Democrats are racing to meet a self-imposed Wednesday deadline to complete a compromise framework for their $3.5 trillion budget bill that would make historic investments in climate initiatives, public education, and American families’ ability to care for each other. 

The urgent timeline is intended to smooth passage of the bill in the House by the end of September. Frankly, it seems like it would take a miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue to finish the work Wednesday. Here are several of the main sticking points:


Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been complaining a lot about the urgency with which Democrats are working to finish the budget bill by Wednesday.

In a recent oped, Manchin offered, “I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.” On Monday, Manchin told reporters meeting the deadline “would be very hard to do.”

Here’s why: Every day the negotiations drag on is a day closer to Democrats losing the momentum to shepherd a tough bill through Congress with razor-thin majorities. Every day is another day a lobbyist gets in someone’s ear. Every day is another day for Republicans to get in a lawmaker’s head about making historic investments—even if they are overwhelmingly popular.  

Price tag

Both Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have objected to the cost of the bill, which will largely be funded through raising taxes on the country’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. 

Sinema hasn’t outlined her concerns, happy to simply stake out a patch of nonspecific discontent. Manchin made utterances Sunday about things like adding work/education requirements for the child tax credit. 

Here’s the bottom line—House progressives, who have just as much veto power in the lower chamber as Manch-inema do in the upper chamber—view $3.5 trillion as their absolute floor. They sucked it up to vote for Manch-inema’s trillion-dollar bipartisan bill and now the two centrist senators can decide whether to blow up Biden’s legacy bills or get on board.

“We can either spend $3.5 trillion to address the climate now, or we can spend much more than that later—when the crisis has escalated even further and taken even more lives,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus warned Monday.

Tax hikes on the wealthy, corporations

The House tax proposal to help fund the budget bill wasn’t quite as progressive Biden’s was, but it was mainly in the same spirit.

One thing that will have to be added in is repealing state and local tax (SALT) deduction imposed by Republicans’ 2017 that purposely stuck it to taxpayers in New York, New Jersey, and California. A bicameral group of Democratic lawmakers from New York and New Jersey is fixated on that change.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said simply, “I expect the final House bill will include a full repeal … otherwise, it’ll be hard to support it.”

On a different note, the House proposal didn’t include much of wealth tax of any kind, a provision some Senate Democrats would like to see added. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who praised other portions of the House proposal, said she would “like to see us do more to make billionaires, giant corporations, and tax cheats pick up the ticket for this package.” 

Surely, more will come to the fore. Whether they achieve a compromise by Wednesday may not be as important as the fact that they are working with a sense of urgency. The overall investment—$3.5 trillion—still seems the biggest impediment to progress. 

On a tight deadline, Democrats chase compromise over their $3.5 trillion budget bill 1