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US House Democrats face a test of unity on Joe Biden’s spending plan

WASHINGTON: Democrats faced a test of unity in the US House of Representatives on Monday as they began work on two ambitious spending plans that would spend trillions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and social programs.
While moderate Democrats are eager to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that has already been approved in the Senate, liberals say they must prioritize a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would expand child care and education spending. Both measures are priorities for Democratic President Joe Biden.
The first test will come Monday evening when the House votes on a package that would advance both spending bills as well as a separate franchise proposal.
That would clear the way for final votes on Tuesday’s budget plan and voting rights bill, but would not set a deadline for passage of the infrastructure bill.
Nine moderates who are pushing the House to pass the infrastructure bill first have threatened to vote against the package. That could potentially eliminate it in the House, where Democrats hold a 220-212 majority.
“We have an impasse with some colleagues who have decided to hold the infrastructure bill hostage for months, or kill it altogether if they don’t get what they want in the next bill,” they wrote in the Washington Post on Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sided with liberals who worry they could lose leverage on social spending efforts if they pass the infrastructure bill first. He wants the House to finish working on the two bills by Oct. 1.
“Delaying passage of the budget resolution threatens the historic progress and timetable for delivering on the transformative vision Democrats share,” fellow Democrats wrote Saturday.
No Republicans are expected to support the budget resolution plan, which in Biden’s favor lays out a broad outline of spending on education, child care, health care and climate change, and pays for them with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.
Crucially, the budget resolution plan would allow Democrats to pass those spending measures with a simple majority vote in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes needed for most legislation in that chamber.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote.

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