ORLANDO, Fla. — The bill that President Biden sees as the cornerstone of his agenda is facing pushback from an unexpected corner: a group of centrist Democrats that includes U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park.
Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is getting strong support from progressive groups such as Our Revolution, which protested outside Murphy’s office in Orlando last week. Its leaders accuse Murphy of undermining the president.
“There’s a handful of people standing in the way, and she’s positioning herself as the leader of the opposition within the Democratic Party,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, which formed out of the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.
Murphy, however, defended her position as being both fiscally responsible and politically realistic.
“The reconciliation bill contains provisions that touch every element of my constituents’ lives, from the moment they’re born until the moment they die, and then what happens for their future generations,” Murphy said Friday in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “And so I think it’s reasonable to take time to fully understand the proposals and to understand how we are going to pay for [them].”
A reconciliation bill is a budget-focused package that can win Senate approval with all 50 Democratic votes and no GOP votes, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote in that chamber. Otherwise, bills are subject to a GOP filibuster if they don’t get 60 votes.
The reconciliation bill as written includes measures on education, health care, energy, climate change, paid leave and child care and immigration. It would cost $3.5 trillion over 10 years.
Any reconciliation bill would need the support of every Democrat in the Senate, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin has said he would not vote for a bill that large, citing opposition to the increased taxes on the wealthy and corporate tax rate hikes that would be needed to pay for it.
Any House bill that can’t pass the Senate and become law isn’t viable, Murphy said.
“Only bills that get signed into law can actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.