Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a “landmark economic framework” that he said would make America more competitive and resilient, touting the $ 1.75 trillion plan to expand the nation’s social safety net and tackle the climate crisis as a victory for consensus and compromise even as the way forward remained uncertain.
The president, who delayed his departure to Europe to finalize the proposal, presented the emerging deal as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore American leadership and show the world that democracies can still deliver in the 21st century.
His comments at the White House followed a visit to the Capitol Thursday morning, where he pleaded with House Democrats to rally behind the deal, saying his presidency, and his political future, depended on the approval of his agenda. national.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens next week,” he said, according to a source familiar with his private comments to the caucus.
The visit set off a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill as Democratic leaders, eager to hand Biden a legislative victory, increased pressure on progressives to accept the “framework” as a closed deal, paving the way for to join moderates in passing a related $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. With Republicans mostly aligned against the plan, Pelosi only has a handful of votes to spare.
“When the president gets off that plane, we want him to have a vote of confidence from this Congress,” he told his rebel group Thursday morning. “For us to be successful, we must be successful today.”
Twice during the course of the hour-long meeting, Democratic lawmakers got up and began yelling, “Vote, vote, vote.” But his enthusiasm quickly dimmed as the more liberal members of his group rallied.
Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said in a statement that her left-wing group would stand firm in its insistence that the bills must advance together. “Our caucus members will not vote for the infrastructure bill without the Better Reconstruction Act,” Jayapal said. “We will work immediately to finalize and pass both laws through the House together.”
The vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill now looks likely for next week, after Pelosi confirmed Thursday night that it would be delayed.
Working frantically to advance the legislation, the framework quickly translated into a 1,684-page bill published shortly before a House rules committee hearing on the measure.
“This is not the end of the process,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat and committee chairman, stating several times during the hearing that the social policy package would not be ready for a vote Thursday. “This bill will continue to be refined.”
For Democratic leaders, the negotiations were complicated by the uncertainty of the main candidates, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. They both seemed hopeful that a deal was within their grasp, but they failed to offer firm support.
“After months of productive and good faith negotiations with Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Sinema said, adding, “I look forward to achieving it.”
Manchin also made no commitment to support the legislation that played a major role in shaping it. When asked if he would vote for the plan, he said only that its fate was currently “in the hands of the House.”
After months of lengthy negotiations, the proposed framework is much smaller in size and scope than the $ 3.5 trillion package Biden initially envisioned. Even so, the president called for a preventive legislative achievement on par with those enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
“Any single element of this framework would be seen as a fundamental change in the United States. Together, they really matter, ”Biden said during remarks from the East Room of the White House, noting new spending on child care and climate mitigation.
“If we make these investments, we will own the future,” he added.
The package would make substantial new investments in childcare and childcare, as well as turn the American economy off fossil fuels. According to the White House, the framework would guide the United States to fulfill the president’s promise to reduce global warming emissions by 2030.
Among the other provisions of the bill are free preschool for every three- and four-year-old, expanded health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and what the White House calls the “largest effort to combat climate change in the history of the United States “.
Plans to provide 12 weeks of federally paid family leave and two years of free community college were removed from the package; ambitious climate initiatives and efforts to reduce prescription drug prices. A proposal to expand Medicare to cover vision, dentistry and hearing came down to just hearing.
Democrats have spent the past few weeks haggling over plans to pay for their schedule, amid opposition from Manchin and Sinema to various revenue-raising proposals. On Wednesday, a new plan to tax billionaires’ assets was scrapped after Manchin said the plan had “the connotation that we are targeting different people.”
To offset their spending, Democrats said they would raise an estimated $ 2 trillion by raising taxes on corporations and higher-income Americans, and rolling back some of the Trump administration tax cuts passed in 2017. Honor the promise of Biden’s campaign that it would not collect taxes on Americans who earn less than $ 400,000 a year, according to the White House.
After weeks of frenzied negotiations, Democrats were scrambling to cobble together a deal that the president could promote when he travels to Rome, the Vatican and then to the United Nations climate conference, known as Cop26, in Glasgow, Scotland, where he hopes to be able to do it. They point to the agreement as evidence of the United States’ commitment to face the climate crisis.
“We are at a tipping point,” Biden told House lawmakers. “The rest of the world is wondering if we can function.”
Internal disputes over the bill delayed its passage for weeks as Democrats beat self-imposed deadlines in an effort to find a compromise that could satisfy their party’s broad ideological expansion.
The result is a bill that reflects the limits of his ruling coalition, Biden said, indicating that this was the best deal Democrats could hope to achieve with a small majority and a unified Republican opposition.
“Nobody got everything they wanted, including me,” he said. “But that’s the compromise. That is consensus. And that’s what I followed. “
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the powerful budget committee, called the framework a “big step forward” but warned there were also “big gaps” in the legislation. He cited the lack of paid family and medical leave for workers and the inability to expand Medicare benefits to include dental and vision services, as well as pastoralism, one of the senator’s top priorities.
Without the 50 senators, the legislation will not pass.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism