José Luis Magana / AP
President Biden signed a law to keep government funding until February 18, clearing the way for Congress to focus on a dreaded list of things to do at the end of the year.
Congress has less than three weeks to resolve disputes that have plagued both sides throughout the year.
Lawmakers are juggling must-haves, like the issue of the country’s borrowing authority and an annual defense clearances package, as well as major political priorities for Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has pledged to vote before Christmas on President Biden’s $ 2 trillion Build Back Better legislation.
“I have said many times before that no one should expect legislation of this magnitude to be easy,” Schumer said this week in the Senate. “We’ve been on the job for several months, but we need to step back and recognize that we’re, hopefully, less than a month away from acting on the biggest investment in the American people we’ve seen in years. generations. “
The legislation, which includes major investments in the social safety net and programs to combat climate change, was passed by the House last month. Senate Democrats are now awaiting an assessment from the non-partisan Senate parliamentarian before they can finalize their version of the bill.
Democrats have chosen to use a tool in the budget process known as reconciliation to try to push through Biden’s spending program without risking obstruction of the GOP. This process is accompanied by strict rules, including the requirement that all elements of the bill have a significant budgetary impact.
Senate leaders have warned that some policies included in the House version, such as plans to change national immigration laws, could be removed from the bill during the review process.
Once that job is done, Democrats will have to resume negotiations with skeptical Sens centrists. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema D-Ariz., Who have expressed concerns about everything from the overall cost of the bill to some specific policies. , such as paid family leave.
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans will need to work to resolve differences over changes to the National Defense Authorization Act and plans to increase the debt limit.