FILE PHOTO: A U.S. flag flies outside of the Capitol dome in Washington By David Lawder and Chris Prentice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Democrats said on Sunday that they will likely need to scale back President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending bill while passage of the linked bipartisan infrastructure bill may slip past a Sept. 27 deadline.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also may delay sending the $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure after House passage to the White House for Biden’s signature until the larger spending bill passes, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth told "Fox News Sunday" – a move aimed to ensure that moderate Democrats support the bill.
Their comments illustrate the difficult path Democrats face in passing Biden’s sweeping agenda with razor-thin majorities and staunch Republican opposition. Tempers are high within the Democratic caucus, with moderate and progressive wings of the party sharply divided over the scale of spending.
Democrats also face looming October deadlines to fund the government and raise the federal debt ceiling. Failures on either part could deal a blow to the economy and hurt the party’s standing with voters.
Asked about the amount of the "reconciliation" tax-hike and spending bill on childcare, education and green energy, Yarmuth said he expects that the bill’s top line number "will be somewhat less than $3.5 trillion."
Representative James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, told CNN that the number could be lower.
"So it may be $3.5 (trillion), it may be really close to that or maybe closer to something else. So I think that we ought to really focus on the American people to think about what takes to get us in a good place and then let the numbers take care of themselves," Clyburn said on the "State of the Union" program.
Democrats aim to pass the massive spending plan without Republican support under budget reconciliation rules and cannot afford to lose any Democratic votes in the Senate and only three votes in the House.