“Rebuild better” divides Democrats
US government faces shutdown and could default on debts if issues are not addressed
By Spencer Tracy, guest writer
Biden’s “Build Better” program consists of a social policy bill and a bipartisan infrastructure bill. The legislation has been mixed up with attempts to increase the federal debt limit, a move Republicans oppose.
President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda faces a critical test this month as progressive and moderate Democrats battle over the size and scope of his “Build Better” proposal – a bill that contains funds for a wide array of social issues that will likely be associated with a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
A more immediate worry adds to the complication: The government could close its doors on Oct. 18 if Congress does not raise the federal debt limit. Votes for this bill are politically entangled with blocked Build Back Better legislation.
Republicans are opposing the $ 3.5 trillion cost of the social policy bill, and moderate Democrats are pushing for a more modest measure of between $ 1.5 billion and $ 2.2 billion.
As Republicans unite against the $ 3.5 trillion social policy bill, they have also agreed to oppose the federal debt ceiling bill. The debts in this bill relate to spending that has already occurred, but Republicans object to the additional money the bill has allocated for future spending.
“As we speak, Democrats are behind closed doors, amassing a wave of multibillion-dollar taxes and reckless spending,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said. “There is no way the Republicans will help lift Democrats’ credit limits so they can immediately get through a socialist frenzy that will hurt families and help China.”
The United States hit the debt ceiling on August 1, when the Treasury Department began taking “extraordinary steps” to meet its tax obligations and pay government bills. These “extraordinary measures”, according to the Treasury, include accounting and investment tricks that allow the government to avoid paying its debts.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen identified October 18 as the date the government would not be able to continue taking “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.
“It would be catastrophic not to pay the government bills, for us to be in a position where we lack the resources to pay the government bills,” she said. “I expect that will cause a recession as well.”
The Social Policy Bill funds public education, including two years of free community college, health care, improved child care, and climate change initiatives. This would be paid for by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.
The infrastructure bill allocates $ 1.2 billion to build roads, bridges and broadband services across the country. This bill has already been passed by the Senate with the support of Democrats and Republicans. In the House, Progressive Democrats have refused to support the infrastructure bill unless the social policy bill receives increased funding.
Moderate Democrats such as the senses. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Joe Manchin, DW.Va., are reluctant to support the social policy bill because of its $ 3.5 trillion price tag.
Manchin has indicated his willingness to work with other Democrats to negotiate a lower cost of the bill.
“At the end of the day, I want to be strategic, do the right job, and we’re not fundamentally adding more to the concerns we have right now,” Manchin said.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, supported the cost of the bill but expressed willingness to compromise to meet budgetary and political commitments.
“3.5 trillion (for the social policy bill) should be a minimum, but I accept that it will be necessary to give and receive,” he said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she expects a final House vote by October 31.