Democrats Face New Crisis in Congress

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has jumped over the pitfalls of a government shutdown and debt crisis. Now, he must bring one of the greatest spending bills in US history to a successful conclusion.

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All Focus on Joe Biden’s State Welfare Bill

As the Majority Leader crosses items off his chamber’s to-do list, he turns his attention to Biden’s $1.7 trillion welfare state package, which must be passed before the extended holiday break.

Only a few roadblocks stand in Schumer’s way: Sen. Joe Manchin’s fear about rising inflation, the necessity for complete party unity, and the fact Schumer only has a few days to accomplish his goal of ultimate passage by Christmas.

Oh, and the reality the formal agreement hasn’t been finalized yet is also a factor. Despite this, Democrats claim Schumer is sticking to his promises to complete work on environmental and social policy bills in the next two weeks.

Schumer met with Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and teams of lawmakers working on the bill’s tough tax portion before senators split around the nation for the holiday.

Democrat Sen. Mark Warner, describing Schumer’s frenetic negotiating tempo, said, “we’re getting into that feverish point. It’s usually a harbinger of excellent things to come.”

Democrat Sen. Jon Tester described Schumer’s work as “difficult,” adding the leader’s stress really depends on the day. “He’s been under a lot of stress. You can tell by his tone of voice. The rest of the time is fine. He’s had a wonderful week, in my opinion.”

Schumer’s first move toward putting the humanitarian spending plan on the Senate floor was his clever work alongside Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; this avoided a fiscal crisis, a government shutdown threat, and the yearly defense policy bill.

However, enacting the party-line measure will be Schumer’s hardest test yet, closing off a tough year in which he’s had his hands full.

Time is Running Out

In the following days, Schumer and his colleagues must finish negotiating with Republicans over how much of the measure will survive inspection.

Things that might get cut include immigration, healthcare, and other provisions, if they are found to be in violation of the rules. Getting the entire bill on the floor will be far more difficult, especially given Manchin’s ambiguity, which has vexed the Democratic caucus.

After all of Manchin’s negative statements about the plan, Schumer and Manchin have a tighter connection than the West Virginian had with the chamber’s former leader, Harry Reid.

However, it’s still unclear if the New Yorker can get his most vocal centrist’s endorsement. Liberals think it’s primarily Schumer’s responsibility to secure the 50th vote; though Biden is expected to speak with Manchin as early as Monday.

Thursday’s schedule exemplifies Schumer’s balancing act. He wished Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a happy birthday, advised her to “keep fighting” for paid leave, and then held a press conference with her to promote the topic.

On the same day, Schumer was in his leader suite with Manchin, who is opposed to paid leave being included in the party-line bill.