Broad budget package could give Senate Democrats a midterm boost

These provisions have drawn the ire of many environmental activists, as well as Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has lobbied to have the fossil fuel policies removed from the bill.

“There’s a kind of overreaction about some of the fossil provisions. A lot of it is kind of forward-looking things like leasing,” said political science professor and policy researcher Paasha Mahdavi. environmental at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in an interview, noting that many rental acres are never actually used for oil and gas drilling. “So it’s really a much smaller footprint from an emissions perspective than most people realize.”

Several popular provisions once hailed by Democrats as essential policies, especially in the pandemic economy, including the monthly child tax credit and universal paid family leave, did not make it into the bill.

“The real elephant in the room is the lack of a child tax credit. And they couldn’t get it because Manchin thought it was too expensive, and he didn’t want to incur any more deficit spending, and it’s something that would have hit people right away if they put it in there,” said Todd Belt, professor and director of the political management program at George Washington University, in an interview. “The problem with the other provisions of the bill is that they are very, you know, forward. The effects are really the future and definitely, definitely after Election Day.”

Medicare won’t be able to start negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies until 2026 and the effects of climate change policies are directed to the long term, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by about 40% by 2030 .

“Democrats don’t have the ability to say, ‘Look at your pocket books, we’re making things better. They have to say, “Trust us, we’ve done things that will make things better. It’s a much harder sell during the midterm elections. But they can say, “Look, we’re doing something about the environment that we promised to do.” And that’s a big deal for Gen Z, who practically handed over the White House to Joe Biden,” Belt said.

For many, the package is heralded as a legislative victory for Democrats, particularly for senators heading into the campaign trail and seeking to retain power in November’s midterms.

“It certainly gives Democratic senators something to talk about on the campaign trail. It gives the party a win and puts Republicans in a position to come up with an argument as to why you would oppose, for example, price caps on insulin, that which is very, very popular,” Algara said. “As to whether this will fundamentally change the campaign after Labor Day, I’m a little skeptical. And the reason we’re still in this larger inflationary situation [context]it weighs on President Biden’s approval rating.”

The president’s party traditionally loses congressional seats in midterm elections, a worrying trend for Democrats who have few seats to spare without losing their majority.

“I think the Democrats are pretty much guaranteed to lose the House. But I think the Senate is a toss up,” Algara said.

Belt said Republicans might have given Democrats even more victories by unilaterally voting against the legislation.

“I think they’re helped a bit by the Republicans who completely oppose it. I think that helps the Democratic message. If you’re right against everything, then why are you?” he said.

With the November election still months away, the fact that the Senate stayed in session an extra weekend and the House returned from recess on Friday to pass a bill few have seen made this month- this could be a useful tool for Democrats.

“There are a lot of things that will affect how the midterm elections play out in November, but one of the concerns Democrats had was that their grassroots voters would be somehow demoralized by a lack of legislative action. And one of the things that we’ve seen over the last few weeks is actually a pretty active Congress. And this bill is probably going to be the cornerstone of that,” said Molly Reynolds, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, in an interview.

The bill capped a productive few weeks before lawmakers hit the road for August recess, following votes to pass legislation to bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing output and funding. veterans medically affected by exposure to toxic combustion fireplaces.

“If you write the history of the 117th Senate, it will be a story of, ‘Oh my God, when the pivotal vote is a Democratic senator from West Virginia, it’s remarkable that they were able to do so much,'” Algara said. .

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