Eyeing One Big Economic Bill, Democrats Face Myriad Challenges

Eyeing One Big Economic Bill, Democrats Face Myriad Challenges

But lawmakers and aides acknowledge that it is unlikely that Democrats will have the votes for all those ambitions, given that nearly all House Democrats and all 50 senators who caucus with Democrats would have to support it to overcome Republican opposition. On Monday, five House Democrats wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California warning about the fiscal consequences of a huge spending measure, calling for Congress to pass a budget blueprint that “stabilizes the debt as a share of the economy” before taking up spending or tax legislation.

“As we continue to have a national conversation about major infrastructure spending and necessary investments to support hardworking American families, we believe it is critical that we do so responsibly and take meaningful steps to get our fiscal house in order,” the lawmakers wrote. The group included Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

Any reconciliation measure would be subject to strict rules that would most likely force changes or the outright elimination of certain provisions if they are deemed unrelated to federal revenue. Aides and advocacy groups are working to ensure that such measures, particularly those addressing climate change, can remain in the bill.

The Biden administration has called for a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles and consumer rebates to pivot consumers away from combustion engines; tax incentives to drive solar, wind and other clean energy development; and a standard that would require power companies to increase the amount of clean electricity they generate over time until they eventually stop burning fossil fuels.

But the politics could prove tricky: Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, where coal dominates the economy, has expressed skepticism about a clean electricity mandate. A crucial player in the talks on a bipartisan infrastructure package, Mr. Manchin has also declined to publicly commit to supporting the reconciliation package as he works with other Democrats and Republicans to hammer out the details of a far more limited compromise plan totaling $1.2 trillion over eight years, with $579 billion of that in new spending.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another key centrist Democrat, has also declined to say whether she would support a separate reconciliation measure, even as liberals warn that they will not accept the compromise bill without receiving assurances that a reconciliation package would then have the support needed to also pass. A spokesman said Ms. Sinema would consider any idea to strengthen Arizona’s economy, without explicitly addressing the process.

That has led to a complex and freighted dynamic for Democrats on Capitol Hill, in which the discussions around what should be in the reconciliation package hinge in part on the outcome of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, and vice versa.