Senate Democrats want to pass reconciliation package ‘before Thanksgiving’, Schumer says
More than 100 million US workers must be vaccinated by 4 January, Biden administration says
House speaker Nancy Pelosi would not provide any additional details about when the chamber might vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.
“I’ll let you know as soon as I wish to,” the Democratic speaker told reporters at her weekly press conference.
But Pelosi specifically said she would not take up the infrastructure bill without a simultaneous vote on the reconciliation package. House progressives have already made clear they would not support a standalone vote for the infrastructure bill.
The speaker acknowledged she was “very unhappy” that the infrastructure bill did not pass last week, but she said she will not bring the two proposals to the floor until she has the votes to pass them.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said he wants the upper chamber to pass the $1.75tn reconciliation package “before Thanksgiving”, which falls on 25 November this year.
“So as the House prepares to move forward, the Senate continues to achieve progress in our goal of passing Build Back Better before Thanksgiving. That’s our goal,” Schumer said on the Senate floor moments ago.
The Democratic leader added, “We are moving forward because the challenges American families and workers are facing are enormous, and President Biden’s agenda has many things that will lower costs to help families pay the bills.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is now holding her weekly press conference and may offer an update on the timing of votes in her chamber. Stay tuned.
Eric Berger reports on the recent surge in coronavirus hospitalizations in Colorado:
A recent surge in Covid-19 cases around Colorado has increased the number of unvaccinated patients needing care and prompted concerns that hospitals may have to ration services for other issues.
“If you have been waiting for an elective procedure for the last 18 months and are finally scheduled – you’re vaccinated, you don’t have Covid – your procedure might still get canceled if a hospital is totally full,” said Dr Anuj Mehta, a pulmonologist with Denver Health who serves on the governor’s expert emergency epidemic response committee.
“While this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated at this point – and the surges in the hospital are entirely being driven by unvaccinated folks – it is having a massive bleed-over effect on to the entire population.”
There are about 1,300 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in Colorado, according to the New York Times data; that’s the highest number since December 2020, when more than 1,900 patients were hospitalized.
That number has increased by 15% over the last two weeks, the third largest increase in the country, and at a time when the national picture for the US is of a Delta variant surge that is firmly on the way down.
The trend in Colorado can be attributed in part to the almost 40% of the state population that has not been vaccinated and people again gathering indoors without masks. It also shows that, despite the national downward trends of infections, regional spikes can still happen that can cause havoc in state healthcare systems.
Joe Biden has issued a statement praising his administration’s new rules requiring coronavirus vaccinations for more than 100 million American workers.
“For our country, the choice is simple: get more people vaccinated, or prolong this pandemic and its impact on our country,” the president said.
“Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic. And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements – and they are working.”
Pointing to polls showing most Americans support vaccine requirements, Biden noted that such mandates have been in effect for other diseases for decades.
“I’m calling on employers to act,” Biden said. “Businesses have more power than ever before to accelerate our path out of this pandemic, save lives, and protect our economic recovery.”
More than 100 million American workers must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by 4 January, according to two new rules issued by the Biden administration.
The first rule, issued by the labor department’s occupational safety and health administration (Osha), applies to those who work for companies with 100 or more employees.
Those employees must be fully vaccinated by 4 January or receive weekly coronavirus tests to mitigate the potential spread of the virus among coworkers.
According to a fact sheet from the White House, that rule will impact roughly 84 million working Americans.
The second policy, issued by the centers for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) at the department of health and human services, requires workers at healthcare facilities to be fully vaccinated by 4 January.
But the 17 million Americans impacted by the CMS policy will not have the option to test out of the vaccination requirement.
Joe Biden announced in September that he was taking additional steps to boost vaccination rates in the US, but his administration has only just finalized the details of some of those policies.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer was asked whether he believes the chamber may hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package today.
“It’s been close for a long time. We’ll see,” Hoyer said, per Politico.
House Democratic leaders are now holding a meeting, so Hoyer may soon have an update on the timing of the votes.
And House speaker Nancy Pelosi is also scheduled to hold a press conference in about an hour. Stay tuned.
Joe Manchin also warned Democrats against going “too far left” with their $1.75tn reconciliation package, as progressives call for robust investments in healthcare, childcare and climate initiatives.
“We just have to work together. We can’t go too far left,” Manchin told CNN this morning.
“This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center, if anything, a center-right country.”
Manchin described himself as “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate” and he argued most Americans “in the middle” of the political spectrum view themselves the same way.
Speaking to his progressive colleagues, Manchin said, “Realize what can and can’t be done. Don’t force basically something that’s not going to happen to make people believe it will.”
Senator Joe Manchin is still expressing concerns about the House version of the reconciliation package, specifically the proposal to fund four weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Manchin, one of two Democratic holdouts in the Senate as the party crafts the reconciliation package, previously pushed to eliminate the paid leave proposal because of its cost.
“I don’t think it belongs in the bill,” Manchin told CNN this morning.
The West Virginia senator warned that, if the paid leave program were funded through reconciliation, Republicans would end the policy once they took control of Congress.
“Let’s get it done in regular order through the process,” Manchin said.
Of course, Manchin also opposes altering or eliminating the Senate filibuster, meaning such a bill would likely need 60 votes to pass. And there is currently no path to attract 10 Republican votes on a paid leave bill.
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
House Democrats are still hoping to approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $1.75tn reconciliation package by the end of the week.
Majority leader Steny Hoyer indicated that the House may vote on the two bills as soon as today, despite ongoing arguments among Democrats over the specifics of the reconciliation package.
The potential votes come two days after Democrats suffered a bruising loss in the gubernatorial race of Virginia, a state that Biden carried by 10 points last year.
Asked about the Virginia defeat yesterday, Joe Biden acknowledged that voters are frustrated with Democrats’ delays in advancing his economic agenda.
“I do know that people want us to get things done. They want us to get things done,” Biden said.
“And that’s why I’m continuing to push very hard for the Democratic party to move along and pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill.”
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
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