WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden puts his party on notice that the $3.5 trillion price tag on his social safety net agenda will get to secure a deal, congressional Democrats are confronting fresh divisions over how to scale back.
In recent days, some Democrats have begun pushing to narrow the scope of the package to a few programs and to make them permanent so a future Republican-led Congress or White House cannot let them lapse.
Others want to seize the rare opportunity of one-party control to create a host of new programs with expiration dates to meet price considerations, planning to battle Republicans in future elections if they try to end them. Lawmakers have long dreaded the dilemma, and tough decisions are nearing as two centrist Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — play hardball to slash the overall spending.
"We think we need to do a few things better, for longer, to provide that consistency," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., the chair of the 95-member New Democrat Coalition.