The United States avoided the paralysis of federal services in extremis on Thursday, but several other fronts still threaten the presidency of Joe Biden, who is trying to rally the Democratic troops, mired in a fratricidal war around his vast investment projects and reforms.
The Democratic president signed a finance law that extends the current budget until December 3, passed earlier by the House of Representatives and the Senate with comfortable majorities.
If they finally quite easily dismissed the threat of budgetary paralysis, nicknamed ” shutdown “, The parliamentarians are engaged in much more arduous discussions to prevent the United States from being able to honor its payments from October 18, which implies for Congress to raise the limit ofindebtedness from the country.
A default by the world’s leading power would throw international finance into uncharted waters. Well aware of the danger, Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on how to avoid it.
In a deeply divided Congress, the subject became highly political, as the opposition knowingly linked the debt issue to a historic Joe Biden plan.
The president is planning $ 3.5 trillion to fundamentally reform the social fabric of the United States and invest heavily in the fight against climate change.
An exorbitant madness, denounce the Republicans, who therefore absolutely refuse to participate from near or far in any measure aimed at raising the debt ceiling.
However, they have a blocking minority in the Senate. They are urging Democrats to employ a parliamentary maneuver that would allow them to endorse it with only their narrow majority.
Much too “risky”, judge the Democratic leaders, because it requires too much time while parliamentarians have less than three weeks to avoid a default. They insist that only a tiny part of this debt was accumulated under the mandate of Joe Biden, who arrived at the White House in January. It is in fact to pay the “credit cards” of Donald Trump, attack the Democrats, and those of previous presidents.
They therefore call on the Republicans to cooperate. No way out is obvious for the moment.
Doubts about infrastructure
At the same time, an internal war between the left wing of the Democrats and the more centrist threatens the heart of Joe Biden’s program.
Proud of his long experience as a senator, the president is increasing meetings at the White House this week in an attempt to rally his troops around his two colossal investment plans.
On the one hand, the historic plan to invest 1,200 billion dollars in American infrastructure, also supported by Republicans.
On the other, the titanic section on social reforms wanted by the Democrats alone.
The Senate had approved in August the infrastructure plan, which was to be submitted to a final vote in the House on Thursday. But dozens of elected members of the Democratic left wing threaten to derail this vote, furious at not having received more guarantees that the vast plan of social reforms will also be adopted.
They are wary of two centrist senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who claim that its amount is too high. The Democratic majorities are so narrow that any defection could kill this plan.
The White House was however relatively confident Thursday. “We are working to be able to win a vote tonight. There are still several hours left to this day, ”said spokesperson Jen Psaki.
But the sling is so strong that it seemed difficult, in the early evening, for the plan to be approved definitively, and so this vote could well end up being deprogrammed.
The adoption of the two gigantic projects would then be postponed. And the Biden administration was already trying Thursday to prepare public opinion for this eventuality. “This is not a major cataclysm if there is no vote today,” Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm told CNN.
But here too, time is running out: the Democrats risk losing their majorities in the parliamentary elections in November 2022.