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Budget package taking shape as Democrats eye aggressive schedule

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Democrats ended the legislative week Friday without a “framework” agreement on their partisan spending and tax package, but leaders said they’d continue negotiating through the weekend on a handful of unresolved issues.

Optimism was so high that Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters the House may vote on the budget reconciliation package next week.

“I’m hopeful,” the California Democrat said. “There are many decisions that have to be made. I would say that more than 90 percent of everything is agreed to.”

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are hoping to reach agreement on a reconciliation framework “no later than the end of the weekend,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said on CNBC Friday morning.

Meeting that deadline would make a floor vote possible but still a daunting task. In floor remarks on next week’s schedule, Hoyer said he could bring the reconciliation package up, along with a separate Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, “if they’re ready.”

The infrastructure bill is not undergoing changes, but progressives have said they would only vote for it if the reconciliation bill is done. Surface transportation programs expire Oct. 31, so Congress will need to pass a short-term extension if the House can’t clear the broader measure.

 

Hoyer indicated the more concrete deadline for getting both bills to the president’s desk is Dec. 3. That’s also the deadline Congress created for funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling with temporary stopgaps enacted over the last month.

“Those are four pieces of big legislation we want to do before Dec. 3,” Hoyer said in floor remarks.

While Democratic leadership was optimistic about getting the reconciliation package finalized, rank-and-file members were more skeptical.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. the Congressional Progressive Caucus whip, said she’s worried leadership’s “deadline-driven” mentality could force progressives to “compromise too much,” like what happened in negotiations in the 2010 health care law.

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