Schumer Says Senate Aims to Pass Biden’s Social Policy Bill Before Christmas

Schumer Says Senate Aims to Pass Biden's Social Policy Bill Before Christmas Schumer Says Senate Aims to Pass Biden's Social Policy Bill Before Christmas Schumer (Getty)

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 04:06 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that Senate Democrats aimed to pass President Joe Biden's social spending and climate bill before Christmas, acknowledging another delay in a bill Democrats have struggled for months to finish.

Earlier this month Schumer, a Democrat, had said the Senate's goal was to get the roughly $1.75 trillion measure passed by the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November. But the bill is still in the House of Representatives, where it stalled amid intense squabbling between centrist and progressive Democrats. Democratic leaders hope it will finally pass that chamber later this week.

"We aim to pass it before Christmas," Schumer told reporters.

The proposal is an important part of Democratic President Biden's agenda called the "Build Back Better" plan. Schumer had hoped to finish work on it sooner in part because lawmakers have several other major issues to contend with by year's end, including funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing a defense spending bill.

"That's a huge agenda for December and the end of November, but we aim to get it all done," Schumer said. The Senate is spending this week debating the bill reauthorizing Pentagon military programs.

In October, the Senate voted to temporarily raise the federal government's $28.4 trillion debt limit and avoid the risk of a historic default. The $480 billion increase is expected to be exhausted by Dec. 3, the same day that funding for most federal programs expires under a stopgap measure passed recently following another partisan standoff.

It's also unclear how speedily the Senate can act on the Build Back Better plan. Republicans oppose the bill, and Democrats are trying to pass it without any Republican votes. But some Senate Democrats, including centrist Joe Manchin, dislike some of its provisions, such as a proposal for paid family leave. Manchin has also argued that the Democrats need to slow down the process of passing the massive agenda.

Assuming the Senate amends and then passes the bill, it would then need to return to the House for approval, stretching the process out further.

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