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15 Dec 2021

Biden's $1.75 Trillion Domestic Investment Bill Faces Critical Year-end Test

The Index Today

Having turned away an embarrassing government shutdown and potentially catastrophic default this month, Democrats in the U.S. Congress now move on to the even harder task of passing the proposed President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion domestic investment bill.

After months of intraparty bargaining, moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was withholding his support for the sweeping bill that would expand social programs and invest in technology to battle climate change, complicating Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's goal of approving it before Christmas just 10 days away now.

On Tuesday, Schumer said that the president's been speaking with Senator Manchin and I look forward to hearing about further progress. Signaling retreat from his timetable but not guaranteeing success.

The Senate Democratic leader scored a victory on Tuesday when Congress gave final approval to raising the government's $28.9 trillion debt limit, averting a catastrophic default. But with no votes to spare in passing Biden's "Build Back Better" (BBB) initiative amid solid Republican opposition, Schumer now faces his biggest challenge since becoming majority leader in January. He is feeling the heat from all sides, Reuters reported.

His top lieutenant, Senator Dick Durbin, has been clamoring for a showdown that would force Manchin to either fall into line and vote for the bill or defy Biden in a way that could severely damage his presidency and Manchin's own party.

Asked whether Schumer should schedule votes on Build Back Better without nailing down victory, Durbin said: "It's always a risk," adding: "Many people will sit on the fence as long as possible. There comes a time when you've got to say ... put up or shut up."

Some moderate Democratic senators saw no urgency in Schumer's Christmas deadline.

"If we get it done before Christmas, great. If it goes into New Year's, that's fine," Senator Jon Tester told reporters.

Such flexibility infuriates liberals, who have already swallowed a raft of compromises amid a promise of quick action if they helped pass a separate, $1 trillion, bipartisan road and bridge-building infrastructure bill, which they did.

"The agreement from the beginning was that it was one deal," Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive, told reporters. "And yet we seem to be having trouble pulling the BBB part across the finish line."

Clay pottery with table linens
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