Schumer Warns Democrats to Expect a Busy July
The top Senate Democrat confirmed that he intends to hold votes both on an infrastructure plan and a budget blueprint that could pave the way for a more expansive economic and social policy bill.
‘We have a lot of work to do.’ Schumer warns Democrats to expect a busy July.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington last month.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
July 9, 2021, 1:53 p.m. ET
Late nights. Weekend votes. Maybe even the cancellation of part of Congress’s prized August recess. The Senate’s top leader warned Democrats on Friday to expect an arduous sprint when the chamber returns to session next week to try to push forward much of President Biden’s ambitious economic agenda in two hulking bills.
In a letter mapping out the weeks ahead, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, confirmed that before the Senate leaves town for the summer, he intends to hold votes on both a bipartisan infrastructure package and a budget blueprint for a much larger Democratic bill focused on health care, the environment and social services.
“Please be advised that time is of the essence and we have a lot of work to do,” Mr. Schumer wrote. “Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously scheduled August state work period.”
Democratic leaders are hoping the specter of squandered plans will help motivate senators to get through a crush of complicated legislative work that could yield some of the most impactful policy in a decade. If Mr. Schumer is successful, it would advance the largest investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure in generations and pave the way for a vote by late September to adopt a dramatic expansion of the social safety net and aggressive programs to fight climate change.
But they are likely to face a minefield of challenges in the weeks ahead, any of which could derail the process. A group of moderate Democrats and Republicans agreed to a $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure framework late last month, but they still have to turn it into legislation that can win 60 votes in the Senate and pass the Democratic-led House, which has its own alternative proposal.
At the same time, Democrats will be undertaking a separate effort to push through a far broader economic package using a budget maneuver known as reconciliation that would allow them to sidestep a Republican filibuster. Moderates and progressives are at odds over how much to spend on that measure, which would require the support of all 50 Democrats and independents.
Progressives led by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont are pushing for up to $6 trillion in new spending, paid for by tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, but potentially also new debt. Moderates led by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia are eyeing a figure that may be one third of that or less, and are wary of deficit spending.
In his letter, Mr. Schumer said that Democrats would also use its session this month to confirm more judges nominated by Mr. Biden, including a potential nominee to the Supreme Court should a vacancy open up. The comment was a reference to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 82, the leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, whom many Democrats are hoping will retire while their party still has the votes to confirm a replacement.
“As always, Senate Democrats stand ready to expeditiously fill any potential vacancies on the Supreme Court should they arise,” Mr. Schumer wrote.