- President Joe Biden announced a pared-down social spending framework on Thursday.
- It appears to have been whittled down to win over centrist Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
- Progressive priorities that Biden ran on like paid leave and free community college are gone.
President Joe Biden unveiled a $1.75 trillion framework for Democrats’ social-spending bill on Thursday – nearly half the cost of the initial $3.5 trillion proposal.
It’s a far cry from the $6 trillion proposal that Sen. Bernie Sanders was drafting over the summer. And, some key social safety net provisions on which Biden hung his presidential campaign are gone.
“When enacted, this framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” the White House said in a press release.
It’s unclear, however, whether the framework has the support it needs from Democrats to pass Congressional votes.
As Insider reported, the framework does include $555 billion in investments toward clean energy and the climate, $400 billion for child care and preschool, and $150 billion for housing, among other things. But key higher education priorities, and a climate program Biden campaigned on, were cut largely due to opposition from centrist Democratic holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. While some measures, like Medicare expansions, weren’t part of Biden’s 2020 campaign, progressives like Sanders have been fighting for them throughout negotiations.
Here are the measures that didn’t make the final cut:
- Tuition-free community college
- Paid family and medical leave
- Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP)
- Dental, vision Medicare expansion
- Lower prescription drug prices
- Five years of extended child tax credit
- A tax on billionaire income
- Investments in child nutrition
Biden is set to head to Glasgow next week for the United Nations climate summit, and he made clear he wanted to have a framework to show to world leaders US’ efforts in combating climate change.
Still, many Democrats have made clear that until they see the actual text of the bill, they will continue to fight for the inclusion of those progressive priorities. For example, Michigan Rep. Andy Levin told Insider that he’s “going to fight right up until the closing whistle” to get free community college in the bill.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said in a Wednesday statement that, “until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan.”
And Sen. Ron Wyden, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, disputed on Wednesday that a billionaire’s tax was off the table, telling Insider: “I’m not saying that it’s dead!” However, it looks like Manchin’s 15% “patriotic tax” may have made it in instead.
But Biden’s announcement of this framework does not mean every Democrat is on board, including Manchin and Sinema. Progressives like Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal are still holding firm that they need to see the bill text before signing off on the framework, and will not vote for an infrastructure bill until the social-spending bill meets their priorities.
The framework indicates the tenuous hold that Democrats have on both chambers of Congress, and the power that centrists have to dictate their agenda – even with Sanders chairing the Senate Budget Committee, and Wyden overseeing Senate Finance.
Biden is set to speak later today, before heading to Rome to attend the G-20 summit (and meet with Pope Francis).
“I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form,” Manchin told reporters in September, adding that if progressives want to “get theirs,” they need to “elect more liberals.”
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