President Joe Biden said he would rather reduce the length of programs in his large social services and climate package than eliminate them entirely. This is because Democrats are struggling to win moderate support for a proposal that was $3.5 trillion.
Biden’s Friday comments, which reassured progressives about what he hopes will become a landmark piece in his legacy, were his most direct indication of how negotiations over the bill would go. It was a clear break with Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), who suggested that progressive lawmakers prefer to support a particular strategy.
He said that there is no deadline to sign a deal.
Biden stated that he believes it is important to establish the principle on many issues, without guaranteeing the full 10 years,” before boarding Air Force One for a return flight to Washington after a trip to Connecticut. It is important to establish it.
He said, “So you have to pass the principle and then you build on it.” You can either look back or decide it doesn’t.
Pelosi said however that in Monday’s note to Democratic lawmakers, “Overwhelmingly” the guidance she is receiving from her fellow members was to do fewer things better.
Biden stated Friday that he expected the package to shrink but “we’re going back and get the remainder” once it has passed.
“We are not going to get $3.5 billion. We won’t get $3.5 trillion, but we will get it. And we’re going back and getting the rest,” Biden stated during remarks at Connecticut’s child care center.
The Democrats on Capitol Hill want to cut the spending package to around $2 trillion. This would be funded by higher taxes for corporations and wealthy. It includes everything, from community college and free child care to senior dental, vision, and hearing aid benefits. There are also significant provisions to combat climate change. These are all important items for progressives but moderates balk at the $3.5 trillion price tag.
A proposal to offer a free community college is one example of a reduction that would almost certainly be made.
Biden stated that although I doubt we will receive all the funding for community college, he is not giving up on them as long as he’s president. Jill Biden, his wife, is an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
The Senate and House have narrow margins, so Democrats don’t have enough votes to pass the bill. Some progressives are concerned about the whittling process.
As the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. wrote an opinion column in West Virginia calling out Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator, for having blocked the domestic package.
Sanders identified Manchin as one the two Democratic senators “remaining in opposition” to this measure, which thwarted the party’s need for unanimous support in the 50-50 Senate in order to approve the still-evolving legislation.
“This is a pivotal time in American history. “We now have an historic opportunity to support West Virginia’s working families and Vermont’s entire country and to create policy that works for all not just the few,” Sanders wrote.
Manchin responded late Friday with a statement saying that “it isn’t first time an outsider has tried telling West Virginians the best thing for them.”
It is not common for senators to criticize colleagues of the same party, especially if they are dipping into the state of another lawmaker.
Manchin proposed that the overall cost of the measure be kept at $1.5 trillion over 10 years. He also stated that he would like to limit certain health care initiatives in order to only benefit those with lower incomes.
Manchin and Sanders are, respectively, among the Democrats’ most conservative and progressive senators.
Biden openly admitted that the package’s price tag will need to be reduced. Biden visited Hartford’s child development center on Friday to discuss the need to invest in child care and other social security net programs. He argued that they are essential to keeping America competitive in global markets.
Biden was the central figure in promoting his plan to make such care available for low-income families and to ensure that parents who earn less than 7% of their salary on child care are not subject to tax. This is part of a huge expansion of the social security net that Biden championed, and which is only attainable with Democratic votes in Congress.
Washingtonians are still not aware that it’s not enough to just invest in the infrastructure. He said that we also need to invest in our employees.
Biden briefly met some children at the center’s play area, and at one point he knelt to hug a child.
As his Democratic allies raise concerns about the American public’s inability to understand the package’s benefits, the president’s pitch is a timely one. There is renewed urgency among Democrats to push it through ahead of an end-of-month deadline on transportation funding, Biden’s upcoming foreign trip, and a closer-than-anticipated race for Virginia’s next governor.
Biden has called the legislation “Build Back Better”, and it is holding up a bipartisan infrastructure bill worth more than $1 trillion that was passed by the Senate this summer. House progressives won’t support the roads-and bridges bill until they can agree on a way forward for the social security net package.
Terry McAuliffe (Democratic candidate for Virginia governor) spoke out against Biden in an interview with The Associated Press.
McAuliffe stated, “They all need to get their act together so they can vote.” McAuliffe was asked if he was calling Biden out. He replied, “I put everyone there.” McAuliffe is currently in a close race with Glenn Youngkin, a Republican newcomer in a state that Biden won by 10 points last autumn.
Biden also spoke later at the dedication of Dodd Center for Human Rights, University of Connecticut. This was renamed in honor of a long-time friend, former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and Dodd’s father, who is also a former senator.