Democrats will race through a series of votes on Capitol Hill Thursday as they rush to fund the government ahead of a midnight shutdown deadline and the House tees up a vote on Joe Biden‘s infrastructure plan.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced his party’s support for the funding measure after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acquiesced to GOP demands to remove language raising the debt ceiling.
‘Today, the Senate will consider and pass a government funding bill and do our part to avoid a shutdown,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor.
While that crisis appears to be averted, another one is still playing out.
Biden’s plan for trillions of dollars to overhaul the way the government works is in doubt as the president was unable to cut a deal with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
The two want him to trim back his ambitious $3.5 trillion budget package that would provide free pre-K, expanded paid family and medical leave and a series of programs to fight climate change.
But progressives in the House said they won’t support the $1.1 trillion infrasture deal – expected to be voted on Thursday – without a guarantee from Manchin and Sinema of their support for the budget package.
Top administration officials were trying to down play expectations.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN: ‘It’s not some major cataclysm if there isn’t a vote today.’
But Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol Thursday morning the vote was on track to proceed that day.
‘That is our plan,’ she said. When asked about the odds for passage getting tougher she responded: ‘Hour by hour, moment by moment.’
Mitch McConnell announced GOP support for the bill after Schumer acquiesced to GOP demands to remove language raising the debt ceiling
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the plan was to vote in the House on Thursday for President Biden’s infrastructure bill even as liberal Democrats threaten to with hold their support
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the Capitol on Thursday as lawmakers face a midnight deadline to fund the government
President Joe Biden (right) was spotted on the phone during the Congressional Baseball Game as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cheers on the Democrats’ team
Pelosi was seen above the Democrat dugout speaking on the phone as the clock ticked on the shutdown and Biden’s agenda
DEMOCRATS’ LAST-MINUTE DEAL TO AVOID A SHUTDOWN: THE TERMS
- Keeps the government operating at current levels until December 3.
- Provides $28.6 billion to disaster reliefs after Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana and the North East.
- Provides $6.3 billion to Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S. after fleeing Kabul as the Taliban took power.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats will be able to extend government funding because they are following a GOP roadmap.
- He criticized the lack of funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and said it’s ‘baffling’ that Israel has ‘become a thorny subject for the political left’.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal on Wednesday night and said ‘we are ready to move forward’.
With a margin of four seats, Pelosi can’t afford to lose the liberal wing of her party.
Negotiations went on through the day and into Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game. Biden made a surprise appearances – and was greeted by boos from Republicans – as he brought ice cream bars to the lawmakers.
He worked the phones during the game and spoke with Pelosi in the Democratic dugout. She was seen on the phone during the game having an intense conversation.
Pelosi also sat with House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer during the part of the game, the two of them having an intense discussion as the plays unfolded before them. In the charity game, which features Democratic versus GOP lawmakers, the Republicans won.
Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also met with Biden at the White House on Wendseday before the game, as the Democrats rush to salvage the president’s ambitious domestic agenda.. And White House aides spent much of the day on Capitol Hill trying to cut a deal.
Biden’s budget package would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and use the money to expand government health care, education and other programs in a massive overhaul of social programs.
In the 50-50 Senate, Biden needs every Democratic vote.
Biden spent hours meeting with Sinema at the White House on Wednesday, but appeared no closer to a deal after Manchin fired off a scathing statement decrying the broad spending bill as ‘fiscal insanity’ and warning it would not get his vote without adjustments.
‘I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach,’ said the West Virginia Democrat.
Manchin said he ‘can’t support $3.5 trillion in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March.’
‘At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?’ added Manchin.
‘What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.’
Pelosi may be forced to postpone Thursday’s vote on the $1 trillion public infrastructure bill that Manchin, Sinema and other centrists want, but that progressives are threatening to defeat unless the moderates support Biden’s broader package.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki assured reporters that Sinema, at least, wanted a reconciliation bill to get passed. ‘Our sense is she does,’ Psaki said.
Even before Manchin’s statement came out, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders was encouraging progressives in the House to kill the bipartisan infrastructure bill – using that as leverage to get the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill done.
House Progressive Caucus Chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said Manchin’s statement made that outcome even more possible
‘His statement has just probably created at least a bunch more votes on the House floor against a bipartisan bill,’ she said. ‘I feel very confident that we have the votes [to block it] if the bill does come up.’
Jayapal of Washington state said of Manchin: ‘He needs to either give us an offer or this whole thing is not going to happen.’
The bipartisan infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate.
President Biden has been unable to cut a deal with moderate Senators Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal to extend government funding, which is set to expire at midnight on Thursday
Meanwhile, Schumer announced Wednesday night Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal to extend government funding, which is set to expire at midnight on Thursday.
‘We have agreement on the CR – the continuing resolution – to prevent the government shutdown. And we should be voting on that tomorrow morning,’ Schumer said.
The deal, which funds the government through December 3, includes $28.6 billion for natural disaster recovery and $6.3 billion for Afghan refugees.
Democrats agreed to strip out language which would have suspended the debt ceiling through 2022, appeasing Republicans who insist that Democrats should raise the borrowing limit themselves by using the process called budget reconciliation.
The Senate will vote on the funding resolution on Thursday and it should be to the House sometime in the afternoon. Once it passes both chambers it goes to Biden for his signature.
That still leaves the question of raising the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. government from going into a disastrous credit default by mid-October, an issue Republicans insist that Democrats must resolve on their own in reconciliation.