President Joe Biden stated Thursday that he and Democrats in Congress had struck a “historic” agreement on a framework for his comprehensive domestic policy jobs plan. However, he still needs to secure votes from important members for what is now a significantly reduced package.
Biden made his case to House Democrats both personally on Capitol Hill and publicly in a speech at the White House, trying to reach an agreement before leaving late in the day for global summits. He is now pushing for a more comprehensive package — $1.75 trillion in social welfare and climate change programs — that the White House believes can be approved by the Senate on a 50-50 vote.
The fast-moving developments put Democrats closer to a hard-fought deal, but battles remain as they press to finish the final draft in the days and weeks ahead. “Let’s get this done,” Biden exhorted. “It will fundamentally change the lives of millions of people for the better,” he said about the package, which he badly wanted before the summits to show the world American democracy still works.
Biden argued that the influx of federal funding, along with a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure, would be a domestic triumph comparable to that of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.
“I need your votes,” Biden told the lawmakers at the Capitol, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss the private remarks.
Final voting, however, will not be held for some time. As the president’s objectives give way to the political reality of the narrowly split Congress, the revised plan has lost some priority targets, disappointing many members.
Paid family leave and initiatives to decrease prescription medication prices have been removed entirely from the package, infuriating some politicians and campaigners. A large list of additional initiatives remains in the mix, including free prekindergarten for all children, expanded healthcare jobs programs — including the launch of a new $35 billion hearing aid benefit for Medicare recipients — and $555 billion to combat climate change.
There is also a one-year renewal of a child care tax credit established during the COVID-19 bailout and new child care subsidies. If Senate rules are followed, an additional $100 billion to strengthen the immigration and border processing system could bring the total package to $1.85 trillion.
One pivotal Democratic holdout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, said, “I look forward to getting this done.” However, another, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was less committal: “This is all in the hands of the House right now.”
The two Democrats have nearly single-handedly lowered the breadth and scope of their party’s great vision, and their contributions are critical to closing the agreement. Republicans continue to be massively opposed, forcing Biden to rely on the Democrats’ thin congressional majority, with no votes to spare in the Senate and few in the House.
After months of discussions, Biden’s developing measure, built on New Deal and Great Society programs, would still be among the most comprehensive in a generation. According to the White House, it is the largest-ever investment in climate change and the most significant upgrade to the nation’s healthcare system in more than a decade. Biden stressed the importance of showing progress as he headed to the summits during his discussion with senators at the Capitol.
Source: The Newstribune