Beyond Manchin: Dems $2T bill faces Senate challenge

Beyond Manchin: Dems $2T bill faces Senate challenge

The gauntlet they face: BRIGHT SIDE FOR DEMOCRATS

Facing unbroken GOP opposition, Democrats finally reached agreement among themselves and eased the compromise through the House on Nov. 19. One Democrat voted no in a chamber they control by just three votes. They’re negotiating further changes for a final version they hope will win approval by Christmas in the 50-50 Senate, where they’ll need every Democratic vote. House passage of the altered bill would still be needed. Yes, just weeks ago the bill’s price tag was $3.5 trillion over 10 years. It passed the House at around $2 trillion and will likely fall further in the Senate.

And yes, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have already forced their party to constrain the measure’s size and ambition. Manchin, at least, wants to cut still further. But while they’ve enraged progressives wanting a more robust measure, neither moderate senator has signaled a desire to blow up the party’s top legislative priority. Both have held months of talks with party leaders, suggesting each wants an agreement, though one reflecting their views.

Things can still implode in the Senate, where debate will begin no earlier than the week of Dec. 6. But Democrats retain a strong chance of enacting their plans for spending increases and tax cuts making child care, health coverage, education and housing more affordable and slowing global warming, largely financed with higher levies on the rich and big companies. GOP AMENDMENTS Here’s one place where Republicans could cause real problems for Democrats.

After debating the legislation for up to 20 hours, senators can introduce limitless numbers of amendments and force votes with little debate. The so-called vote-a-rama can drag through the night. GOP goals will be twofold. They can force changes weakening the bill by winning over just one Democrat. And they can offer amendments that lose but gain ammunition for next year’s midterm elections by putting Democrats on record against popular-sounding ideas. The 2,100-page bill offers plenty of targets.

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