Democrats are rushing to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion reconciliation package before the upcoming campaign year of the 2022 midterms.
With the midterm elections less than a year away, campaigns are stepping into full swing. Democrat candidates are positioned to win primaries with hopes of defeating well-positioned Republicans in the general election.
But Biden’s reconciliation package, the most radical legislative item since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s, remains debated in the Senate, awaiting a vote.
The longer Biden’s package remains stuck in Congress, the more difficult it will presumably be for Democrat leadership to pass the measure in a campaign year. For this reason, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced last week he would like the package passed before Christmas.
Democrats have blamed the bill’s stagnation on the Senate parliamentarian who must provide rulings on some of the radical items within the package.
It is unknown if the package will be passed by Christmas. Yet Democrat senators would prefer to keep their plan under wraps, so as to escape media scrutiny, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) told Politico. “[I] would prefer that the Democratic negotiation be quiet rather than in public because I think the protracted tug of war is not necessarily that helpful,” he admitted.
Kaine also revealed that a hard deadline may not help Democrats quickly enact the package because it would increase pressure on the leadership.
“I don’t think a public deadline would necessarily help,” Kaine added. “We all feel like it’s coming to a decision point. I don’t know that announcing a public deadline would really get [the White House] anything and it might cause some people to get their hackles up.”
Democrat infighting has been a key reason Democrats are rushed to pass the measure before 2022. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) told Politico Democrat infighting over the package has wasted valuable time.
“It’s going to require a lot more time by a lot of us, the president, the vice president, every member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, but I think we’ll get there,” he said.
The Democrat infighting has also delayed the passage of the routine National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) since September, further jamming the legislative calendar. Democrats attempted to pass the NDAA in December but have been unsuccessful due to Republican amendments.
To free up calendar space for the reconciliation package, Democrats’ newly hatched plan is to reportedly combine the NDAA with the debt ceiling provision. The debt ceiling must be increased as soon as December 15.
Democrats hope that if they can pass both imperative provisions in the coming weeks, the reconciliation package could be enacted into law by January 1, 2022.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø.