Senate Republicans are forcing Democrats to take a public position on some of their party’s most controversial issues during a marathon voting session on the $ 3 party line “human infrastructure” spending bill. $ 5 billion from President Biden.
Republican senators have tabled hundreds of amendments to a resolution necessary to begin drafting the multi-million dollar package. Democrats, in a 50-50 split house, plan to pass the package using the Senate budget reconciliation process, which allows spending measures to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote obstructionist hurdle and pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, when Vice President Kamala Harris may cast the tiebreaker vote.
Since the $ 3.5 trillion package does not need Republican votes and is unlikely to get them due to its substance, Republicans aim to make the process as politically painful as possible for Democrats.
“Today the American people will learn exactly what the position of each of their senators is,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. “We are going to discuss it right here on the ground quite carefully. Every senator will be registered over and over and over again. ”
An important part of the amendments is influenced by what will be included in the package.
Democrats have dubbed the $ 3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill in hopes that it will be easier to sell to voters, a complement to the $ 1 trillion physical infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate on a bipartisan basis on Tuesday. In reality, however, the legislation amounts to a wish list of liberal priorities: amnesty for illegal immigrants, free community college, and the repeal of Trump-era tax cuts, among others.
“Today we are taking this country in a very different direction,” said the Senate Budget Committee, Bernard Sanders, a self-confessed socialist from Vermont who is responsible for crafting the package. “We will use [reconciliation] to help working families in our country and not just the rich and powerful. ”
Included in the $ 3.5 trillion package are new regulations on climate change, specifically incentives for electric utilities to ditch coal and natural gas. Also included is funding for a “civil climate body” to put young Americans to work on green energy projects. Many Democrats see the spending package as a way to fulfill the promises the party and candidate Joe Biden made to the electorate by winning the White House, Senate and House in elections last November.
Republicans say both provisions show that Democrats have embraced the polarizing Green New Deal as the center of their climate change agenda.
“Democrats want to use their reckless taxes and spending spree to impose this new green disaster on all Americans,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming. “It is socialism masquerading as environmental policy.”
As an example of the political stance awaiting lawmakers, Barrasso, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, pushed for an amendment to the package that prohibits the implementation of the Green New Deal.
Twelve Democratic supporters of the Green New Deal, including Sanders and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, criticized the amendment as “a tired and failed Republican attempt to throw obstacles in the way of climate action.”
“The power of the Green New Deal has struck a chord in this country,” they said in a statement. “Americans see how a Green New Deal can transform our economy and democracy to address climate change.”
Despite the harsh rhetoric, all 50 Senate Democrats voted in favor of the amendment to deny Republicans any political influence. Barrasso, however, was unfazed by the vote, arguing that it showed just how toxic politics was among ordinary voters.
“Senate Democrats are running from the Green New Deal,” he said. “The entire Senate has now rejected these failed ideas.”
In addition to pressuring Democrats to take a position on climate change, Republicans have also tabled amendments to oppose the removal of police funding, prevent an expansion of the Internal Revenue Service, and ensure schools reopen to in-person instruction.
Senator James Lankford, in particular, is pressuring Democrats to make an official statement on abortion. The Oklahoma Republican has introduced an amendment to prevent taxpayer funds from funding abortions.
“Just because a child is in the womb does not mean that the law should treat him differently,” he said. “My amendment reaffirms the long-term agreement that no taxpayer dollars funds abortion and no American should be punished for refusing to participate in an abortion.”
The issue had long received bipartisan support, but in recent years Democrats have abandoned it.
While most of the amendments are unlikely to be successful, most Republicans see the process as an opportunity to inform the public about what they see as the “radical transformation” that Democrats had in store for the country.
“This giant of a spending bill is full of radical left wing politics [from] amnesty for the illegals … to massive tax increases that will destroy Montana’s small businesses, farms and ranches, ”said Senator Steve Daines, a Montana Republican. “Passing this liberal policy wish list at the taxpayer’s expense is wrong and leads our country into a dangerous turn to the left.”
Republicans are also likely to make the party line spending package one of the main campaign themes of the 2022 midterm elections. Mr. Daines, who was just reelected last year, has already come out with a new video on social media warning Montanans about “extravagant spending by Democrats.”