As Democrats are negotiating revisions to a massive social spending bill, it’s becoming increasingly clear what programs will be dropped from last month’s $3.5 trillion proposal.
According to multiple reports, President Biden thinks a package costing somewhere between $1.75 and $2 trillion is the most viable option to unite the party. That means jettisoning free community college for all Americans.
In addition, a clean energy program designed to phase out coal- and gas-burning power plants is also on the chopping block at the behest of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat whose state is among the nation’s largest coal and natural gas producers.
Axios reports Manchin has also forced a change to the package’s child tax credit. Manchin wants it limited to families making less than $60,000.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Democrats have discussed reducing the number of weeks covered under a proposed federal paid-leave program, which would offer 12 weeks of leave as currently drafted.”
The New York Times adds:
The overall bill was still expected to address climate change, expand health care benefits, provide some federal coverage for prekindergarten and home care, and be fully financed with some tax increases.
On Tuesday, the White House hosted a series of meetings attended by – among others – members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Biden, Manchin, and the other Democrat whose opposition killed the $3.5 trillion dollar package, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there, “was broad agreement that there is urgency in moving forward over the next several days and that the window for finalizing a package is closing.”
POLITICO reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believe that Democrats will agree on a social spending package by the end of October. That should trigger the passage of a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure package; progressives have insisted they’d only support the infrastructure bill once the larger social safety spending package is finalized.
Biden is keen on passing both bills before he attends a high-profile climate change meeting in Glasgow. The Wall Street Journal explains:
The president stressed to Democrats on Tuesday that he would like to see significant progress on the package before the Glasgow summit, arguing that the international meeting offered the U.S. an opportunity to show the world that Washington isn’t hopelessly dysfunctional.