Top House Democrat Still Eyes Passing Biden Agenda This Month
(Bloomberg) -- The chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee said Wednesday Democrats are trying to complete work on President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda by the end of September, despite daunting challenges uniting the party behind a top-line spending figure.
House leaders have planned votes in the coming weeks on both the $550 billion infrastructure package and a separate tax and spending measure of as much as $3.5 trillion. But divisions between moderates and progressives could create hurdles to passage.
“I think we will get them both done,” Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” with David Westin. “I believe we will be able to work out a deal that our moderates will go along with.”
The House last month passed a budget outline setting up consideration of the $3.5 trillion tax and spending package, but only after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to a procedural resolution putting the House on track to vote on the infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.
Moderates support the infrastructure bill but some are skeptical of the price tag and tax increases envisioned for the larger measure. Pelosi can only lose three votes from her party and still pass legislation in the House if Republicans are united in opposition.
McGovern’s comments come on a day when House committees have begun votes on elements of the larger package, which has been designed to go on a special budget fast track through the Senate to bypass the need for Republican votes. The Natural Resources Committee is voting on a portion of the bill with climate change and environmental conservation elements and the Oversight Committee is working on money to electrify the vehicles in the U.S. Postal Service, among other priorities.
In a sign of possible trouble for the social spending package, moderate Democrats Ed Case of Hawaii and Jim Costa of California said during the Natural Resources Committee meeting that they would vote to advance the committee’s portion of the package but they are deeply concerned that the overall bill will not be fully paid for and would add to the nation’s $28.4 trillion debt.
Separately, McGovern on Bloomberg TV was asked about U.S. relations with Cuba and said he is “disappointed” with Biden’s approach to the Communist nation and advocated a fuller normalization of relations. He argued engagement would serve to liberalize the political situation there.
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