Reconciliation bill includes left-wing goodies as Democratic majority expected to slip away

Reconciliation bill includes left-wing goodies as Democratic majority expected to slip away
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Immigration is infrastructure. Climate change is infrastructure. Much of the liberal agenda is infrastructure.

While the final price tag is below some of the proposals floated by the most liberal Democrats in Congress, this is the approach President Joe Biden’s party is landing on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill they hope to pass on their own without any Republican votes.

Democrats are going big and going it alone, hoping to get the new package across the finish line, courtesy of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote in the Senate.

KAMALA IN CRISIS

Democrats have pushed through big changes by small margins before. President Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increase passed by one vote in the House and got through the Senate by Vice President Al Gore breaking a tie.

Obamacare passed the House by a vote of 220-215. However, the version that advanced the Senate through reconciliation, the same budgetary process Democrats plan to employ to pass their partisan infrastructure bill while negating a Republican filibuster, attracted all 59 Democratic votes.

But in both those cases, the Democrats' congressional majorities were much bigger, leaving them with more votes to spare. This time around, they can afford few defections in the House and none in the Senate, which is why all eyes are on centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Democrats control the House with 220 seats compared to Republicans' 211. The Senate is split 50-50, with Harris giving Democrats the power to organize the chamber.

But Clinton and former President Barack Obama enjoyed three-fifths Democratic majorities.

“Past legislative fights might be instructive, but there's not that much precedent for a party trying to pass almost its entire domestic agenda in one gigantic mega-bill with 50 votes and zero margin for error,” tweeted NBC News's Benjy Sarlin. “We're in pretty uncharted territory.”

While Democrats pursue the partisan reconciliation bill, they are also trying to advance a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework agreed upon by the Biden White House, nearly a dozen Republican senators, and centrist Democrats.

But a second Democrats-only bill containing much of the spending that was stripped out as part of the bipartisan compromise could also jeopardize this framework, especially if Republicans feel duped.

Some conservatives oppose the bipartisan framework, despite its emphasis on traditional physical infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges, arguing it spends more money amid an overheating economy with rising inflation.

“The $1.2 trillion package was already troubling, but now that Democrats have tied it to the larger, far-Left reconciliation package, no Republican should support either part of this package,” said Heritage Action executive director Jessica Anderson in a statement. “The Left has acted in bad faith and no Senator should feel an obligation to play into their charade.”

Democrats counter that the bipartisan framework only features $579 billion in new spending, with the total only exceeding $1 trillion when added to the baseline over eight years. Progressives had pushed proposals with price tags between $6 trillion and $10 trillion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, pledged to move forward with both packages.

“The time has come to make progress. And we will,” he said Thursday on the Senate floor.

Democrats and Republicans have haggled over the definition of “infrastructure” since Biden was elected.

Conservatives have already zeroed in on some provisions of the reconciliation bill that seem far afield from infrastructure to sway centrist Democrats, whose votes are needed for passage.

One such provision would fund a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

“It is clear to people in West Virginia that amnesty for illegal aliens has no place in a bill to upgrade our nation's infrastructure,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in a statement announcing a poll suggesting Manchin’s constituents disapprove of the immigration component. “Illegal aliens can in no reasonable way be construed as infrastructure and people of all political stripes have a visceral objection to gimmicking Senate rules to enact social policies, like a massive amnesty, that could never gain passage on their own merits.”

“It is if you are building a wall!” said Republican strategist John Feehery on whether immigration policy is related to infrastructure. “Otherwise, no.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had a one-word answer when asked if the Biden administration supported the pathway's inclusion at Thursday's briefing: "Yep."

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE IN THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Biden and congressional Democrats are hoping to enact as much of their agenda as possible this year before they must focus on midterm elections.

Based on historical precedent, as Republicans control the redistricting process in key states and a cluster of issues that could cause problems for Biden’s party at the ballot box, Democrats will have a difficult time maintaining their razor-thin majorities.

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Tags: News, White House, Joe Biden, Infrastructure, Immigration, Joe Manchin

Original Author: W. James Antle III

Original Location: Reconciliation bill includes left-wing goodies as Democratic majority expected to slip away

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