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Democrats negotiating with Senate parliamentarian on spending bill

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Democrats negotiating with Senate parliamentarian on spending bill
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters after a weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on November. Schumer told Democrats that negotiations have started with the Senate parliamentarian on the $2 trillion budget bill. Photo Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats pushing President Joe Biden's nearly $2 trillion spending bill began negotiations with Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on what can be considered under budget reconciliation.

In an effort to escape a Republican filibuster over the massive social spending and climate bill, Democrats must convince MacDonoough that all elements of the bill have an impact on federal spending and revenues and not policy with "merely incidental" non-budgetary goals.

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Democratic and Republican staffers have held separate meetings with MacDonough.

Sticking points include immigration provisions that Democrats are trying to make fit the reconciliation guidelines. MacDonough said in September Democrats could not include the immigration provisions, sending them back to the drawing board.

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In a letter to his Democratic caucus Monday, Schumer laid out an ambitious two-week timetable to get the bill negotiated and passed by Christmas.

"Now that the House has passed the reconciliation bill, our goal in the Senate is to pass the legislation before Christmas and get it to the President's desk," Schumer said in the letter, according to CNN.

The bill, though, faces significant hurdles. Democrats Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, continue to express reservations about the bill. The Democrats need their votes in an evenly divided Senate.

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Progressive and moderate Democrats continue to hash out details on the expansion of Medicare, methane fees on energy producers and tax provisions.

Then there is a provision Democratic leaders are pushing that deals with the treatment of state and local tax deductions, which is being rejected by Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and a few others.

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