As we’ve reported in the past, the Democrats have the narrowest of majorities in both the House and the Senate. They can’t afford to lose any Democratic votes in the Senate and only 3 in the House. That’s crucial because Republicans in both Houses are almost unanimously opposed to the legislation Democrats want to pass, so Democrats have to do it on their own.
That matters because there are two other legislative measures the Democrats want to pass before the end of this month: President Biden’s infrastructure bill and a reconciliation (tax and spending) bill. The reconciliation bill is what will set the parameters for funding the government for the next fiscal year.
To make matters worse for them, the Democrats are divided on how to proceed with those bills and unless they can come to an agreement those measures will go nowhere.
The reconciliation bill is one of the most complex tax and spending bills ever contemplated, with virtually no area of the budget or tax code left untouched. The Democrats want it to contain measures that are extremely important to seniors, including dental, hearing and vision benefits being covered by Medicare. They are hoping to craft it in such a way as to only need 51 votes for passage.
They also hope to include prescription drug price reductions in this legislation, something most Republicans have so far refused to support and which the drug industry is spending million in lobbying efforts to stop.