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Congress Delays Schedule to Resolve Budget Disputes

December 6, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Congress Delays Schedule to Resolve Budget Disputes
U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The stopgap spending bill President Joe Biden signed last week keeps the federal government running but did nothing to resolve differences of opinion that are forcing Congress to extend its legislative session.

It was supposed to end this week. The House already voted for a one-week extension. The Senate expects to stay in session until Christmas.

Bickering over a vaccine mandate for employers is a primary point of contention.

Biden wants mid-to-large employers to require COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers, usually at the expense of the employers. Republicans propose a bill to eliminate the requirement.

Some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are joining the Republicans.

“I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses,” Manchin said.

Other disputes focus on Biden’s social and climate proposals under the Build Back Better plan, defense spending and raising the debt ceiling.

Biden tried to drum up support for his nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better plan during a televised speech Monday. He discussed how it would lower prescription prices by setting caps on them and subsidizing health insurance.

“We pay the highest prescription drug prices of any developed country in the world,” Biden said.

Other parts of the plan would support environmentally friendly jobs, invest heavily in infrastructure and expand free child care. Republicans say it would be inflationary.

The House already approved the Build Back Better plan. Senate leaders hope to vote on it before Christmas.

The National Defense Authorization Act is scheduled for a final vote this week, indicating differences that stalled the bill for months are close to resolution. Questions about how tough the United States should get toward China led to several amendments.

One of them would ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region, where the Biden administration accuses the Chinese military of genocide against Uyghur Muslims.

Once again, financing government projects is prompting warnings from the Treasury Department. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says Congress faces a Dec. 15 deadline to raise the nation’s borrowing limit or the government will run out of money.

Republicans advise against saddling the economy with more debt that could take money away from more important priorities.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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