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Senior House Democrats concede likely scale-back of $3.5 trillion Biden spending bill

EconomySep 19, 2021 12:36PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An American flag flies outside of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

By David Lawder and Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democrats said on Sunday that they will likely need to scale back President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending bill while passage of the linked bipartisan infrastructure bill may slip past a Sept. 27 deadline.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also may delay sending the $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure after House passage to the White House for Biden's signature until the larger spending bill passes, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth told "Fox News Sunday" - a move aimed to ensure that moderate Democrats support the bill.

Their comments illustrate the difficult path Democrats face in passing Biden’s sweeping agenda with razor-thin majorities and staunch Republican opposition. Tempers are high within the Democratic caucus, with moderate and progressive wings of the party sharply divided over the scale of spending.

Democrats also face looming October deadlines to fund the government and raise the federal debt ceiling. Failures on either part could deal a blow to the economy and hurt the party's standing with voters.

Asked about the amount of the "reconciliation" tax-hike and spending bill on childcare, education and green energy, Yarmuth said he expects that the bill's top line number "will be somewhat less than $3.5 trillion."

Representative James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, told CNN that the number could be lower.

"So it may be $3.5 (trillion), it may be really close to that or maybe closer to something else. So I think that we ought to really focus on the American people to think about what takes to get us in a good place and then let the numbers take care of themselves," Clyburn said on the "State of the Union" program.

Democrats aim to pass the massive spending plan without Republican support under budget reconciliation rules and cannot afford to lose any Democratic votes in the Senate and only three votes in the House.

Moderate Senate Democrats including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema say $3.5 trillion is too much; Manchin suggests spending less than half that. Meanwhile, some progressives Democrats in the House say they cannot support a bill with lower spending levels aimed at bolstering the middle class.

Clyburn said that "it's going to take some work" to bring Democrats together to support a bill, but added "I believe in our party and our leadership."

The $3.5 trillion spending package https://www.reuters.com/world/us/paid-leave-clean-energy-preschool-democrats-35-trln-plan-2021-08-09 aims to support American families with free community college, universal preschool, an extended Child Tax Credit and investments in clean energy. But it also comes with major proposed tax hikes https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-biden-infrastructure-taxes/factbox-key-elements-of-u-s-house-democrats-tax-hike-plans-to-fund-biden-spending-idUSKBN2G922S on the wealthy and corporations.

Pelosi has sought to delay House passage of bipartisan infrastructure bill as leverage to ensure that moderate Democrats support the social spending bill. But House Democrats set a Sept. 27 deadline for passage of the infrastructure bill as part of a budget resolution and the larger spending bill is not yet ready for vote.

Yarmuth said the infrastructure bill could still pass, but leverage could be preserved if Pelosi holds it back from Biden's desk and signing it into law.

He said that this can be done under legislative rules. "She can hold on to that bill for a while. So there's some flexibility in terms of how we mesh the two mandates."

Yarmuth said the Sept. 27 deadline would likely be missed, with passage of the infrastructure bill slipping "sometime into early October would be my best guess."

Yarmuth said he would also advocate folding a debt ceiling hike into a normal appropriations measure or the reconciliation plan, but "I don't think that decision has been made yet. We have several options for raising the debt ceiling, which is absolutely mandatory."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said his party will not support a debt ceiling increase, even though the Treasury has warned that it will exhaust its cash and borrowing capacity sometime in October, leaving the U.S. government unable to pay all of its obligations.

Senior House Democrats concede likely scale-back of $3.5 trillion Biden spending bill
 

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Comments (6)
Festus Morrison
Festus Morrison Sep 20, 2021 3:45AM ET
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why do you say that
Solomon Lalani
Solomon Sep 19, 2021 3:44PM ET
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No GOP member ever blinks an eye when they have to give money to riches of the Wall Street.  But they do not want to give even a cent to the citizens of the United States!
Daniel Hall
Daniel Hall Sep 19, 2021 3:44PM ET
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it does not belong to man to even direct his own step
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 19, 2021 3:44PM ET
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Brady Murray
Brady Murray Sep 19, 2021 3:26PM ET
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Complete garbage bill. Waste of money. Fleecing of the poor continues
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Sep 19, 2021 1:41PM ET
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It is good for a Government to KNOW its limitations. (-$28,000,000,000,000).
Roman Sheveloff
Roman Sheveloff Sep 19, 2021 1:23PM ET
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No wars, people not dying in the streets. Expenditures on war is dozen times less than what happen in past 2 years over virus with 99.9 % survival rate world wide. Stupid is as stupid does.
Millennial Metals
Millennial Metals Sep 19, 2021 1:19PM ET
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The US government is literally broke and relying on bond purchases via printed money
 
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