Democrat senators are increasingly skeptical Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will be able to meet his goal of passing President Joe Biden's sweeping climate and social spending package by Christmas, The Hill reported Monday.
The doubt over passing the Build Back Better Act by Schumer's deadline comes as the Senate continues to be bogged down in one time-consuming struggle after another, including lifting the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions.
As part of Schumer's goal, he wants to bring the $2 trillion bill to the floor the week of Dec. 13, but that timeline looks increasingly doubtful, because negotiators among Democrats still have much to work out and Congress will also have to boost the debt ceiling by Dec. 15, which will distract attention from passing Biden's legislation.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a pivotal player in the debate, is predicting the legislation will likely have to wait until January, although a Democrat aide said getting the bill done by Christmas is still possible, despite the numerous challenges, according to The Hill.
But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., another key senator in the process, has not guaranteed he will vote to even start debate on the package, as he emphasized he wants a "strategic pause" to check how the economy reacts to the money already being pumped into it by Congress.
Manchin's concerns have been increased by the emergence of the highly contagious omicron coronavirus variant. Next week's report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November inflation could also affect his thinking due to heightened national worries over the sharp rise in prices.
In addition, legislators are also waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to provide an extended 10-year cost analysis of the bill, which could add to the opposition to the legislation due to its likely higher than expected cost.
Even though negotiators have reported some progress in talks on the legislation, sources say it does not appear any of the major outstanding issues have been resolved among fellow Democrats since Congress left town for Thanksgiving.
"The things that I'm immediately working on that are unresolved remain unresolved, albeit perhaps narrowed or given some added context, but I can't point you to any particular thing that's been nailed down," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a leading advocate for stronger provisions to reduce global-warming emissions. "It's pretty amorphous and there are lots of issues."
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