote two weeks ago, which many in the party say buried one of the president’s highest points in months.

Dozens of Democrats got a taste of that sort of legislative victory earlier Monday, when busloads of lawmakers headed to the White House for a highly anticipated Rose Garden ceremony where Biden signed the infrastructure bill.

The social spending plan, the president’s other top priority, could now pass its first major legislative test on Friday, though it is poised to pass weeks of deliberation in the Senate. Senior Democrats hope they can pass the final draft of the bill — which some in the party are already predicting could be the most sweeping of Biden’s first term in office — by Christmas.

“Although [the ceremony] was about the dual infrastructure [bill], you heard Build Back Better and a clear message from leaders that we’re going to vote on it,” Representative Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said as she returned to the Capitol from the White House signing ceremony .

“We’ll make it happen,” Beatty said of a vote this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attended the White House ceremony with a promise to “build on today’s success by approving the rest of your Build Back Better Agenda in the coming weeks.”

But it’s unclear how soon the Senate will consider the social spending bill, especially given the resistance of moderate Senator Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat has repeatedly expressed reservations about the legislation, saying it could exacerbate the soaring inflation Americans are currently experiencing.

Manchin was noticeable on Monday after mom to alarm last week on the most recent record inflation data, pushing consumer prices soaring in October.

‘We’re going to talk to everyone. We look at everything,” Manchin said.

Complicating matters even more is that both chambers have a slew of other items on their December to-do list. Democratic leaders must face a looming debt crisis — which could be exacerbated by Biden’s newly signed infrastructure law — as well as a government funding deadline in the coming weeks.

This week, Pelosi and her leadership team are under intense pressure to approve their party’s social spending plan, having passed the infrastructure bill themselves earlier this month. Top Democrats had been pushing all year for the two bills to go together, though progressives eventually agreed to delay a vote on the broader domestic policy bill by two weeks. Their condition was for moderates to commit to vote on the broader legislation once they received budget data to allay concerns about the bill’s price tag.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus and helped negotiate the deal, Monday was confident that the CBO score would not be an obstacle.

“I think we got pretty clear guidance… that there was enough money to pay for this,” Jayapal said.

Nicholas Wu, Burgess Everett, Nancy Vu and Anthony Adragna contributed to this report.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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