EXCLUSIVE – House Democrats are in a “difficult position” over infrastructure because of a series of politically charged votes Senate Republicans forced last week on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, according to a new memo authored by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s team.
As the House returns from recess next week, Senate Republicans are circulating the memo obtained first by Fox News, that outlines the infrastructure drama that awaits House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democrats as they seek to pass President Biden’s infrastructure and spending plans.
“Because of successful Senate Republican amendments, House Democrats could be forced to pass a budget resolution that upholds mainstream values antithetical to their radical positions,” the Senate Republican Communications Center memo says.
The memo is dated Monday and titled: “Senate’s Vote-A-Rama Leaves House Democrats In A Difficult Position.”
Senate Republicans are touting their political successes during an overnight “vote-a-rama” last week when they offered a series of messaging amendments and forced Democrats to take some “difficult votes” on changes to their budget resolution.
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Among the measures Republicans listed as successes are GOP amendments to block federal funds from being used to promote the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), another to prohibit the Biden administration from banning hydraulic fracturing and a third to ban taxpayer dollars for funding abortions.
The latter is “a major problem for radical House Democrats who want taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions,” the memo states, referring to House Democrats’ efforts to get rid of the long-standing Hyde Amendment that prevents federal dollars from going to abortion coverage.
The Republican memo also calls out all 50 Democrats for voting against GOP-authored amendments aimed at ensuring schools are open for in-person learning, blocking COVID-19 positive migrants from entering the U.S. and additional funding for the military.
In one instance not mentioned in the memo, Democrats rejoiced at the chance to go on the record and support Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s amendment against defunding the police. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said he wanted to give Tuberville a “hug” for putting to rest “scurrilous” accusations that Senate Democrats want to strip law enforcement of money. The final vote on that was unanimous approval – 99-0.
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The amendments are non-binding, meaning when Democrats author and potentially approve the final bill language they can essentially ignore these votes that serve mostly as fodder for political attacks.
After the marathon amendment session, Senate Democrats ultimately passed the massive $3.5 trillion budget framework on Wednesday that will serve as the vehicle for Biden’s so-called human infrastructure spending plan on healthcare, childcare, climate change and education priorities. The Senate Tuesday also passed a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill to invest in physical projects like roads, bridges, transit and broadband access.
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Both bills now are in the hands of the House, where Pelosi holds a slim majority and must balance the competing concerns of the progressive and moderate wings of her party. Pelosi has said she wants to pass the two bills in tandem, which will force moderates to stomach the massive $3.5 trillion plan they think goes too far, and progressives to back the smaller bipartisan bill they say falls short.
The House returns the evening of Aug. 23 to consider the budget resolution framework. The hard work lies ahead as Senate Democrats still have to write the actual text and details of the budget bill that’s expected to include universal pre-kindergarten, expanded Medicare access, two free years of community college, subsidized child care, legalizing undocumented immigrants and climate change initiatives.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., set a Sept. 15 deadline for his committee chairs to write up the thorny details, which will set up another dicey vote in the Senate on final passage. Using a process called budget reconciliation, the Democrats’ self-described “transformational” spending plan will not require any GOP support if all 50 Democrats stay united.
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Senate Republicans are unanimously opposed to the spending plan, which would be funded through tax hikes on corporations and wealthy Americans. In the memo, McConnell’s team dubbed the initiative a “reckless tax and spending spree” and “the largest tax increase in American history.”