Thursday, September 28

A week that could transform Joe Biden’s presidency

(CNN) — Joe Biden is tantalizingly close to fulfilling what his supporters see as the historic promise of his presidency in the coming days, at a critical time for his transformation of local social policy and his hopes of regaining US leadership abroad. .

After weeks of bickering between moderate and progressive Democrats and several brushes with the termination of his program, the president’s double game, social spending and a bipartisan infrastructure program, it could finally come to fruition this week. Democrats hope to agree on a framework on a cut package of social, health and educational programs to lift the House of Representatives’ progressive blockade on the vote on the bipartisan bill that fixes roads, bridges and railroads.

“I think we are more or less there”, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” this Sunday. A Democratic source told CNN’s Manu Raju that the goal now is for the House to vote on the infrastructure package this Wednesday or Thursday and send it to Biden’s table.

The exact content of the final social spending bill is not yet known, as negotiations to curtail a more ambitious program and win moderate votes have taken place behind closed doors. But Democrats seem determined to provide free preschool education, a Medicare expansion, home care for the elderly and more affordable childcare.

Biden considers deploying the National Guard due to supply crisis 0:54

If the Democrats finally reach an agreement on the composition of the bills, and Biden manages to include billions of dollars in funding to curb global warming, he will get a big boost on a trip abroad that begins Thursday and includes the G20 summit in Rome and the United Nations climate summit in Scotland.

A strong environmental component in the bill is crucial to the credibility of Biden, who aims to put the US back at the forefront of the global campaign to save the planet – one of his main foreign policy goals – and would put pressure on other highly polluting countries to follow suit.

But Democrats are scrambling to come up with replacement provisions after one of the moderate senators responsible for reducing the package, Joe Manchin of the West Virginia coal producer, thwarted a $ 150 billion incentive plan designed to divert utilities towards renewable forms of electricity generation.

In a further sign that Biden is steering the roller coaster drama of bills to a conclusion, he welcomed Manchin to his Wilmington, Delaware home on Sunday. The two long-time friends were joined at breakfast by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and moved on, according to the White House.

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The welfare package is expected to be far less than a previous $ 3.5 trillion proposal and the $ 6 trillion maximum originally requested by Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who chairs the Budget Commission. of the Senate. Some sources told CNN on Sunday that Manchin agreed to $ 1.75 trillion.

The bill’s downsizing means it will ditch a number of popular bills Biden campaigned on, including free community colleges, a painful concession as the first lady, Jill Biden, has long worked. time in the sector. But, as Biden explained on a CNN forum Thursday night, concessions must be made to pass the measure, even if there is not enough support among Democrats for all the cherished shows.

Even so, the passage of several large bills on infrastructure and welfare would guarantee one of the most important legislative legacies of any modern president. The programs could meet Biden’s goal of using the power of government to restore balance to the economy for workers.

The original plans included funding for home care for sick and elderly Americans, paid family leave, free schooling in preschool and a host of other programs that Democrats say will create jobs. And, if actually passed this week, the legislative victory could even give Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe a late boost in his gubernatorial campaign, which has been plagued by lethargy among progressive voters, heading into November 2.

“It’s less than we had … projected to begin with, but it’s still bigger than anything we’ve ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America’s working families,” Pelosi told Tapper.

Another promise that could be kept

The $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, meanwhile, would honor Biden’s inaugural call for national unity as Republicans and Democrats find areas of cooperation despite huge ideological differences. One of the central tenets of the Biden presidency and his effort to tame the populist anger that led to the Trump presidency is to show that government can be an effective force for good in the lives of hard-working Americans who are served. they deny the benefits of several decades of economic expansion.

The passage of any large bill at a time when the country is bitterly polarized and operates on the basis of typically small congressional majorities is highly unusual. However, Biden could walk away with nearly $ 3 trillion in infrastructure and social spending bills, in addition to a $ 1.9 trillion covid-19 bailout bill.

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Biden: The first thing I did was go back to the Paris Agreement 0:33

This list of accomplishments may help ease the anguish of Democrats after a brutal summer in which the president’s stature has been affected by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, rising coronavirus infections, rising inflation, rising gasoline prices, labor market mismatch and supply chain crisis.

It would also allow him to argue to Americans that he and his party have kept their campaign promises and used a moment when they control power in Washington to make a significant political shift.

So far, there has been a great deal of mistrust between progressives in the House of Representatives and moderates in the Senate, including Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who opposes raising the corporate tax rate and the upper marginal rate of the income tax. income of natural persons, as reported by CNN. These increases were initially considered essential to pay for the social spending plan. Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that possible alternative funding for the bill could consist of a billionaire tax and the application of IRS taxes.

Democrats’ internal disconnect thwarted an earlier House attempt to pass the infrastructure bill on the basis of a separate agreement from senators on the content of the spending plan. But there are signs that Biden’s intense role in negotiations in recent days may have eased that impasse.

“My opinion is that the word of the president, saying: ‘I have the commitment of 50 senators, and those 50 senators are going to vote in favor of this bill and here are the details’, that is enough,” said Representative Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat from California, on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t think proceduralism will hold us back. If the president gives his word and has a clear commitment, it will be enough.”

Passing Big Bills Carries Risks for Democrats

Biden’s harsh summer, which has taken a toll on his approval ratings, is one of the factors that suggests that even if he passes a multibillion-dollar agenda, any political rewards may not come in time to save Democrats, who are up against some. Historically treacherous midterm elections a year from now, not to mention Virginia’s close race for governor in just over a week.

To begin with, the bitter infighting of the Democrats over the packages, and in particular the top figure, has overshadowed the transformation of the social care they contain. And given the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, no one outside them has a clear idea of ​​what will be included in the final version. As a result, the bill has so far been difficult to sell politically. A compromise plan valued at about $ 1.75 trillion will also disappoint many progressive voters and could dampen their enthusiasm at the polls next year.

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It also remains to be demonstrated whether embarking on a massive spending program truly reflects the will of the voters, who, after all, produced a 50-50 in the Senate in the last election – in which Democrats can resort to a swing vote. Vice President Kamala Harris – and gave the party an advantage of just a handful of seats in the House. These narrow margins hardly represent a massive mandate for change in normal times.

Already, Republicans are making that argument the centerpiece of their campaigns for the midterm elections, in which they have high hopes of winning the House and Senate and effectively preventing Biden from achieving any other major legislative achievements in what remains. of his mandate ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.

Biden: The infrastructure plan will transform America. 0:59

“Democrats are having an incredibly difficult time getting where they would like to be,” Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this Sunday. “They have decided that they have a mandate when it is clear that there is not.”

It may also take months, or even years, before the spending included in the bills actually seeps into ordinary Americans and begins to change their lives in a way tangible enough to shape their political decisions. For example, the Affordable Healthcare Act, passed by former President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president, took years to catch on and take root in American society. In the short term, passage of that measure, which was easily portrayed by Republicans as liberal spending and power grabbing – much like Biden’s current plans – helped pay Democrats to their advantage in Congress.

But in the modern era, with generally disgruntled voters and power often shifting between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, it becomes even more vital for each party to maximize its gains in the fleeting years in which they are in control. Biden could go a long way toward achieving that goal in the coming week.

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