By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
As Congress prepares for a series of key votes to pave the way for President Joe Biden’s signature policy legislation, Georgia Democrats raced to drum up support for the far-reaching domestic package with a series of events across Atlanta.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge joined state Democrats Monday to promote Biden’s $3.5 trillion social safety net plan, a massive expansion of education, childcare, healthcare and climate change programs that could reach a vote as early as this week.
Even as House lawmakers scramble to reach a consensus over the plan, which also includes tax increases on wealthy people and corporations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled a Thursday vote for a $1 trillion infrastructure package that passed the Senate last month with bipartisan support.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, vowed the epic bout of voting over the next few days will yield transformative results.
“Though we’re still waiting to see what specifically will be in the final legislation, we’re going to get it done, y’all,” Williams said at an affordable housing development on the city’s westside. “There are too many Georgia families that are counting on us to get it done.”
Pelosi is trying to navigate fractious intraparty factions with little room for error. She can only afford to lose three votes for the social policy plan, which Senate Democrats aim to pass with a simple majority through a process called reconciliation that avoids a filibuster.
First, though, some centrist Democrats want a speedy vote on the infrastructure package, which includes funding to repair crumbling bridges, expand broadband access and combat climate change.
The party’s liberal wing, meanwhile, has threatened to withhold support on the infrastructure measure until the social policy package passes. House Republicans aim to rally support against both measures, framing them as too costly.
State Democrats said the tightrope act would be worth it, bringing vast changes to housing policy. The measure includes tax credits to bolster affordable housing developments, with a goal of building 1.5 million sustainable homes around the country.
“The work that we’re doing in Congress right now to advance meaningful investments in affordable housing will have a positive impact on the lives of so many Georgians who lay at wake at night worrying whether they’ll be able to make the rent,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.
He was echoed by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who said more housing options will “keep families and communities in our state strong.”
“Housing is stability. Housing is dignity,” said Warnock, who is up for re-election in 2022. “Housing is absolutely necessary, critical infrastructure.”
Fudge said the president’s spending initiatives will mark a “defining moment” in the nation’s history.
“They have to pass this bill. We cannot build back better if we don’t do the right thing,” she said. “We can’t build back better if we don’t have broadband in every single house. We can’t build back better when children are still being poisoned by lead.”
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