Saturday, July 20, 2024

Divisions heat up over Democrats’ $3.5 trillion bill

Divisions over what should be included in the Democrats’ reconciliation package are spilling into lawmakers’ return to Capitol Hill, previewing the fight and signaling how fragile the execution of Biden’s domestic agenda is.

For months, Democrats have been able to decide what policy should be included in their $3.5 trillion bill, but with September here and the end of recess right around the corner, serious policy splits are expected to happen with fights over how large the package should be and when it should be voted on.

Days ahead will reveal ideological and regional divisions within the Democratic caucus. With the $3.5 trillion bill, Democrats have a lot of room to include proposals that they’ve been working on for decades to reimagine the social safety net. They view this as a once in a lifetime package and individual members are aware that with thin margins, every member holds incredible sway over the bill’s passage.

For some members, that’s the child tax credit. For others, it’s the State and Local tax deduction. For Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, it’s expanding Medicare for the elderly. These are the type of choices that Democrats struggling with now. That’s before getting to prescription drug reforms, which members in New Jersey have already begun pitching a fight against.

Democrats still haven’t settled on how much they must spend. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said that he wants less than $3.5 trillion but some Democrats have argued that he’s not taking into consideration how much of that could be paid for.