Washington – AFP
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed away from a vote on Thursday night to approve a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, after not getting enough support from her party’s lawmakers, in a clear indication of the internal divisions threatening President Joe Biden’s projects.
Pelosi, the California congresswoman, promised to bring the plan to a vote, after it passed the Senate with bipartisan support, while the moderate wing sought an easy victory for Biden for a plan that may be one of the largest spending packages in history.
However, the progressives confirmed that they would fail the plan, after not obtaining a clear indication from the centrists, that they would show their commitment to a larger social spending plan amounting to 3.5 trillion dollars.
This threat left Pelosi baffled about introducing the infrastructure plan in the House of Representatives; Where it does not have Republican support, Liberal Democrats can fail it, or risk angering moderates by delaying the vote.
Pelosi did not immediately comment, but the White House pledged to bring the warring wings back to the negotiating table Friday.
“A lot of progress has been made this week, and we’re closer than ever to a deal,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “But we haven’t found it yet,” she added. So we need more time to get the job done, starting tomorrow morning.”
The prospects for the approval of the infrastructure plan seemed out of reach during a day of fraught negotiations in Congress and the White House, which did not lead to an agreement on the contents or proposals of the bill for the plan, which was called “Building Back Better.”
Republicans who supported the infrastructure plan in the Senate, including Mitt Romney, issued a statement expressing “disappointment” at the setback, but with the hope that it will eventually pass.
The long day in Washington began more optimistic as Congress passed a bipartisan interim budget bill, resting Biden and preventing federal administrations from being paralyzed at night by the end of the fiscal year. After signing the budget bill, Biden said, “There is a lot of work ahead of us.” He added, “But the adoption of the bill reminds us that partisan work is possible, and gives us time to approve long-term funds to maintain our government’s work and loyalty to the people.”
Despite some progress behind the scenes, the war of words between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party over the two massive spending plans continued, while Republicans enjoyed spectacles of chaos and set their sights on next year’s midterm elections.
Progressives did not trust centrists, who object to the size and goals of the larger spending package, to stick to an agreement to pass the law once the infrastructure plan is approved. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin raised tensions on Wednesday by saying trillions of dollars of additional spending was “financial insanity”, fueling opposition to the smaller infrastructure plan.
He told reporters Thursday that he was not ready to cross $1.5 trillion.
Pelosi, who insists that no bill should be unsupported, had originally planned to go ahead with a vote on the infrastructure plan, but the support did not materialize. It eventually gave in, and now has the possibility of trying again on Friday, or freezing the infrastructure plan.
The latest developments do not deal a fatal blow to Biden’s agenda, though the delay would be frustrating for White House aides who risk losing momentum, having spent the week rallying lawmakers.
The deferral option could give way to catharsis as Congress focuses on other huge challenges, such as raising the debt ceiling.
The United States is close to defaulting on its $28 trillion debt, while the Treasury has 19 days to exhaust its capacity to obtain new loans. And neither party leader has offered a way to avoid the crisis that could wreck the economy.
Republicans demand that Democrats, whom they view as wasteful spenders, bear the political burden of managing the debt on their own, since they control Congress and the White House, but Democrats oppose using the budget process called “reconciliation” to pass the extension without Republican support.
They say it will take three to four weeks, which will not fail. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved raising the debt ceiling with the approval of Democrats, but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rejected it.
Washington – AFP