If Congressional Democrats Are Going to Shut It Down, Lots of Other Lawmakers Need to Join the Board
Let’s call them “others”.
If Democrats are going to pass their $3.5 trillion social spending plan — and even the bipartisan infrastructure bill — they need to worry about Democrats not being censored. Joe Manchin, DWV, and Kirsten Cinema, D-Ariz.
Famously known as “munchkin and cinema,” the one-two punch is now the “peanut butter and jelly” of the Capitol Hill vernacular. They naturally go together. You cannot have one without the other.
But there are many other combinations of lawmakers that Congressional Democratic leaders need to get on board if they are going to pull this off.
The “others” phenomenon was on full display last week as the House Ways and Means Committee concluded a marathon, four-day session to prepare the tax portion of the mammoth bill.
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Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., is a member of that panel and leader of the “Blue Dogs,” a coalition of moderate Democrats who are financially conscious. Murphy voted against the Ways and Means Committee to pursue the overall plan.
Of the bill, Murphy said after the committee had finished its work, “I strongly support many of the provisions.” But Murphy said his new vote “hinged on the spending and tax provisions that give me pause.”
If the end product is “reasonably targeted and financially responsible — paid for by tax provisions that promote fairness, then Murphy probably left a little wiggle room to vote yes later.”
Rep. Tom Suozzi, D.N.Y., represents Queens and parts of Long Island. He also expressed reservations about the Ways and Means Committee adopting the package without addressing something affecting high-tax states: the so-called “salt” reduction.
The 2017 GOP tax deduction law actually eliminated the deduction of state and local taxes (or SALT) for places like New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois. It is believed that House Democratic leaders may aim to reinstate the cut through an amendment as the plan goes on the floor. But nothing is accomplished yet.
So, Suozhi has been telling the Democratic Brain Trust about SALT for months.
“‘No salt, no deal’,” Suozhi said. “I believe the final reconciliation package will include the SALT fix.”
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There are others, “others” too.
Watch the trio of reps for that. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Kathleen Rice, D.N.Y., and Scott Peters, D-California. The House Energy and Commerce Committee worked hard with the Ways and Means Panel last week to prepare its share of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. The trio of Schrader, Rice and Peters forced an impasse, 29-29 committee vote on a plan to give the government the right to negotiate drug prices with drug companies. By rule, a tie vote in Congress fails. Prescription drug provision is a touchstone of the Left’s wish list for the social spending package. In fact, the standalone bill is named after the late Representative Elijah Cummings, D-MD.
Schrader is not against negotiating drug costs. He just supports another law he has devised with Peters that aims to achieve the same result. Schrader is concerned about jamming the prescription drug portion into a massive spending bill and not hearing it separately. Then, like Manchin and Cinema, Shredder worries about the total cost of the monster law.
Liberal and centrist Democrats have other concerns about the bill. If Democratic leaders start leaning toward moderates to marshal their votes, we may not even have issues with the “other” with the package.
The House is back in session this week for the first time since the end of August. Resolving issues between members of the House—and potentially pre-baking a settlement with Senate Democrats—is a daunting task. We’ll begin to get the real meaning of this once the members are filtered to the Capitol ahead of one of the most ambitious legislative agendas to face Congress in decades.
“It’s going to be a lot of stress to get it done. Especially by the end of the month,” a senior Democratic Party member said late last week.
In a letter to fellow Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. told her members that the House was “on time” to deliver the agenda.
Democrats are already doing well on a concession to moderate Democrats to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package after next week.
“On September 27, pursuant to the rule passed in August, the House will consider the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, wrote to his aides.
Moderates insisted on a fixed date for the infrastructure bill. they have got. Now liberals are chirping that the center of the Democratic caucus created what it wanted – but not the left. Don’t forget that progressives wanted to spend $6 trillion on social programs. And the proposed Medicare expansion of hearing, vision and dental care has been cut from what many leftist members wanted.
Therefore, moderate Democrats simply do not include the group of “others” that Democratic leaders need to worry about. Progressives could also bald.
It doesn’t take long to fire both the infrastructure bill and the social spending plan for the right mix of members of both wings of the Democratic caucus.
Believe it or not, Republicans have their own combination of “others” that can cause problems for Democrats as well.
A group of House Republicans is set to support a bipartisan infrastructure bill. But as colleagues Tyler Olson and Jackie Heinrich report, members and representatives of the Problem Solver Caucus. Dusty Johnson, RSD, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., have both indicated that the infrastructure agreement could be broken if voting is delayed or if voting is delayed. It is somehow “linked” to the larger social expenditure package.
Here the biggest problem is before the Congress leaders. We mentioned a group of “others” that we know of. More members can also express their concern. They just haven’t done so because the legislative talks haven’t happened yet.
The 2001 Nicole Kidman film “The Other” was about the ghosts her character found in a house on an island in the English Channel.
On Capitol Hill, there are plenty of “others” to worry about besides Manchin, cinema, and the rest of the playwrights listed here. Some of those lawmakers who could object are also “ghosts” for now. But we’ll soon know who they are as the House and Senate try to push these big bills in the coming weeks.