Biden announces deal, calls for votes: “Let’s do this”

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said on Thursday he had reached a “historic economic framework” with Democrats in Congress over his broad domestic policy agenda, a hotly contested but dramatically reduced deal announced just before he left for summits abroad.

Biden’s remarks at the White House came after he traveled to Capitol Hill to plead with House Democrats the still strong national package – $ 1.75 trillion in social services and anti-social services programs. climate change which, according to the White House, can pass the Senate 50-50.

“It will fundamentally change the lives of millions of people for the better,” Biden told the White House. “Let’s do this. “

With a nearly $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in sight of final votes perhaps as early as Thursday, Biden has claimed a national achievement modeled on those of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

“I need your votes,” Biden told lawmakers earlier, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss the private remarks.

Biden was eager to have a deal in hand before leaving for world summits later today. But the revised package lost some of Democrats’ top priorities as the president’s ambitions give way to the political realities of the tightly divided Congress.

Paid family leave and efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs are now completely gone, sparking outrage from some lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Also in the mix is ​​a long list of other priorities: free preschool for all young people, expanded health care programs – including the launch of a new $ 35 billion hearing benefit for those on insurance. – disease – and $ 555 billion to fight climate change.

There is also a one-year extension to the child care tax credit that was put in place during the COVID-19 rescue and new child care subsidies. An additional $ 100 billion to strengthen the immigration and border processing system could bring the overall amount to $ 1.85 trillion if it erases Senate rules.

With the very support of the Restricted Package still an issue, Biden said upon leaving Capitol Hill: “I think we’re going to be in good shape.”

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At least one key point, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Struck a similar tone: “I can’t wait to do this.”

However, another dissenter, Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., was less committed: “Everything is in the hands of the House right now.”

Taking shape after months of negotiations, Biden’s emerging bill would still be one of the most radical of its kind in a generation, modeled on the New Deal and Great Society agendas. The White House calls it the largest investment ever in climate change and the biggest improvement in the country’s healthcare system in more than a decade.

During his meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Biden said he wanted progress to be made when he arrives in Rome for a world summit to show world leaders, including those in Russia and China, that democracies still work, according to private meeting attendees.

“We’re at an inflection point,” Biden said. “The rest of the world is wondering if we can do it. “

And he said it is not “hyperbole to say that the majorities in the House and Senate and my presidency will be determined by what happens next week.”

At one point, Biden “demanded an enthusiastic, enthusiastic vote on his plan,” said Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass.

Twice during the hour-long meeting, Democratic lawmakers stood up and began shouting, “Vote, vote, vote,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia.

Biden’s proposal would be paid for by imposing a new 5% surtax on income over $ 10 million a year and instituting a new 15% minimum corporate tax, in line with his plan not to impose new taxes to people earning less than $ 400,000 a year, officials said. .

Revenue to help pay for the package would also come from the cancellation of some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts in 2017, as well as the increased enforcement of tax evaders by the IRS. Biden has pledged to cover the full cost of the plan, making sure it doesn’t pile up on the debt burden.

But the framework is not yet the full legislative text, which lawmakers and aides have warned has yet to be accepted by lawmakers.

Progressive Caucus Leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Said the unveiling of the new framework “will show tremendous momentum. But we want to see the actual text because we don’t want confusion and misunderstandings. “

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Biden asked the House to vote on Thursday. On hold is the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill that has already been approved by the Senate, but has become entangled in deliberations on the larger bill.

Progressives have withheld their support for the small, bipartisan infrastructure bill as leverage until they commit to a deal for the larger Biden package they prefer. This separate $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill on roads, broadband and other public works projects faces a voting deadline on Sunday, when routine transportation funds are likely to expire .

“When the president gets off that plane, we want him to get a vote of confidence from this Congress,” Pelosi told lawmakers, the person said.

In the divided Senate, Biden needs the support of all the voiceless Democrats to spare. The House is also divided with only a few marginal votes.

Two key Democratic refractories, Manchin and Sinema, have almost single-handedly reduced the size and scope of their party’s grand vision.

Sinema helped push his party away from its pledge to reverse Republicans’ tax cuts in 2017, forcing Democrats to take a different approach than simply increasing personal and business tax rates.

And Manchin’s resistance to government programs has forced serious cuts to a clean energy plan and the outright elimination of paid family leave. He insisted that there be work requirements for parents receiving the new childcare subsidies.

The two Democratic senators who now hold enormous power, essentially deciding whether or not Biden will be able to deliver on the Democrats’ big campaign promises.

At the same time, progressives have achieved a key priority – Vermont independent Bernie Sanders’ proposal to provide hearing aid benefits to people on Medicare. However, his ideas to also include dental and vision care were left out.

Other expanded health care programs are building on the Affordable Care Act by funding grants to help people purchase insurance policies and coverage in states that have turned down the Obamacare program.

Overall, the new package also sets up political battles in the years to come. Much of healthcare funding will expire in 2025, ensuring a campaign stake ahead of the next presidential election. The child care tax credit expires in conjunction with next year’s midterm elections, when congressional oversight is determined.

Despite a series of delays, Democrats were unable to strike the deal between themselves and Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the package. At best, Democrats could send Biden overseas with a deal in hand and unblock the process while the final details were worked out.

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Associated Press editors Zeke Miller in Rome and Colleen Long, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking, and Padmananda Rama in Washington contributed to this report.

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