Democrats in Congress work to pass major spending bills – US politics live


15:51

To put some context to why this week’s negotiations among Democrats are so important, let’s take a look at Joe Biden’s most recent approval ratings.

Last week, Gallup reported Biden’s lowest approval rating of his presidency, dropping to 43%, with 53% now disapproving of the president, according to a survey distributed at the beginning of the month.

After the controversy around Biden’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in August, it may come as no surprise that Biden’s approval ratings have dropped so low. Gallup noted that while presidents tend to have a honeymoon period with their approval ratings, only Donald Trump had as low of approval ratings at a similar point during his presidency. Biden has specifically lost the support of a high percentage of Independents, going from approval of 61% independents to his new low of 36%.

The spending bills that Congress is debating this week will be crucial for the rest of Biden’s presidency, and the Democratic party at large, as his first year as president comes to a close. Biden reportedly spent his weekend at Camp David calling lawmakers, urging them to support the bills.

John Podesta, former counselor to Barack Obama, told Politico that not passing the bills this week would be “disastrous” for Democrats, whose majority in Congress is at risk next year during the 2022 elections.

14:59

14:36

Democrats work to pass major spending bills

Good morning, and welcome to the US politics live blog.

It’s a big week in Washington as Democrats in Congress work to pass three major spending bills.

The House is focused on passing the $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed in the Senate last month. The bill includes $550bn in spending for new funding for roads, public transportation and expanding internet broadband access, among other things.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are trying to avoid a government shutdown that is set to happen on Friday if a bill that would fund the government until December is not passed. Democrats have attached to the spending bill a resolution that would increase the debt ceiling, which Republicans have opposed. Republicans said they will not pass the spending bill unless the debt ceiling measure is removed.

Finally, Democrats in both chambers are ironing out a bill – which is being called the reconciliation bill – worth about $3.5tn that includes some of Joe Biden’s biggest campaign promises. It includes funding to incentivize purchases of electric vehicles, free or subsidized daycare and expansions to Medicare, among other things.

House and Senate Democratic leaders are working to convince their moderate members to pass the bill, though moderates say they won’t budge unless the price of the bill is significantly decreased.

One Washington reporter tweeted that this week is set to be “one of the most intense weeks in Congress”. We’ll be keeping an eye out for developments on these bills and other news today, so stay tuned.