Panel approves Dems' $3.5T bill; critical time for Biden agenda

Democrats pushed a 10-year, $3.5 trillion bill to strengthen social safety nets and climate programs through Congress on Saturday. However, one Democrat opposed it. This is a reminder of the difficulties party leaders face in obtaining the near unanimous support they need to push this sprawling package through Congress.

Panel approves Dems' $3.5T bill; critical time for Biden agenda

The measure was approved by the Democratic-dominated panel virtually on a 20-17 vote. The passage of the measure marked a minor but necessary check on a procedure box for Democrats, bringing it closer to full House debate. The committee was not allowed to make significant amendments to the 2,465-page measure. It was the result of 13 other House Committees.

The most important work has been done in an opaque process of mostly unannounced phone conversations, meetings and other bargaining session between party leaders and rank and file lawmakers. The President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), and Chuck Schumer (Senate Majority Leader), have been leading a hunt behind the scenes for compromises that would resolve internal divisions. They hope to get approval of the massive bill soon.

Scott Peters (D-Calif.), a moderate representative, voted against the legislation along with all 16 Republicans. He was one of three Democrats to vote against the plan that most members of his party favored to lower pharmaceutical prices by letting Medicare negotiate for prescription drugs.

The final price tag of the package, which appears to be shrinking, has been a topic of dispute among Democrats for weeks. Party leaders tried to reach an agreement with Democrats for weeks. There is also disagreement over which of the package's initiatives should be modified, including expanded Medicare and tax breaks for children.

Compromism is required because of the thin majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate. The measure will not reach the House floor until Saturday's Budget panel approves it. It is likely that the bill will be modified to reflect any House-Senate agreements. Additional revisions are possible.

The bill's overall purpose is to achieve Biden's domestic top goals. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the Budget Panel, gave the reason for the legislation: "Decades of disinvestment" in areas such as health care, education and the environment.

"The futures and well-being of millions of Americans are at risk. We cannot afford to continue to neglect and act inaction. Yarmuth stated that now is the time to act.

Republicans claim the proposal is unnecessary and unaffordable in light of federal debts exceeding $28 trillion. It also reflects Democrats' desire to inject government into people's daily lives. They claimed that the tax increases will result in fewer jobs and credit for electric vehicle purchases, which are often made by people who have comfortable incomes.

Rep. Jason Smith, Missouri's top Republican on the committee, stated that "this bill is a disaster to working-class families." It's a giveaway for the wealthy. It's a laundry-list of agenda items straight out of Bernie Sanders' socialist playbook.

This unusual session took place as top Democrats intensified efforts to resolve bitter disputes between the party’s progressive and centrist wings, which threaten to undermine Biden’s agenda.

Friday's announcement by Biden that talks between Democrats were in a "stalemate" despite the fact that Pelosi, Schumer and other Democrats have shown more optimism in their apparent efforts to create momentum and ease differences. The possibility of his party collapsing would be a devastating preview of the next election year in which Senate and House control will be at stake.

Pelosi pledged to start House consideration of a second pillar of Biden’s domestic plans Monday, namely a $1 trillion collection for road and other infrastructure projects. This was in order to win moderate support for the earlier budget blueprint. Pelosi reiterated this week that the debate on infrastructure would start Monday.

Many moderates, however, who see the infrastructure bill as their top goal, also want to reduce the $3.5 trillion social-environment package and trim or reshape certain programs. Sens. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) were among the most prominent centrists requesting a lower price.

Progressives, whose top priority is the $3.5 billion measure, threatened to vote against the infrastructure bill if it came up for a vote in this week's election. Their opposition appears to be sufficient to stop it. Pelosi has not yet stated when the final vote on the infrastructure measure will take place.

Top Democrats are using this moment to speed up talks on massive climate and social legislation. Each party is threatening to undermine the other's most important goal, a political disaster for Democrats. Because the party cannot lose any votes in the Senate, and only three in the House, compromise is required to win in narrowly divided Congress.

Biden met this week with more than 20 congressional Democrats. Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that such meetings would continue next Wednesday.

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