A Guide to the Twisted Thicket of Bills in Congress

Democrats passed the House Financing and Debt Ceiling Bill on Tuesday without a Republican vote, but they cannot do the same in the Senate due to the filibuster.

About six weeks ago, the Senate approved a $ 1.2 trillion program (including $ 550 billion in new federal spending) to strengthen the country’s physical infrastructure. The vote, after months of torturous negotiations between the White House and lawmakers from both parties, was unusually bipartisan, with 19 Republicans joining the 50 Democrats in backing it.

But the House has yet to resume it, as a majority of the Progressive House caucus will not vote for it until the larger, partisan bill (more details in a minute) is passed. Mr Biden and the main Democrats in Congress – including President Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader – have agreed on a “two-way” strategy that ties the fate of each bill to that of the other. They decided that was the only way to pass the two, given the competing priorities of the progressive and conservative wings of the party.

I wrote about the reasoning behind this strategy last month. Ms Pelosi had struck a deal with the Tory faction, promising a vote on the bipartisan bill by September 27 if the faction supported an immediate procedural step to move the partisan bill forward. Nothing has changed since, except that September 27 is four days away and the partisan bill is far from over.

Which is a problem, because if the bipartisan bill is presented on Monday as promised, it will almost certainly fail.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington, leader of the House Progressive Caucus, told Ms Pelosi this week that more than half of her nearly 100 members remain committed to voting against the bipartisan bill before the bill ends. partisan. That’s more than Republican support for the bipartisan bill can realistically offset, especially after House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana announced Thursday that he would urge Republicans to vote against.

The question now is whether Ms Pelosi will postpone the Sept. 27 vote, infuriating members to whom she has promised, or whether she will let it go ahead and fail. (If it chooses the latter route, the House could still pass the bill later.) The outcome will shape negotiations on the partisan bill.

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