Originally, Democratic leaders hoped to quickly push the $3.5 trillion budget through the House by the end of September. Lawmakers worked feverishly to meet that deadline, but it became clear that more time would be needed to craft a bill acceptable to moderates in the narrowly held upper chamber.
Leaders hesitantly pushed the deadline forward to the end of October.
After setting this deadline, Schumer told his colleagues that “Doing big things in Congress is hard. Doing really big things all at once is really hard.” Leadership knew “from the very beginning” that passing the two bills would be “difficult and, at times, messy,” Schumer said.
But, he said, “[Democrats] can get this done, together, if we put aside our differences and find the common ground within our party.”
This “will require sacrifice,” he said, adding that “not every member will get what he or she wanted.”
Despite these divisions, Schumer said, “we will pass legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of the American people. I believe we are going to do just that in the month of October.”
“We will and must pass both bills soon,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to colleagues announcing the extension.
But as this new deadline rapidly approaches, seemingly little progress has been made, and the rank and file in the upper chamber are growing frustrated.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) expressed the general mood among the party, saying, “I desperately want a compromise here. But the time is now to get this done.”
He insisted that proponents of the budget bill are willing to be “flexible” with moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have been the most outspoken critics of their party’s budget.
During an interview with MSNBC, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) warned that the long delay is hurting the image of President Joe Biden and the party.
“It’s undermining the vision of all the accomplishments we will have as being highly significant,” Merkley said. “I don’t know if soap opera or a nightmare soap opera is the right wording, but we’re in big trouble right now with this extended, getting-nowhere negotiation.”
The situation, Merkley ruled, “has to come to an end.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the progressive chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and author of the budget framework, told reporters that a “vast majority” of his Senate colleagues feel the same way.
“There is a growing understanding that the working families of this country want real change, that there have been quote unquote negotiations, month after month after month, and that it is now time to fish or cut bait,” Sanders said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a Friday press conference that the party is “getter closer” to reaching an agreement.
Pelosi claimed the same, telling reporters that “More than 90 percent of everything is agreed to.”
But Manchin, who controls a crucial swing vote, is not so confident.
Speaking to reporters, Manchin agreed that the negotiations are “making good progress,” but insisted that much more time will be needed for an agreement to be reached.
“There’s a lot of details,” Manchin explained. Until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make final decisions until you actually see.”
He continued, “You can have the intent. You have to make sure the text matches the intent.”
“This is not gonna happen any time soon guys,” the West Virginia Democrat warned.
The party remains conflicted the specifics of climate policies, prescription drug pricing, top line spending, and revenue schemes.
Despite the demands of exhausted supporters of the budget bill, its success ultimately lies on the shoulders and timetables of moderates, who have made clear that they are ready to vote against a budget that they do not approve of.