Politics

Durbin doubts talk of reviving Biden’s $1.75T social welfare bill will succeed

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin threw cold water Tuesday on talks of reviving President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill. 

Mr. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who serves as his party’s chief vote counter in the Senate, said he was skeptical a deal could come together before the end of the year.  

“I’ve been burned by this stove enough times,” Mr. Durbin said. “I’m not going to grab it another time.” 

Mr. Biden urged Democratic lawmakers in his first State of the Union address to restart negotiations on the massive spending bill. At the time, the president sought to recast the legislation as a salve for inflation, which has soared nearly 8% over the past year, a 40-year high. 

“When we invest in our workers, when we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out together, we can do something we haven’t done in a long time: build a better America,” Mr. Biden said.

Given solid Republican opposition, the only hope Democrats have for passage is using a party-line procedure known as budget reconciliation. The process allows some tax-and-spending measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority. Both parties have 50 senators, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

Reconciliation proved impossible last year when Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, refused to back the legislation over fears it would exacerbate inflation. After Mr. Biden’s State of the Union remarks, Mr. Manchin reiterated those concerns publicly. “I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” Mr. Manchin said. 

The disunity among Democrats has Mr. Durbin, a supporter of the spending bill, keeping his hopes for success at bay. 

”I am planning to finish this year and hope to guide the Democratic caucus to success, but not assuming that reconciliation be part of it,” said the majority whip. 

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