The powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday launched a six-figure ad campaign pressuring moderate House Democrats to vote against a sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, warning the bill poses an "existential threat" to the economy's recovery from the pandemic.
The ads target Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa, Angie Craig of Minnesota, Antonio Delgado of New York, Josh Harder of California and Elaine Luria of Virginia.
"This reconciliation bill is effectively 100 bills in one representing every big government idea that’s never been able to pass in Congress," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said in a statement. "The bill is an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity."
Democrats are currently crafting a $3.5 trillion bill that seeks to dramatically boost federal investment in education, child care and paid family leave and would be funded by higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.
Although formal legislation has not yet been released, some of the proposals include hiking the corporate rate to 28% from 21% – reversing a key part of Republicans' 2017 tax law. However, given their extremely slim margins in both the House and Senate, Democrats will need to ensure virtually every caucus member votes in lockstep to ensure the bill's passage.
The Chamber of Commerce joins other business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Business Roundtable in lobbying against the proposed tax hikes. It urged Democrats to support the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package, which the Senate approved earlier this month.
"We will not find durable or practical solutions in one massive bill that is equivalent to more than twice the combined budgets of all 50 states," Clark said. "The success of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations provides a much better model for how Congress should proceed in addressing America’s problems."
Party infighting has threatened to derail both the reconciliation package and the infrastructure bill: Progressives say that $3.5 trillion is the bare minimum needed to vastly expand the social safety net and combat climate change. Centrists, however, are wary of another multitrillion-dollar bill after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. deficit to a record high.
With their incredibly slim congressional majorities, Democrats face a delicate balancing act in pursuing their so-called "two-track" agenda – approving both a bipartisan deal and a larger tax and spending bill – or they risk losing the support of either moderate or progressive members.
President Biden is meeting with Democratic lawmakers from across the political spectrum on Wednesday in an attempt to unite the party and ensure the passage of his $4 trillion economic agenda.
"I hope he has the secret sauce," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Biden on Tuesday night. "The president of the United States is always a very influential figure, and I know he wants both bills passed."