UPDATE, 6:33 AM PT, October 29: Thursday came and went without a vote on a centerpiece of Joe Biden’s agenda, a massive infrastructure package.
House progressives nixed the idea, all while endorsing the Build Back Better plan. Now it looks like there could be a vote on both massive bills in the next week or so.
Coverage has been harsh, with headlines of the “failure” of Biden to get the infrastructure bill passed by the end of the month, as had been the goal, in advance of the Virginia governor race on Tuesday. But Politico’s playbook headlined with a contrarian take — “how Joe Biden already won,” making the case that, “Hill progressives now appear ready to swallow this deal — and that means it’s likely a matter of when, not if, it passes.”
UPDATE, 9 AM PT: Major broadcast networks carried special reports as President Joe Biden touted what he called a “historic economic framework” of a $1.75 trillion plan to expand the social safety net and combat climate change.
His sales pitch for the plan was not just to the American people, but Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, some of whom have yet to sign off on the framework.
“After months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have, I know we have a historic economic framework,” Biden said from the White House. “It is a framework that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people.”
Biden said that “no one got everything they wanted, including me.” “I’ve long said that compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy, important things done for the country.”
He argued that even the slimmed down proposal — about half the size originally envisioned — would still be “truly consequential.”
No Republicans are expected to vote for the plan in either chamber, meaning that Democrats have few votes to spare in the House and none in the 50-50 Senate.
“These are not about left versus right, or moderate versus progressive, or anything else that pits Americans against one another,” Biden said, as he promoted the plan as a way to boost American competitiveness.
“We risk losing our edge as a nation,” Biden said, noting that the U.S. has slipped behind in investments in infrastructure and education.
Two moderate Democratic senators who have been at the center of negotiations, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, issued statements that expressed support for the negotiations, but stopped short of embracing the framework. And on the progressive side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told reporters that the plan was historic, but wants to see more added into the framework.
PREVIOUSLY: The White House unveiled a scaled back framework for the Build Back Better Act, a cornerstone of Joe Biden’s agenda, as the president sought to rally support on Capitol Hill in advance of a trip to the climate summit in Europe.
The new plan has a price tag of $1.75 trillion, half of the $3.5 trillion initially envisioned, as the proposals were scaled back to win the backing of two moderate senators. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Democrats have no votes to spare in the 50-50 Senate, giving any of its party members enormous sway over the structure of the proposal, which will expand the government safety net and provide hundreds of billions to fight climate change.
“President Biden is confident this is a framework that can pass both houses of Congress, and he looks forward to signing it into law,” the White House said.
The framework includes universal pre-school and child care subsidies, expanded home care for seniors and people with disabilities, and an extension of the child tax credit. It also would expand Medicare to cover hearing benefits, extend Medicaid coverage to 4 million and reduce premiums in the Affordable Care Act. The proposal also include $555 billion for climate initiatives, including expansion of tax credits for home solar and other clean energy, and another to cut to cost of electric vehicles. It also will provide business incentives for solar, wind and other technology.
Missing from the proposal were other items that have been atop the agenda for many Democrats, including paid family and medical leave, free community college and other expansions of Medicare benefits, such as dental and vision. Also left out was a previous proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
To fund the proposal, Biden’s plan would establish a 15% minimum tax on corporations reporting profits of more than $1 billion. That may have an impact on tech companies, including Amazon and Netflix, that have paid below a 15% effective rate in recent years. The administration has reached an agreement with 136 countries for a 15% global minimum tax. Biden’s proposal would try to spur other nations to join by imposing a penalty rate on foreign corporations from countries that do not have the minimum rate.
The White House also proposes a surtax on wealthy Americans, with a 5% rate above income of $10 million, and an additional 3% surtax on income above $25 million. The plan also would include funding to beef up IRS enforcement.
Biden was on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to meet with members of the Democratic caucus. Some of the progressive members have been insistent that the legislation be voted on concurrently with another as aspect of Biden’s agenda, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The president is expected to deliver remarks on the latest Build Back Better proposal later on Thursday before embarking on his trip to Rome for the G20 summit and then on to Glasgow for the climate summit.
In a statement, Sinema said, “After months of productive, good-faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package. I look forward to getting this done, expanding economic opportunities and helping everyday families get ahead.”
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