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A top House Democrat said Tuesday the party plans to meet a Halloween deadline to advance a massive spending package but hedged on whether they would be successful, telling reporters “it’s very tough” to cut the price tag to meet the demands of centrists.
“It's very tough,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, acknowledged following weeks of stalled intraparty negotiations that have so far failed to lead to an accord. “We have to reduce the dollars, because we can't pass the president's proposed dollars, or the Senate's hypothesis of dollars they want to use. And so we're gonna have to use a lower number."
Democrats are attempting to bridge a wide gap between the $3.5 trillion social welfare spending package they initially hoped to pass into law and the much lower cost centrists are seeking. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, set a $1.5 trillion cap and is also working to strip out key provisions long sought by liberals on green energy policy and entitlements.
“We are making choices and choices are tough,” Hoyer said. “But we need to move both those bills forward.
Top Democrats have set an Oct. 31 deadline to advance the bill along with a bipartisan infrastructure package that makes up the second half of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better economic agenda. Biden, coping with sagging poll numbers, is eager to claim a big legislative victory. The infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate, but liberal House Democrats are blocking it until they win a favorable deal on the social welfare package.
Reporters asked Hoyer about meeting the deadline, which is less than two weeks away. Hoyer said Democrats have not given up on meeting the deadline.
He told reporters, “We're committed to meeting the deadline of October 31. We're working very hard to have both of those bills ready to be passed by the House of Representatives before that date."
But he suggested Democrats may not reach a deal in time.
“Success on October 31 for me will be passing the Build Back Better Act to the Senate and passing [the infrastructure bill] to the President. That will be success,” Hoyer said. “Now, if we make significant progress, that also be success towards those things, and we're working very hard to get there.”
President Joe Biden this week is meeting with the warring centrist and liberal Democrats to try to broker a faster deal.
On Monday, Manchin met with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and socialist who has publicly criticized Manchin for refusing to back the $3.5 trillion plan.
The two walked out from the Senate on Monday evening arm-in-arm but left in separate cars.
“We’re talking,” each lawmaker told reporters.
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Top Democrat: ‘Very tough’ reaching spending deal