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Next political tightrope act for the Democrats: Sale of their 3.5-ton budget deal

As soon as their budget agreement was signed, the Senate Democrats knew that an agreement among the members of the Budget Committee would not guarantee the support of their entire group. Biden’s appearance at her Wednesday lunch is supposed to move things forward.

“The key is we just have to get to a place where we know we all have 50 dems,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “We’re getting closer, but as you know, it takes several steps to get some kind of general agreement … it’s not the same as getting close to the bill yourself.”

Given their wafer-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, the democratic leaders play through several scenarios in order to fight their way through the gigantic one-party spending law. Scenarios considered earlier this week included Democrats in the House of Representatives voting first on the party’s draft budget, reaffirming the lower chamber’s role in a process that several Democratic advisors publicly see as being more Senate-driven . However, on Wednesday that approach seemed less likely.

There is also the question of whether Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer will put the bipartisan infrastructure bill to a vote before the budget, if an agreement is reached.

Schumer has insisted that the Democrats vote on the bipartisan physical infrastructure deal before going into the August recess, while also starting the process for the party’s other priorities. Meanwhile, spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi vowed that her chamber won’t even examine the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes not only its budget, but also the filibuster-safe laws that the fiscal draft is supposed to put in motion.

The dizzying maneuvers in the timing of the bills underline the high level of commitment to the democratic leaders. A misstep could alienate a major faction in the party and ruin their chances of getting Biden’s next major legislative priority.

“It’s going to be really difficult. It will take people who may disagree but feel that they will vote for it because it is best for the country, ”said Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Of the effort to pass both the bipartisan law as well as adopting the Democrats. Social spending package. “I’m glad I don’t have Chuck’s job.”

While the Senate Budgets Committee Democrats have now agreed on a top-line number, they have yet to release policy details. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said on Tuesday before the settlement that he wanted to see the package paid for in full. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), A moderator on the budget committee, said Tuesday evening that these criteria were met but did not provide details.

Senate Democrats can’t afford a single dump on the upcoming mega-bill, while Pelosi can only lose three or four votes in their faction.

Before this move can move forward, the Democrats must adopt a budget. That is where their problems begin.

Several House progressives have said they would prefer a scenario in which they vote on this resolution first. However, at least six House centrists have teamed up to support the opposite approach, saying they are ready to block scrutiny of the budget as a whole unless it clears the Senate first, according to a Democratic adviser to the moderate wing is close.

Many hesitate to cast a difficult vote without knowing what is Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) accept – and above all are not ready to occupy it twice. Their main concern is that the party’s draft budget could change significantly in the Senate, where a nightly marathon of amendments could have unforeseen political ramifications for vulnerable House Democrats who are already concerned about losing their majority.

But the progressives in the House of Representatives argue that they will not move forward until the Senate and House of Representatives are on the same side.

“It wouldn’t be, ‘Here’s our wish-list, and maybe the Senate will vote for it or maybe not.’ It would be the agreement that is largely in effect, “said Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) MP, who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In interviews, Senate Democrats expressed no preference for the chamber to vote on the party line’s package first, saying they are instead focusing on getting a full deal first – and the US $ 3.5 trillion deal. Dollar on Tuesday night is just the first step towards it.

“I always assumed we had to go first because reaching 50 is a lot harder. Practically speaking, it feels like the Senate has to go first, but I don’t think I have a personal touch. “Preference,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

During a private caucus lunch on Tuesday, Schumer said he had told Democrats not to “draw lines in the sand.”. ”

He will bear the greatest burden when it comes to selling housemates through a separate and bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan, with important support from Pelosi. Even that depends on whether the five Republicans who negotiated the deal can cement the soft support of others in the GOP, a challenge that will depend in large part on how the Congressional Budget Office assesses the bill’s funding mechanisms.

Importantly, the Democrats involved in the bipartisan talks have still not received an actual bill, despite the fact that the Budgets Committee Democrats celebrated their breakthrough on a top-line number. The bipartisan group working on the $ 1 trillion infrastructure package aims to resolve outstanding issues between members by Thursday. Tester, who helped negotiate the bipartisan deal, said Tuesday that the senators were “still out of the woods”.

Burgess Everett, Andrew Desiderio and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

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