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What’s next for Biden’s social spending bill: the Senate fight

Asked about when the Defense Policy Bill would be finally passed on Friday, Senate Armed Services Speaker Jack Reed (DR.I.) laughed and replied, “We have to wait until we get there. to vote. “

The defense policy bill, first on the to-do list, could take up much of the first week of December. The chamber must also fund the government after December 3. Within that timeframe, Democrats don’t expect the Senate to consider the social spending bill until the second week of December, at the earliest.

And that assumes that Manchin (DW.Va.) agrees to move forward by then. Earlier this week, the key centrist did not indicate whether he would vote ‘yes’ to start the debate. With an equally divided Senate, Democrats cannot pass the legislation without Manchin’s backing.

“It will be done by the time we leave in December,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Predicted on Friday. “We will come back, we will try to conclude the [defense policy bill] ..and then we’ll go to [the social spending bill]… This is going to be a wild December month.

The timing of signing Biden’s legislation will also depend on when the Senate parliamentarian completes the so-called ‘Byrd Bath’ process, under which she will determine whether key elements of the bill have direct budgetary effect and therefore can. be adopted by the Senate by simple majority. Democrats will begin presenting their arguments to parliamentarians next week, according to a Democratic aide.

Several provisions of the House bill are expected to change or be deleted entirely in the Senate. House Democrats have included a provision on paid family leave, despite Manchin’s opposition to including the policy in the package. And sections of the immigration reform bill have yet to be approved by the parliamentarian, who halted other Democrats’ attempts to include immigration measures.

Senate Democrats are also divided over the House’s inclusion of a provision that increases the cap on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT, which primarily affects high-cost states, such as New York, New Jersey and California. This amounts to a significant tax break for high income earners, angering progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“I hope Bernie will change the SALT tax,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), who added that outside of immigration reform and SALT, “90 percent of the invoice are blocked “.

The House’s passage of the social spending bill came after months of negotiations between the White House, House progressives, Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona). House Democrats admitted on Friday that changes to the law were inevitable at this point, meaning the House would again have to vote on the bill.

“We did what we think we can do,” said Jim Clyburn (DS.C.) House Majority Whip. “The Senate will do what it thinks it can do. And we will come together on behalf of the American people and try to have a coordinated approach as we move forward into the future.”

Sarah Ferris and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

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