Senate Democrats returned from their summer recess on Monday to confront divisions within the party over the scope and structure of a $ 3.5 trillion economic policy bill, as the House rushes to finish putting together the package in the coming weeks.
House Democrats have been pushing to consult around the details of the proposal, including releasing their opening proposal on Monday for tax increases on corporations and high net worth individuals, but a number of hurdles remain to be seen. overcome to ensure that the package can clear the chamber as early as this month. Democratic senators will likely use a caucus lunch on Tuesday to go over the work that was completed during the recess. House committees continue to regularly advance bills.
But the deep differences, including disagreement over the size and funding of the package, have been escalating for months. Democrats, with very slim majorities in both chambers, are using an obscure budget process known as reconciliation to shield the larger package from Republican obstruction in the Senate and push forward what could be the most important expansion social safety net since the 1960s.
The differences are most noticeable when it comes to the income provision, as moderate Democrats resist some of the sweeping tax increases proposed by Mr. Biden and the Liberal Democrats.
The House Democrats’ proposal would raise the corporate tax rate to 26.5% for the wealthiest businesses and impose an additional surtax on individuals earning more than $ 5 million. But it’s unclear how much that will change in the coming weeks, as people have informed details that the text may still change to get enough Democratic votes.
Key representatives from the opposing wings of the caucus appeared on several news broadcasts Sunday morning to defend their positions ahead of the return of the Senate.
West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III reiterated that he would not support the $ 3.5 trillion spending, saying Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York “will not have my vote “on a package of this size.
“Chuck knows it – we’ve talked about it,” Mr. Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “We’ve tried to help Americans in any way we can, and a lot of the help we’ve provided is still there, and it will be clear until next year, 2022, so what is the emergency?”
He also expressed skepticism that the legislation would be completed by the end of the month, adding that the rushed deadline “does not make sense” and expressed concern over certain tax and tax provisions. clean energy.
But when asked later about “the state of the union” on Mr Manchin’s comments, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who heads the budget committee, said “it doesn’t. is absolutely not acceptable to me ‘to reduce the size of the package.
“I don’t think this is acceptable to the president, to the American people or to the overwhelming majority of people in the Democratic caucus,” he added. “A lot of us made a major compromise by going from the $ 6 trillion bill that we wanted.”
California President Nancy Pelosi has pledged to vote Sept. 27 on the bipartisan infrastructure package in the House, and Democrats hope they will complete the second economic package by then. The Senate’s senior rule enforcement official has also started hearing arguments over whether certain provisions of the $ 3.5 trillion bill meet the strict rules that govern the reconciliation process.
Senior leaders will also soon face a possible cutoff in government funding on October 1 if Congress fails to act, as well as the looming deadline to prevent the federal government from defaulting on the national debt.