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Chuck Schumer thinks big – deadlock Senate be damned

The personal stake he has in this political moment cannot be underestimated: having passed the presidency of Donald Trump at the head of a minority which has been trampled by massive tax cuts from the GOP and three judges Supreme Court conservatives, Schumer is seeking re-election next year as one of a trio of Democratic leaders who could rack up achievements rivaling FDR’s New Deal.

That is if they can achieve their next much more difficult legislative feat by plunging more than $ 2 trillion in new spending into the economy, while also undoing Trump-era tax cuts. And Schumer is already selling the idea to his caucus and to the American public.

Sustained and meaningful growth in jobs, wages and productivity would “change America,” Schumer said by phone as he visited counties in New York this week. “America’s sunny optimism would return and the acidity in the country – because people worry about their futures – would dissipate.

Of course, even with these enticing possibilities before them, Democrats have never been easy to lead. That’s why Schumer tries to keep the momentum going, knowing that the risk of an internal quagmire is always a possibility.

The Senate parliamentarian has signaled that he may be able to avoid GOP obstructionists on several occasions in Congress, which could allow him to pass several high-profile economic bills and revamp the way majorities exercise. their power in the room. Whatever package he may adopt, he is almost certain to include his electric vehicle plan, as well as his efforts to adopt hawkish policies towards China that Schumer sought unsuccessfully in the Trump era, which has a potential for membership of the GOP as an autonomous.

A political fighter and sometimes a negotiator, as the leader of the majority, Schumer speaks in confident generalities like “failure is not an option,” appeasing progressives and avoiding confrontations with his moderates. The word ‘bold’ is never far from his mind as it charts the course for a disjointed majority that does not have the votes to change the obstruction, but is also united around Biden’s success, as the said Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) there.

Schumer was able to convince Manchin to take a partisan approach to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus law after numerous dramas during the eleventh hour. But its next round of legislation will be tougher than the Covid emergency package, which has been reversed on a tight schedule due to the expiration of unemployment benefits.

“It’s going to be a big challenge. Everyone is going to have different points of view, “Schumer admitted.” But the good thing about the Biden administration is that they are very receptive to listening. “

Already, Manchin has criticized the bill’s higher corporate tax rates and said half a dozen Democrats want to reshape the broader proposal. Although Schumer has memorized the phone number of White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and speaks frequently to Biden and senior officials, the grassroots Democrats who helped build Schumer’s majority also want their say.

“Chuck does a great job of keeping a very disparate caucus together, you know, but we all have different ideas,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Centrist Warner said he has yet to have a chance to help shape Biden’s plans. But the fingerprints of the majority leader are everywhere on the Democratic agenda. Schumer was among Democrats pushing Biden to increase his coronavirus spending bill with more money for entertainment venues, states and cities, and public transportation – all crucial to New York and on his way to a fifth term.

And during last summer’s campaign, Schumer began submitting his clean car bill to Biden’s campaign political adviser. After Biden won the White House in November, Schumer continued to lobby to ensure that President’s Build Back Better proposal included major provisions to phase out gasoline automobiles, according to a source close to the interactions.

Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, called Schumer an “extraordinary partner” for Biden.

Schumer “is working tirelessly and competently with the full breadth of the diverse Democratic caucus on landmark legislation to defeat the pandemic and turn our economy around,” Bates said. Biden “values ​​their shared values ​​and sees their relationship as essential in restoring trust in government.”

For now, Schumer’s laws on China and electric cars appear popular enough to survive the next few weeks of bargaining – at least among Democrats.

“There is never a guarantee; I’ll work hard to see. And I was glad the Biden administration understood them both. And I think they have a lot of support, ”Schumer said. On China’s package, he added, GOP Sen. “Todd Young is my sponsor, and he works hard on the Republican side, and we talk all the time.”

Young (R-Ind.) Takes a different view, warning Schumer not to put their legislation in a reconciliation package. Schumer has congressional committees working on their Chinese legislation and hopes to produce a work product – and a vote on the ground – this spring. But if that fails, he could try to unilaterally pass a Chinese Falcon Law.

“Taking a partisan tax proposal and spending and adding a bipartisan bill doesn’t make it any less partisan. When negotiating the Endless Frontier Law, Senator Young always warned that adding non-Chinese provisions would end any hope of Republican support. Even his, ”said a spokesperson for Indianan Young.

On electric cars, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) complains that Biden’s package focuses more on them than on “traditional infrastructure” like roads and bridges. For Republicans, she said, it’s a “signal that this is being used as a vehicle for parts of the Green New Deal and massive political changes, rather than modernizing and rebuilding our infrastructure.”

For Schumer, this is precisely the goal.

“I say yes. We need both. This bill does both. It has one of the most important traditional infrastructure funding. [numbers] that we’ve seen for a long time, and it recognizes the new “breed of infrastructure,” he said. The link between the two is employment. “

Republicans feel the Democrats are gearing up to lose the House and Senate and are rushing to pass as much as they can ahead of what is historically a tough midterm election for the majority party.

But Schumer isn’t ready to see the current multi-trillion-dollar Biden push like the coda into the most fertile period of the legislation. In addition to his multiple attempts to pass big legislation over the next 18 months, he has important work to do to reclaim the judiciary after McConnell turns the courts into a conservative power.

“We will continue to work until mid-session day,” Schumer said. “We have a lot to do.”

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