Politics

Biden narrowly avoids federal paralysis but suffers big setback

The US Congress adopted the budget extension, avoiding a “shutdown”. But the vote on the investment plan wanted by the president was postponed.

The joy was short-lived for Joe Biden. The American president first of all rejoiced Thursday, September 30, Twitter photo in support, the adoption in extremis of the text extending the current budget until December 3, thus avoiding the “ shutdown ”, the paralysis of services federal. But then he saw the vote on his vast infrastructure investment plan postponed by Congress .

Because after hours of frantic negotiations behind the scenes, the vote to definitively approve his historic plan to invest 1,200 billion dollars in the shaky American infrastructures has been postponed indefinitely , the fault of a fratricidal struggle in the Democratic camp .

“There has been a lot of progress this week and we are closer than ever to an agreement,” responded White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “But we haven’t gotten there yet so we’re going to need more time to finish the job”. 

The meeting was adjourned until Friday morning, when negotiations will continue in an attempt to reconcile the Democrats around this plan and a gigantic social reform project defended by Joe Biden.

The left wing of the party wants guarantees 

The infrastructure investment plan, one of the largest in American history, was approved by the Senate in early August with the rare support of a third of Republicans in addition to Democrats. 

The Democratic President of the House Nancy Pelosi had pledged to organize a final vote this week with centrist elected officials, anxious to validate as quickly as possible this very popular project with the voters.

But the left wing of the party had promised to defeat this vote, furious at not having received a clear commitment from centrist senators – Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin – that they would in turn approve the social component, d ‘a titanic amount of 3.500 billion dollars. 

If they control Congress, the Democratic majority in the Senate is so short that any defection can destroy the chances of passage of this text. And the particularly aggressive tone of some parliamentarians Thursday evening did not seem to augur easy negotiations this Friday, October 1. 

But Nancy Pelosi, veteran of Congress and expert in parliamentary negotiations, did not throw in the towel. The Biden administration had for its part tried to prepare public opinion for this postponement. “It is not a major cataclysm if there is no vote today,” Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm said on CNN . However, time is running out: Democrats risk losing their majorities in the parliamentary elections in November 2022.

Another challenge: the debt ceiling

In parallel with this turf war, Congress must agree to raise or suspend the debt ceiling as soon as possible, before October 18. A default by the world’s leading power would throw international finance into uncharted waters.

Well aware of the danger, Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on how to avoid it.

In a deeply divided Congress, the subject has become highly political, because the opposition has knowingly linked the question of the debt to the program of Joe Biden of which it denounces the exorbitant cost, in their eyes. 

The Republicans therefore absolutely refuse to participate in any measure aimed at raising the debt ceiling. However, they have a blocking minority in the Senate.

Democrats retort that only a tiny fraction of this debt was accumulated under the tenure of the 46th President of the United States. And that it is in fact about paying the “credit cards” of Donald Trump and previous presidents. 

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