Christmas is less than two weeks away, meaning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is running out of time to meet his goal of passing President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion spending bill before lawmakers break for the holiday — and a final deal on the measure hasn’t been reached yet.
Over the weekend, Schumer met with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with other senators to hammer out the bill’s tax section, but Manchin remains a holdout over concerns about rising inflation, and in a 50-50 Senate, it will take all Democrats to say yes to the bill, reports Politico.
“It’s tough,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said of Schumer’s push, noting that the New York Democrat’s stress level “truly does depend on the day. He’s been under some pressure. You can tell it from his voice. Other days are fine. I think this has been a good week for him.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., however, said that the “frantic stage” is “usually a good sign.”
But there is still much to do in the 12 days that remain until Christmas. The bill’s text still needs to be finalized, and then Schumer and other Democrats face a fight over how much of the bill the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, who could end up determining that several key parts of the bill, including immigration and healthcare, do not comply with spending bill rules.
There is still also the question about whether Schumer will be able to deliver Manchin’s vote, a difficult task considering the West Virginian’s criticisms about the bill’s cost.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she does have faith that Schumer will get Manchin to say yes to the bill so it can be passed before Christmas. Manchin’s latest concern is about including paid leave in the bill.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told Politico that Schumer “handles things. He’s a guy from New York. He figures things out.”
And as far as securing Manchin’s vote, that “falls to all of us. It falls most on him,” Brown said.
The Senate has been putting changes to the bill, meanwhile, including releasing critical updates on its health and tax sections Saturday.
Meanwhile, expanded child tax credits run out at the end of the year if the spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, doesn’t pass, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Schumer is using that loss as the “forcing mechanism”
But, Kaine said “we’re all stressed” from the stakes of whether the bill passes with full approval from the full 50 Democrats.
Republicans, meanwhile, are insisting that Schumer won’t meet the Christmas deadline.
“No. He’s not going to get it done this year,” Sen. John Cornyn said. “Every day that goes by it’s going to be harder to do.”
Schumer has had his successes this year though, including passing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package, and legislation that backs U.S. competitiveness with China.