As the Senate majority leader checks off his chamber’s list of must-pass bills, he’s turning to the urgent task of passing President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion social safety net bill before the long holiday break. Just a few obstacles lie in his way: Joe Manchin’s concern over rising inflation, the need for total party unity and only a few days left to meet his goal of final passage by Christmas. Oh, yeah, and the final deal isn’t finished yet.
Nonetheless, Democrats say Schumer is pressing forward on his repeated vows to finish work on the climate and social policy legislation in the next two weeks. Before senators scattered all over the country for the weekend, Schumer held meetings with Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and groups of senators working to finalize the bill’s tricky tax section…
Schumer’s deft work with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that dispensed of a debt crisis, a government shutdown risk and the annual defense policy bill were his first steps toward getting the social spending package on the Senate floor. But passing the party-line legislation will be Schumer’s toughest test yet as majority leader, capping off a grinding year that kept his hands full from the moment he took the reins of American history’s longest-running 50-50 Senate.
In the coming days, Schumer and his members must first finalize bill text, then finish fighting with Republicans on how much of the legislation will survive the scrutiny of a nonpartisan parliamentarian who may pare back immigration, health care and other provisions as noncompliant with the rules. Putting the whole measure on the floor will be even trickier, particularly as Manchin’s ambivalence vexes the Democratic caucus.