Chuck Schumer is thinking big: the Senate crippled to hell

The vested interest he has in this political moment cannot be understated: After spending the presidency of Donald Trump leading a minority that was trampled by massive tax cuts from the Republican Party and three conservative Supreme Court justices, Schumer is seeking reelection next. year as one of a trio of Democratic Leaders who could rack up accomplishments that rival FDR’s New Deal.

That is if they can pull off their next, much more difficult legislative feat, plunging more than $ 2 trillion in new spending into the economy, while rolling back the Trump-era tax cuts. And Schumer is already selling the idea to his group and the American public.

Sustained and significant growth in jobs, wages and productivity “would change America,” Schumer said by phone as he toured New York counties this week. “America’s sunny optimism would return and the bitterness that is on earth, because people worry about their futures – would dissipate.”

Of course, even with those tantalizing possibilities in front of them, the Democrats have never been easy to lead. That’s why Schumer is trying to keep up the momentum, knowing that the risk of an internal quagmire is always a possibility.

The Senate MP has signaled that he may be able to avoid Republican filibusters several more times in this Congress, which could allow him to pass multiple far-reaching economic bills and reconfigure how majorities exercise their power in the chamber. Whatever package he may pass, it will almost certainly include his electric vehicle plan, as well as his effort to enact aggressive policies toward China that Schumer unsuccessfully pursued in the Trump era, which has potential GOP acceptance as an independent thing. .

A political fighter and sometimes negotiator, such as Majority Leader Schumer speaks with confident generalities such as “failure is not an option,” placating progressives and avoiding confrontations with his moderates. The word “bold” is never far from his mind as he charts the course for a rudimentary majority that lacks the votes to change the filibuster, but is also united in achieving successes for Biden, as Sen. Joe Manchin puts it (DW.Va .) that.

Schumer was able to convince Manchin to take a partisan approach to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus law after much drama in the eleventh hour. But its next round of legislation will be tougher than Covid’s emergency package, which was turned around on a tight schedule due to the expiration of unemployment benefits.

“It is going to be a great challenge. Everyone will have different points of view, “Schumer acknowledged.” But the great thing about the Biden administration is that they are very receptive to listening. “

Manchin has already criticized the bill’s higher corporate tax rates, saying there are half a dozen Democrats who want to reshape the broader proposal. Although Schumer has memorized the phone number for White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and speaks with Biden and senior officials frequently, the rank-and-file Democrats who helped build Schumer’s majority also want to voice their opinion.

“Chuck does a great job of keeping a very disparate group together, you know, but we all have different ideas,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia).

The centrist Warner said he has not yet had a chance to help shape Biden’s plans. But the Majority Leader’s fingerprints are all over the Democratic agenda. Schumer was one of the Democrats who lobbied Biden to increase his coronavirus spending bill with more money for entertainment venues, states and cities, and public transportation – all crucial to New York and its smooth path to a fifth. mandate.

And during last summer’s campaign, Schumer began submitting his clean car bill to Biden’s campaign policy advisor. After Biden won the White House in November, Schumer continued his lobbying to ensure that President’s Build Back Better proposal included important provisions to phase out gasoline cars, according to a source familiar with the interactions.

Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, called Schumer “an extraordinary partner” for Biden.

Schumer is “working tirelessly and skillfully with the full breadth of the diverse Democratic Caucus on landmark legislation to defeat the pandemic and change our economy,” Bates said. Biden “appreciates their shared values ​​and sees their relationship as critical to restoring trust in government.”

At the moment, Schumer’s legislation on China and electric cars seems popular enough to survive the next few weeks of haggling, at least among Democrats.

“There is never a guarantee; I will work hard to see. And I was pleased that the Biden administration included them both. And I think they have broad support, ”Schumer said. On the China package, he added, Republican Senator “Todd Young is my sponsor and he’s working hard on the Republican side, and we talk all the time.”

Young (R-Ind.) Takes a different view of the situation, warning Schumer not to include his legislation in a reconciliation package. Schumer has congressional committees working on its Chinese legislation and hopes to produce a work product, and a vote on the floor, this spring. But if that fails, it could try to pass China’s hawk legislation unilaterally.

“Taking a partisan tax and spending bill and adding a bipartisan bill doesn’t make it any less partisan. While negotiating the Endless Frontier Act, Senator Young warned early on that adding provisions outside of China would kill any hope of Republican support. Even yours, ”said an Indianan Young spokesperson.

When it comes to electric cars, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) complains that Biden’s package focuses more on them than on “traditional infrastructure” like roads and bridges. For Republicans, he said, that’s a “sign that this is being used as a vehicle for parts of the Green New Deal and massive policy changes, rather than modernizing and rebuilding our infrastructure.”

For Schumer, that’s precisely the point.

“I say yes. We need both. This bill does both. It has one of the largest traditional infrastructure funds. [numbers] we’ve seen in a long time, and it recognizes the new “kind of infrastructure,” he said. “The link between the two is employment.”

Republicans are under the impression that Democrats are preparing to lose the House and Senate and are rushing to pass whatever they can before what has historically been a difficult midterm election for the majority party.

But Schumer is not prepared to see Biden’s current multi-million dollar push as the coda into the most fertile period of legislation. In addition to his multiple opportunities to pass great legislation over the next 18 months, he has a great job to do to win back the judiciary after McConnell transformed the courts into a conservative powerhouse.

“We are going to keep working until by-election day,” Schumer said. “We have a lot to do”.

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