Eleven Democratic senators are backing House progressives in their push to pass a massive $3.5 trillion spending bill as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, as the US Chamber of Commerce calls the spending an “existential threat” to the US’ economic recovery.
On Wednesday, the group of lawmakers led by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged the House of Representatives to wait to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the multi-trillion dollar budget reconciliation bill is given approval and sent to the President’s desk.
“We can create millions of good-paying jobs as we repair our crumbling infrastructure, address the climate crisis, and finally confront the long-neglected crises facing millions of low-income and working-class families across this country. But we can accomplish those goals only if we stick to our original agreement,” the senators wrote.
“We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track. Abandoning the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act and passing the infrastructure bill first would be in violation of that agreement.”
“Congress must not undercut the President’s proposals that will create new opportunities for America’s families and workers.”
The proposed $3.5 trillion plan, which is backed by most congressional Democrats, would hike some corporate and income tax rates for households earning more than $400,000 to create new initiatives to subsidize parenthood, education and health care, as well as fund new housing and environmental programs.
The 11 senators voiced their support for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and additional members of the House that intend to vote for the infrastructure bill after the spending bill is passed.
“Now is the time to pass both of these major pieces of legislation. We have no time to waste.”
In recent weeks, Congress has been battling to pass both pieces of legislation, however has been faced with backlash from Republicans and moderate members of the Democratic party on the heavy price tag of the budget reconciliation.
The US Chamber of Commerce slammed the bill on Wednesday, calling it an “existential threat” to the US’ economic recovery.
“This reconciliation bill is effectively 100 bills in one representing every big government idea that’s never been able to pass in Congress. The bill is an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity,” US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said.
“We will not find durable or practical solutions in one massive bill that is equivalent to more than twice the combined budgets of all 50 states.”
The senators’ statement came the same day Biden was reportedly unable to convince Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to support the $3.5 spending bill.
Biden reportedly tried to persuade Manchin that his opposition to the larger spending measure could endanger a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that is currently awaiting a vote in the House, to no avail.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have repeatedly said they will not support the current price tag, making it difficult for Democrats to reach the 51 votes needed to pass the Senate.
On Monday, House Spear Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) looked to reassure hesitant Democrats that they would not be asked to pass the spending bill with a higher price tag than any legislation approved by the Senate, adding that there may need to be adjustments.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill has already been passed by the Senate and has been held off from a vote by Pelosi in an effort to hammer out details in the additional budget reconciliation.
Progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have threatened to kill the infrastructure bill if the spending plan is not passed by the end of September.
“You have a very small destructive group of members who want to hold the entire country’s agenda hostage for an arbitrary date,” she said, according to CNN.
“And this is not, it’s not representative of the agenda of the caucus, it’s not representative of the agenda of the president, and we need to stay focused on the original, on the original process that allowed us to move forward in the first place.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) warned other members of her party this week that the progressive caucus will successfully defeat the infrastructure bill if the budget reconciliation doesn’t win approval.