Internal battles escalate over Biden agenda

Democrats are gearing up their next moves on a sweeping social spending program that pushes a large chunk of President BidenJoe BidenMcConnell promises GOP won’t help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer Ilhan Omar’s ‘tantrum’ to Biden: ‘Keep your promise to cancel student debt’ vaccine for children MOREof the economic agenda, but they will also have to resolve several internal battles that are starting to intensify.

Democrats in Congress are refocusing their attention on the so-called human infrastructure proposal now that Senate passage of a short-term debt limitation bill is in the rearview mirror. Lawmakers say the debt ceiling deal that resulted in a Senate vote Thursday night allows Democrats to spend their time on all spending.

“Senate Democrats will focus on passing [the] Build Back Better so that we can finally build ladders of opportunity for people to move up the middle class, help people already in the middle class stay there, fight climate change and create the well-paying jobs of tomorrow and rekindle that sunny American optimism that has long been central to our national identity, ”said the Senate Majority Leader. Charles SchumerChuck Schumer Parts of Manchin’s Voting Act You Haven’t Heard Of The Hill’s Morning Report – Featured By Facebook – After Big Drama, Senate Raises Debt Limit Trump Urges GOP Senators To Vote Against the McConnell PLUS Debt Agreement (DN.Y.) said Thursday in the Senate.

For the spending program to pass, it will need the support of nearly every member of the party’s House as well as every Democratic senator. This promises to be a significant challenge, with moderates and progressives diverging on several key points.

Democrats disagree on a wide variety of issues, ranging from the overall size of the package to the outlines of the spending programs and tax cuts in the bill and the sources of revenue that will be used to pay for the legislation.

Here’s a look at five of the biggest fights.

Prescription drugs

Three Democrats voted against the part of a House committee’s spending program that would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug prices, a clear sign that this is a issue on which Democrats have yet to reach consensus.

The three nons of the representatives. Kurt schraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt Schrader Moderate Democrat says he cannot support House spending plan “in its current form” Club for Growth urges Democrats on the front line on reconciliation plan The Hill – Presented by Facebook – The chaotic sprint of voting on Pelosi’s infrastructure PLUS (Ore.), Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura Rice Moderate Democrat Says He Cannot Support House Spending Plan ‘In Its Present Form’ Lawmakers Use Leadership PACs As ‘Slush’ To Live Lavish Lifestyles: House Report Adopts debt ceiling suspended as GOP stalemate deepens MORE (NY) and Scott petersScott H. Peters Moderate Democrat Says He Cannot Support House Spending Plan “In Its Present Form” LIVE COVER: Biden Tries To Unify Divided House Sanders, Manchin and Sinema Fight Proxy War in the PLUS Room (California) meant that drug pricing legislation had not progressed through the House Energy and Commerce committee, although provisions did so through the Ways and Means committee. from the room.

Drug price negotiations have long been a priority for many Democrats looking to lower drug costs, and polls show the idea is popular with the public. The reduction in drug costs would also result in savings for the federal government that Democrats want to use to help offset the cost of spending programs in their bill.

But Schrader, Peters and Rice fear that the proposal under consideration in the Energy and Trade Committee will hurt the innovative capacity of pharmaceutical companies. Lawmakers support a less ambitious drug pricing bill.

Senate Democrats are also working on drug pricing legislation that is not as broad as the main House proposal.

Extension of health insurance

Extending Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing care is a top priority for a number of Democrats, especially progressives. But the cost of doing so, along with the preference of other Democrats to focus more on strengthening ObamaCare, creates significant hurdles for the party.

Legislation approved by the Ways and Means Committee last month would start vision coverage in 2022 and hearing coverage in 2023, but would not start the dental portion until 2028. The delayed start date has attracted attention. attention from both. progressives, including the senator Bernie sandersBernie SandersSeattle-area lawmakers say their colleague’s campaign flyer is racist, ‘horrible’ Sanders alumni launch progressive society ‘Bernie Biden’ and its misguided agenda for America MORE (I-Vt.), And some moderates who see delay as a budget gimmick.

Some moderates argue strengthening ObamaCare should be a higher priority than expanding Medicare, and key Senate centrist Joe manchinJoe ManchinMcConnell promises GOP will not help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer ‘tantrum’ (DW.Va.) said he believes Medicare’s financial situation should be strengthened before the program is extended.

“I want to make sure that we stabilize what we have before we start taking on this expansion role”, Manchin said last month.

Clean electricity

Many Democrats see the social package as a unique opportunity to spend big on climate change.

A major climate provision proposed by House Democrats would create a clean electricity performance program, through which the Department of Energy would grant subsidies to electricity providers who meet certain targets and impose fines on providers who do not. ” insufficiently increase their quantity of clean electricity to customers. .

But Manchin, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, criticized the House’s proposal to effectively exclude natural gas that does not use carbon-capture technology from its definition of clean electricity.

Manchin also criticized the proposal more broadly, saying it would bring benefits to companies that are already in the process of switching to clean electricity. He has indicated that he would prefer the federal government to provide loans to utilities rather than grants.

Hyde Amendment

Another area of ​​disagreement between Manchin and other Democrats is the Hyde Amendment, which generally prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions.

Manchin wants the amendment included in a provision that would create a program to expand Medicaid in states that have not done so under ObamaCare. But Democrats are increasingly pushing to remove the Hyde Amendment.

It is not clear whether the Hyde Amendment, which is typically part of appropriation bills, should be added to the social spending program to prevent Medicaid’s new expansion program from being able to fund abortions.

Biden has said he will support the final spending program whether or not the Hyde Amendment is included. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Biden initially indicated his support for the Hyde Amendment but quickly reversed his position.


Many Democrats in high-tax states see changes to the National and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) cap as a staple in the spending program. But the cost of the cap changes and the benefits for high income taxpayers have their opponents within the party.

Republicans created a cap of $ 10,000 on the SALT deduction as part of their 2017 tax law. The cap has been challenged by lawmakers in Democratic-leaning states such as New York, New Jersey and California, which say the limit is hurting their residents and their states’ ability to provide robust services.

Some of these lawmakers, such as Rep. Thomas Suozzi (DN.Y.) and Senator. Bob menendezRobert (Bob) MenendezRand Paul blocks quick vote on B Iron Dome funding passed by House Senate parliamentarian rules out B Biden Democrats’ immigration plan, don’t punish India MORE (DN.J.), indicated that SALT ceiling changes must be included in the social spending program for the measure to get their vote.

But some progressives, including Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIlhan Omar to Biden: “Keep Your Promise to Cancel Student Debt” Black Virginia lawmakers slam Republicans for flyers portraying them as puppets Erosion of congressional support for Israel is cause for alarm MORE (DN.Y.), do not want to repeal the cap entirely as it would go a long way to helping high income households. Repealing the cap is also costly, and the centrists are seeking to reduce the amount of spending and tax cuts in the bill.

As a sign of how difficult the SALT deduction issue is for Democrats, the cap changes were not included in the bill introduced by the Ways and Means Committee last month, but key lawmakers have indicated that the question is always a priority.

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