Biden's multi-trillion bet to change America is in peril as Trump waits to pounce
Sep 27, 2021 2 mins, 44 secs
The first package enjoys wide popular support -- and the broader one has had small majority support in some recent polls.

The high stakes help explain why Biden's struggle to enact his ambitious agenda is about more than a legislative wrangle and why it seems unbelievable to outsiders that the biggest roadblock comes from Democrats rather than Republicans.

After Biden admitted Friday that his big infrastructure and spending plans had hit a "stalemate," Democrats spent the weekend battling over the scope, cost and timing and the corporate and individual tax hikes for the wealthy needed to pay for measures that will define the President's term.

Progressives had warned they would scupper the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of Biden's broad push for national unity, if they don't also get a vote on the $3.5 trillion bill to remake the social safety net.

But moderates in the Senate especially worry that the bill is too expensive and expansive and are demanding changes.

The clash encapsulates the ideological struggle at the heart of the Democratic Party and represents a test of Biden's political clout as President and his party's success in leveraging a window of power in the White House and Congress.

Biden's rough political summer, which has seen his approval ratings ebb, amid a resurgence of the pandemic, a messy Afghan withdrawal and a worsening border crisis, means success on Capitol Hill is even more important for his political hopes.

Recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans favor the infrastructure spending on roads, bridges and transportation.

Moderate Democrats, however, fear such a spending spree could cost them their seats, especially in the suburbs that are increasingly important in deciding who runs Washington.

Republicans, wielding a filibuster in the Senate and putting up a brick wall in the House, are meanwhile gleefully increasing the possible political cost to Democrats for passing their gargantuan bills.

A shutdown in possible with the economy on the brink

Adding another layer of complexity is a fight over raising the effective limit on how much money the government can borrow.

Senate Republicans plan to kill that measure because Democrats have included a provision that would raise the debt limit.

The ingredients for a classic Washington meltdown are all in place.

While the bipartisan infrastructure bill is a rare example in recent years of Republicans and Democrats both having a political incentive to work together, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California appear to have settled on a position of total opposition to deny Biden political achievements.

Democrats of all persuasions argue that it is imperative for them to live up to promises made to voters in 2020 to have any chance of clinging onto power in next year's midterm elections, which the redistricting of seats and the history of first-term presidencies suggest are already difficult.

The mood of Democrats has been hit by a series of recent reversals.

Hopes among liberals that the Senate will pass a bill rolling back GOP state measures that suppress voting and make it easier to meddle in future elections look dim unless Manchin and other Democrats overcome their resistance to modifying filibuster rules.

There is no guarantee that passing massive social spending bills will work for Biden and the Democrats politically.

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