Democrats in the Senate cannot agree on a bill and time is growing short.
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Democratic Senator Majority Leader Charles Schumer D-N.Y, is fighting an uphill battle.
Schumer has hopes of passing a bill before the August recess.
Democrats on Capitol Hill are happy to pass spending bills — after all, it’s not their money.
The narrative that inflation could be tackled by spending even more cash, well, we’ve seen how that’s turned out.
And yet here we are, with Schumer and other Democrats chugging along on the reconciliation bill, hoping to wrap it up before the deadline that would open it to a GOP filibuster Sept. 30. Calls for student loan debt forgiveness continue, despite the price tag.
One of the bill’s provisions includes a proposed 3.8% tax on pass-through business income earned by wealthy individuals and couples.
Schumer’s plans are being thworted following a new report showing that prices have jumped 9.1% over last year.
That’s the fastest rise in inflation since 1981.
The worst thing would be to take any action which could shoot that number higher.
That was a key red flag for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, who has essentially blocked Schumer from leadfooting the country into even higher rates of inflation.
so now, Schumer has been trying to negotiate a budget reconciliation deal with Manchin in hopes of passing the bill before the August recess.
There have been complaints that this pass-through tax will hit small businesses, potentially spiking inflation.
“If anything, it needs to be scrubbed much better,” Manchin said.
“Everyone should be extremely cautious because you cannot do a thing right now that’s going to add or be inflammatory to inflation,” he added.
The inflation spike was enough for Manchin to pull back, saying he’s not sure if he can support a bill that includes anything beyond a proposal to give Medicare power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices.
“We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing, OK? — on Medicare,” he told reporters Wednesday. “Is there any more we can do? I don’t know but I am very, very cautious.
“And I’m going to make sure that I have every input on scrubbing everything humanly possible that could be considered inflammatory,” he said.
“Basically, take your time and make sure we do it and do it right. We can’t afford mistakes in the highest inflation we’ve seen in the last 40 years.”
Taking the time and doing it right should be a basic premise of good government, but we live in hyper-partisan times where rushing through legislation in the hopes of beating the other side of the aisle to the punch is the order of the day, Boston Herald notes.
Now Manchin and some of his Republican colleagues are turning the conversation back to the American people.
In referencing how raising taxes on pass-through businesses (restaurants, construction companies, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, family-owned stores and the like) will increase costs for consumers, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, noted “They can’t absorb those additional causes. They would have to increase their prices and that would exacerbate inflation.”
Americans are suffering as the party politics continue in Congress.
“People are hurting,” Manchin said.
Adding more difficulty to his negotiations, Schumer has been battling Covid recently but has been actively steering the floor of the Senate from afar.
Schumer’s ongoing negotiations with Manchin on their party’s domestic agenda were delicate even before the majority leader caught Covid, but now Schumer is fighting for his high stakes bill from quarantine in Brooklyn.
Schumer’s pandemic predicament comes as July assumes an outsized role in his leadership of history’s longest-running 50-50 Senate, Politico reports.
Schumer conducted two leadership meetings and a full caucus meeting virtually this week while battling Covid and spoke to Manchin Monday about the climate, prescription drug and tax bill that is captivating Senate Democrats. In Tuesday’s caucus meeting, Schumer indicated it’s his goal to put a Manchin-backed bill on the Senate floor before the August recess, using filibuster-evasion powers that expire Sept. 30, according to attendees.
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“It’d be better if he was here this week. But … life is life,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Normally, having to take such pivotal discussions online could be perilous for the two senators: Everything plays differently in person compared to over the computer. Yet Democrats say that Manchin and Schumer’s decade-plus working together gives them a foundation for continuing negotiations from afar.
“It’s always difficult for an engaged and intense member to be absent,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). “But where you already have a deep relationship and a strong understanding of each other, you can make do. You can make it work.”
If there’s one void with Schumer physically absent, it’s in the daily floor speeches in which the leader often castigates Republicans and bucks up Biden and Democrats’ priorities. With Schumer on the disabled list for the week, McConnell has leaders’ designated floor time all to himself.