Democrats passed the funding and debt ceiling bill in the House on Tuesday with no Republican votes, but they can’t do the same in the Senate because of the filibuster.
The bipartisan bill
About six weeks ago, the Senate approved a $1.2 trillion package (including $550 billion in new federal spending) to strengthen the nation’s physical infrastructure. The vote, after months of tortuous negotiations between the White House and lawmakers from both parties, was unusually bipartisan, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in support.
But the House hasn’t taken it up yet, because a majority of the House Progressive Caucus won’t vote for it until the larger, partisan bill (more on that in a minute) passes. Mr. Biden and top congressional Democrats — including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader — agreed on a “two-track” strategy that ties each bill’s fate to the other’s. They settled on this as the only way to pass both, given the competing priorities of the party’s progressive and conservative wings.
Biden’s 2022 Budget
The 2022 fiscal year for the federal government begins on October 1, and President Biden has revealed what he’d like to spend, starting then. But any spending requires approval from both chambers of Congress. Here’s what the plan includes:
- Ambitious total spending: President Biden would like the federal government to spend $6 trillion in the 2022 fiscal year, and for total spending to rise to $8.2 trillion by 2031. That would take the United States to its highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II, while running deficits above $1.3 trillion through the next decade.
- Infrastructure plan: The budget outlines the president’s desired first year of investment in his American Jobs Plan, which seeks to fund improvements to roads, bridges, public transit and more with a total of $2.3 trillion over eight years.
- Families plan: The budget also addresses the other major spending proposal Biden has already rolled out, his American Families Plan, aimed at bolstering the United States’ social safety net by expanding access to education, reducing the cost of child care and supporting women in the work force.
- Mandatory programs: As usual, mandatory spending on programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare make up a significant portion of the proposed budget. They are growing as America’s population ages.
- Discretionary spending: Funding for the individual budgets of the agencies and programs under the executive branch would reach around $1.5 trillion in 2022, a 16 percent increase from the previous budget.
- How Biden would pay for it: The president would largely fund his agenda by raising taxes on corporations and high earners, which would begin to shrink budget deficits in the 2030s. Administration officials have said tax increases would fully offset the jobs and families plans over the course of 15 years, which the budget request backs up. In the meantime, the budget deficit would remain above $1.3 trillion each year.
I wrote about the reasoning behind that strategy last month. Ms. Pelosi had struck a deal with the conservative faction, promising a vote on the bipartisan bill by Sept. 27 if the faction would support an immediate procedural step to advance the partisan bill. Nothing has changed since then — except that Sept. 27 is in four days, and the partisan bill is nowhere near done.
Which is a problem, because if the bipartisan bill comes to the floor on Monday as promised, it will almost certainly fail.
Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the leader of the House Progressive Caucus, told Ms. Pelosi this week that more than half of her nearly 100 members remained committed to voting against the bipartisan bill before the partisan one is finished. That is more than Republican support for the bipartisan bill can realistically make up for, especially after the House minority whip, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, announced on Thursday that he would urge Republicans to vote against it.
The question now is whether Ms. Pelosi will postpone the Sept. 27 vote, infuriating the members to whom she promised it, or whether she will let it go forward and fail. (If she goes the latter route, the House could still pass the bill later.) The outcome will shape negotiations over the partisan bill.