Time Running Out for Democratic Deals

Coming back from the long holiday weekend, much remains uncertain in Washington. The debt limit crisis has been temporarily averted, but the new deadline is less than eight weeks away. Congress also kicked the can down the road on government funding to narrowly avoid a shutdown, and has not yet passed any of the 12 annual appropriations bills.

And, of course, the bipartisan infrastructure bill remains bound up with a Democratic-only social spending and climate bill. Democrats themselves have yet to figure out what that bill will include or how much it will cost. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are holding firm against too big a bill — and their support will be needed for Democrats to get anything done in the 50-50 Senate.

President Biden has been curiously detached from all of these matters, regularly repeating his talking points on his Build Back Better agenda but not doing much to get infrastructure through the closely divided House. The Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill has put the essential annual spending bills on the back burner as they focus on getting the social spending package done.

While most observers think Democrats will ultimately work out some number on that package that both the two senators and House progressives can swallow, success is about more than just reaching a number. Budgets must be written, and multiple rounds of votes held. Democrats have no leeway on any of this — and time is running out.

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