An Oregon House Democrat is "concerned" about the price tag of President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget plan, a sentiment that could threaten the White House's ability to deliver on a crucial piece of its domestic agenda.
During a Tuesday virtual town hall, Rep. Kurt Schrader said while it was "really nice to see" bipartisan support for a $550 billion infrastructure plan, he is "concerned about the amount of money involved" in the multitrillion-dollar megabill championed by Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).
"The speaker also is trying to go along with another package the president is interested in on some of the key social issues out there," Schrader said. "I am concerned about the amount of money involved with that. So far, they're talking about whether or not they're going to pay for that."
Schrader is not the only congressional Democrat to express wariness about the bill's price tag, a trend that endangers Biden's economic ambitions. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) told his partymates Wednesday to "hit the pause button" on the legislation, citing "runaway inflation." One day later, he penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed to detail why he "won't support spending another $3.5 trillion."
"Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic," Manchin wrote. "Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt, or the inevitability of future crises. Ignoring the fiscal consequences of our policy choices will create a disastrous future for the next generation of Americans."
The legislative battle highlights the fissures that have emerged since Democrats gained narrow control of both legislative chambers in the 2020 election, as well as the White House. The party's liberal wing is threatening to toss aside the Senate-passed, bipartisan infrastructure bill if Congress fails to vote on the $3.5 trillion plan. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), for example, sparred with Sen. Krysten Sinema over the Arizona Democrat's refusal to back the costly bill.
"Good luck tanking your own party's investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you'll survive a three-vote House margin—especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment,'" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in late July.
Schrader, Pelosi, and the White House did not return requests for comment.
Despite the intraparty squabbles, House Rules Committee chair Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) attempted to reassure voters that the party would deliver on Biden's proposal.
"We will be able to work out a deal that our moderates will go along with," he told Bloomberg TV on Thursday.