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Eleven liberal Senate Democrats are urging their House counterparts to postpone passage of bipartisan infrastructure legislation until Congress passes a massive social welfare spending package.
“The House of Representatives should wait to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and 10 other liberal Democrats said in a statement Wednesday.
The House plans to take up the infrastructure package next week. The $1.2 trillion measure provides funding for roads, bridges, water projects, and expanded broadband. It passed the Senate with bipartisan support earlier this summer.
President Biden is eager to sign it into law, and doing so would provide a much-needed legislative victory for the party and his administration. Polls indicate that infrastructure spending enjoys significant public support.
But Sanders and other liberal Democrats say the move would undercut a deal to consider the infrastructure bill on a dual track with a $3.5 trillion social welfare spending package that is struggling to win the backing of party centrists.
House liberals are now threatening to block the infrastructure package from passing next week. Sanders and his liberal Senate colleagues encouraged them to vote against it.
“This is what we agreed to, it’s what the American people want and it’s the only path forward for this congress,” the group said in a statement.
Sanders was among a group of centrist and liberal Senators slated to meet with Biden Wednesday to try to broker a deal on the social welfare spending package. Centrists want to lower the cost and make changes to plans to raise taxes and negotiate prescription drug prices.
Democratic leaders could not provide a time frame for when the legislation might be ready for consideration.
The bill would provide a wide array of new government entitlements, including free community college, free preschool, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits, new child tax credits, and much more.
The Senate Democrats said in the statement the party must stick together to ensure both bills pass, not just the infrastructure bill.
“We voted for the bipartisan bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track,” the senators said in the statement. “Abandoning the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act and passing the infrastructure bill first would be in violation of that agreement.”
In addition to Sanders, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Alex Padilla of California, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island signed the statement.
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Liberal Senate Democrats urge House to postpone critical infrastructure vote