Biden’s big bill on brink of House votes, but fights remain…
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Democrats abruptly postponed an expected House vote Friday on a 10-year, $1. 85 trillion social and environment measure, as leaders’ long struggle to balance demands from progressives and moderates once again dogged the pillar of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. Leaders prepared to push a $1 trillion package of infrastructure and road projects through the chamber to give him a victory. With lawmakers leaving town for a week, the scrambled legislative plan cast a new pall over a party which has struggled for weeks to find a compromise on its huge package of climate, family, and health initiatives. It’s been difficult because Democrats have a slim majority and must support every senator Democrat. They can only have three House defectors.
The party’s congressional leaders had hoped that the House would approve both that measure as well as the infrastructure bill. This would have been a double victory for the president and party, eager to bounce back from this week’s disappointing off-year elections.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATED. Below is the earlier story by AP.
WASHINGTON — Democrats tried to resolve lingering concerns of moderate legislators Friday in hopes that President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar domestic agenda t hrough Congress will be pushed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other leaders met privately with a handful of centrists who say they want an official cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office before voting on a 10-year, $1. 85 trillion social and environment bill. To pass the legislation, Democrats cannot lose more than three votes in the narrowly divided House.
Biden met reporters to promote a strong monthly jobs report and said that he would return to the Oval Office to “make some calls” to legislators. He said he would ask them to “vote yes on both these bills right now.”
Leaders want to pass that legislation, and a separate five-year, $1 trillion package of road and other infrastructure projects, to quickly notch accomplishments just days after a gubernatorial election defeat in Virginia and disappointing contests elsewhere. They want the votes to be cast before Congress departs for a week-long recess.
Leaders claim that complete CBO figures will not be available for several days or longer. House Majority Leader StenyHoyer, D.Md., stated that the talks are ongoing. The House was preparing for a procedural vote. This took place three hours earlier than expected, as discussions were ongoing behind the scenes.
House passage of Biden’s larger measure would send it to the Senate, where it would face certain changes and more Democratic drama. This is mainly due to demands from Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silenza of Arizona were asked to limit the measure’s cost and reduce or eliminate some of its initiatives.
The House would approve the bipartisan, smaller infrastructure measure, which would send it to the White House where Biden would undoubtedly take a victory lap. To pressure moderates to support the larger family and climate legislation, House progressives had blocked that bill. It was expected to create mountains in jobs.
Pelosi met with Hispanic lawmakers late Thursday to discuss the larger measure that would help immigrants stay in the U.S. However, their prospects of bold action are limited due to strict Senate rules. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) said Friday that they had discussed the issue in other bills, and considered Pelosi an ally.
After months and months of negotiations, the House passed the large bill. It sent to the Senate Biden his effort to expand child care ,health care and make a significant investment in climate change mitigation.
Alongside the slimmer roads-bridges-and-broadband package, it adds up to Biden’s answer to his campaign promise to rebuild the country from the COVID-19 crisis and confront a changing economy.
Pelosi seemed to be focused on passing the strongest bill in her chamber, then allowing the Senate to amend or remove any portions it doesn’t like. The House Rules Committee approved changes to the state-and-local tax deduction as well as other issues in late revisions of the bill.
Half the size of Biden’s initial $3.5 trillion package, the bill exceeds 2,100 pages and has support progressive lawmakers, even though it is smaller than they wanted. However, the more conservative and centrist Democrats in the chamber continued to raise objections.
Republicans criticized the measure for being too costly and damaging to the country’s economy.
Overall, the package is more comprehensive than any in recent decades. It would help large numbers of Americans pay for their health care, raise children, and care for the elderly at home.
There would be lower prescription drug costs, limiting the price of insulin to $35 a dose. Medicare would now be able for the first time to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies for other drugs. This is a long-awaited Democratic priority.
Medicare would have a new hearing aid benefit for older Americans, and those with Medicare Part D would see their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs capped at $2,000.
The package would provide some $555 billion in tax breaks encouraging cleaner energy and electric vehicles, the nation’s largest commitment to tackling climate change.
With a flurry of late adjustments, the Democrats added key provisions in recent days — adding back a new paid family leave program and work permits for immigrants. Late changes Thursday would raise a $10,000 cap on state-and-local tax deductions to $80,000.
Much of the package’s cost would be covered with higher taxes on wealthier Americans, those earning more than $400,000 a year, and a 5% surtax would be added on those making over $10 million annually. Large corporations would face a new 15% minimum tax in an effort to stop big businesses from claiming so many deductions that they end up paying zero in taxes.
Democrats are trying to settle their differences with senators Manchin, Sinema and others. They pushed for cuts to Biden’s bill, but championed the smaller infrastructure package, which had been stalled during deliberations.
Manchin has panned the new family and medical leave program, which is expected to provide four weeks of paid time off after childbirth, for recovery from major illness or for caring for family members, less than the 12-week program once envisioned.
Senators will likely remove a recently added immigration provision, which would allow for a new program to provide legal status for approximately 7 million illegal immigrants. This would allow them to apply for U.S. travel and work permits for five years. The Senate parliamentarians using special budget rules to process the package are not likely to approve the addition.
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri
, Kevin Freking, Aamer madhani, and Mary Clare Jalonick all contributed to this report.