President Biden on Thursday travelled to Capitol hill to convince House Democrats to back a $1.75 trillion framework of social and climate spending and end a weeks-long stalemate over the passage of a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Biden joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and a room full of Democrats in a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol Thursday morning. In his remarks, Biden made an urgent case for a vote later in the day on the bipartisan bill, telling Democrats that in order to have success, they needed to succeed today, according to a source familiar with the gathering.
Biden explicitly told Democrats that needs them to help him and he needs their votes, the source said. The comments were specifically aimed at holdouts in the Congressional Progressive Caucus who have said they will not vote for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August until there is a final agreement on social spending.
Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told reporters ahead of the meeting that she intended to stick with her position.
“What we said consistently is that we want to see what’s actually in the bill,” Jayapal said. “We want to see the legislative text. And then assuming that we’re fine with that we’ll vote both bills through at the same time.”
A slimmed down framework
Senior Biden administration officials believe the policies in the framework can become a bill that passes both the House and the Senate, despite the decision to cut the original $3.5 trillion spending goal in half.
The social spending package, which senior administration officials described as “transformative,” would make investments in children and families, efforts to combat climate change, provide affordable health care, and help middle-class families.
It includes major priorities for Democrats including universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, an additional year of the expanded monthly child tax credit payment, invests in affordable housing, premium reductions under the Affordable Care Act and significant investments to address climate change. The bill would also create a nationwide green jobs program known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The legislation will be paid for with a series of taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
Notably absent from the framework are major party priorities, including:
Many Democrats have blamed Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for the failure to reach a deal on paid family leave and free community college.
The framework comes at a critical moment for Biden, who is set to leave Washington Thursday afternoon for a series of meetings in Europe with global leaders on climate change and the world economy. Senior Congressional Democrats say they believe Biden wants at least one of the bills passed ahead of those talks.
The framework includes:
- Universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, for six years
- Child care support for about 20 million children for six years — limits costs to no more than 7% of income for families earning up to 250% of state median income, as long as parents are working, seeking work, in training or dealing with a serious health issue
- An extension of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit for one year
- More than $500 billion in spending on climate, including clean energy tax credits for rooftop solar, electric vehicles, clean energy production; a civilian climate corps program; and investments in clean energy technology and manufacturing
- Extending the expanded Affordable Care Act premium tax credits through 2025
- Covering hearing costs through Medicare for seniors
- $100 billion for reforms to reduce backlogs in the immigration asylum process.
The taxes include:
- A 15% minimum tax for large corporations that report profits of more than $1 billion to shareholders
- A 1% tax on stock buybacks
- A 15% minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations
- A surtax on the top .02% wealthiest Americans of 5% on income over $10 million, and an additional 3% on income over $25 million
This is a developing story.