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Centrist Democrats win concessions ahead of budget vote

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A faction of centrist Democrats forced their liberal-leaning caucus to make key commitments ahead of a vote on a massive social spending framework expected Tuesday.

House Democrats have set an afternoon vote on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that will serve as a framework for massive social spending legislation later this year.

But Democratic leaders first pledged to a group of 10 centrist Democrats that they will bring up a smaller infrastructure package worth $1.2 trillion and vote on it by the end of September.

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Democratic leaders also pledged they will align a $3.5 trillion social spending package with the Senate in order to avoid forcing House Democrats to vote on a bill that is too costly and broad to pass in the upper chamber, where centrists want spending reined in.

“To us, that is important — that we are working in parallel with the Senate,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday.

Cuellar and other centrists said they wanted to avoid a repeat of 2010, when House Democrats, then in the majority, voted and passed top liberal agenda items that were subsequently ignored by the Senate, among them a measure pricing carbon emissions that was politically damaging to swing-district Democrats.

Democrats had hoped to pass a rule governing debate on both the budget resolution and the infrastructure bill on Monday night. The rule would also set the terms for a debate on legislation expanding federal oversight of elections.

But negotiations dragged on until Tuesday after centrists demanded more concrete commitments from Democratic leaders, including language in Tuesday's vote that requires consideration of the infrastructure by late September.

The infrastructure bill passed the Senate earlier this summer. It was negotiated between a bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden. The measure funds road, bridge, and waterway projects as well as broadband expansion and electric vehicle charging stations.

Centrists appear poised to back off a demand that the House first pass the infrastructure plan before taking up the budget resolution.

The plan allows the centrists to escape voting directly on the $3.5 trillion resolution by deeming it passed in Tuesday's resolution without separately debating or voting on it.

Republicans balked at the maneuver, arguing it circumvents an important debate and direct vote on what could become the largest spending measure ever passed in Congress. The spending plan would fund free community college, free universal daycare, paid family leave, expanded Medicare, an extension of the child tax credit, and many new green energy provisions, among other benefits.

“Everyone ought to have the opportunity to vote yes or no on a measure of this magnitude,” Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said.

House Democrats face an internal division over the party’s spending agenda that leaders are eager to pass while they control both Congress and the White House.

Liberals want the $3.5 trillion budget resolution to grow when lawmakers hammer out the legislation later this summer.

Centrists say it should shrink, among them Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who cite the nation's deficit and inflation fears.

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Centrist House Democrats say the Senate will ultimately dictate the terms of the package because the party controls only 50 votes and needs every Democrat to vote for the bill. The Senate must also adhere to special rules governing what can be included in the legislation if it is to pass with just a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cuellar said, has pledged to align negotiations with the Senate.

“She has actually said that twice, and she’s going to say it again,” Cuellar said.

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Tags: News, Congress, Budget, Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats, Infrastructure

Original Author: Susan Ferrechio

Original Location: Centrist Democrats win concessions ahead of budget vote

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