The long-stalled Democratic spending package is suddenly on a fast track.
Democrats told reporters Tuesday they plan to have a deal on a framework by the end of the week, which would provide enough time to pass legislation closer to an Oct. 31 deadline that many believed was far out of reach.
“We want to get it done this week,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said after huddling with divided Democrats in a private meeting Tuesday.
The warring factions of liberals and two centrists have started to edge closer to each other, meeting for the first time on Monday and planning more talks this week.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told reporters Democrats realize they are running out of time to pass the social welfare spending package, which is tied to a bipartisan infrastructure measure. Both comprise Biden’s economic agenda and could provide a significant boost to the president’s sagging poll numbers.
“I think that the clock is ticking, and that's what we're pressing for,” Durbin said. “For this week.”
But it’s not clear how Democrats will bridge a wide intraparty gulf on the size and scope of the deal.
Sen. Joe. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he won’t back a spending plan costing more than $1.5 trillion, while liberals were hoping to spend at least $3.5 trillion.
Big differences on climate policy and entitlements must also be resolved.
Lawmakers met behind closed doors Tuesday in the Capitol, while Biden presided separately over lawmaker meetings at the White House.
“There is a growing understanding that the working families of this country want real change, that there have been, quote-unquote, negotiations, month after month after month, and that it is now time to fish or cut bait,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders told reporters. “I think the vast majority of the members of the caucus want to act and act quickly, so I think you're going to hear a lot of serious discussion within the next few days.”
Sanders has been battling with Manchin over the cost and policy measures in the spending package.
The Vermont independent and socialist published an op-ed in one of Manchin’s hometown papers criticizing Manchin for failing to support the $3.5 trillion price tag.
Manchin responded with a broadside against Sanders.
“This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,” Manchin said in a statement, adding that the nation is struggling with supply chain issues, inflation, and thousands of unfilled jobs.
“Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs. No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that,” Manchin stated.
On Monday, however, Sanders and Manchin emerged from the Capitol arms linked, declaring that the two are working on an accord. The next day, there were no new developments to report.
“We are in the midst of serious discussions, but at the end of the day, I think the American people are tired of these discussions, never-ending,” Sanders said Tuesday. “They want action.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: ‘Fish or cut bait’: Democrats vie for spending accord by week’s end