Washington – Downplaying his ambitious domestic agenda, President Joe Biden has described a more limited vision to Democratic lawmakers of his $2 trillion package to address climate change and expand social services.
Likely to be abolished or shaved off: a plan for tuition-free community colleges, a path to permanent legal status for some immigrants in the US, and a clean energy plan that was the centerpiece of Biden’s strategy to fight climate change.
The president met in private with about 20 centrist and progressive lawmakers in separate groups on Tuesday, as Democrats appeared prepared to abandon the $3.5 trillion package in favor of a smaller, more practical proposal that would unite the party. Can and can be finely divided. Congress.
Child tax credit, paid family leave, health care and free pre-kindergarten are still in the mix and private meetings allowed anonymity to be discussed, according to details shared by people familiar with the conversation .
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden felt “more confident” after the day of the meetings. “There was broad agreement that there is an urgency to move forward over the next several days and that the window for finalizing the package is closing,” she said.
President Joe Biden comments on the July jobs report in the East Room of the White House on August 6, 2021. (Official White House photo by Cameron Smith)
After months of fits and startsDemocrats are becoming concerned that they have little to show voters despite their campaign promises. All of Biden’s idea is to be funded by tax increases on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, who earn more than $400,000 per year.
The president specifically wants to advance his signed domestic package to strengthen federal social services and address climate change until he leaves for the global climate summit next week.
Representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a Progressive Caucus member, said Biden urged lawmakers to “do something now” to show US leadership on climate change on the global stage.
“He truly believes that American leadership, American prestige is on the line,” Khanna said.
A major take on Biden’s proposals, conservative Sen. Joe Manchin of coal-state West Virginia has made clear that he opposes the president’s initial clean energy demonstration plan, in which the government imposes penalties on power utilities that meet clean energy benchmarks. and offer financial rewards to those who do – in line with Biden’s goal of achieving 80% “clean electricity” by 2030.
Instead, Biden in his Tuesday meetings focused on providing at least $500 billion in tax credits, grants and loans to fight climate change, much of it from a package compiled by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. likely to come. Finance Committee. They include tax breaks for energy producers reaching emissions reduction goals.
That clean energy approach may better align with Manchin’s stated goal of having a “fuel neutral” approach to federal policy that does not favor renewable energy sources over coal and natural gas that are dominant in his state.
Other climate-change-fighting proposals being considered include taxes on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels such as oil and coal or methane emissions tariffs – although Manchin told reporters earlier in the day that a carbon tax was not in the mix.
Failure to act on climate change will have far-reaching consequences in the US and abroad. Proponents of the larger effort say inaction could cost US billions of dollars in weather-related disasters and threaten to uproot millions of Americans in hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and floods.
Representative Mark Pokan, D-Wis., another Progressive Caucus member, called Munchkin’s protests on climate issues “one of the biggest challenges,” threatening to stall a final bill.
On other fronts, Biden and the Democrats appeared to mingle more easily around a slimmed-down package.
Biden wants to extend the $300 monthly child tax credit that was put in place during the COVID-19 crisis for another year, rather than letting it expire in December.
The policy has been praised for sending cash to the most needy families. Democrats want to extend the credit for additional years, but limiting the term would help reduce costs. It now has to be phased out for single-parent families earning more than $75,000, or $150,000 for couples, but lower those income limits to meet the demands of Manchin and more conservative Democrats. can be done.
What was envisioned as a one-month federal paid family leave program can be limited to a minimum of four weeks.
Biden also wants to ensure funding for health care programs, including new money for home and community-based health care services, supports the move away from comprehensive nursing home care.
And Khanna, a longtime Sanders aide, said a new program to provide dental, vision and hearing aid benefits to people on Medicare proposed by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont is likely to remain in some fashion.
Still expected to be included in the package are new subsidies to help families pay for child care, as well as increased subsidies for those who buy their own health insurance during the pandemic.
Biden told lawmakers that $300 billion would be left after his top priorities, which some have suggested could be used for housing aid and racial justice issues. Biden also mentioned that the money could go towards repairing homes of low-income people.
But Biden’s vision for a free community college for all is being edged.
“It is not the strong vision that the President wants or what we wanted,” Khanna said.
At a long and “lively” lunch of Democratic senators earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “the universal agreement in that room was that we have to come to an agreement and we have to get it done.”
Biden met for nearly two hours at the White House with the first group of lawmakers, progressives, who were convinced a deal was within reach. Moderate MPs met for about 90 minutes in the evening.
“Everyone is talking,” said Munchkin, who had his meeting with the president on Tuesday.
For months, Arizona’s Manchin and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema have objected to the scope and scale of Biden’s package, testing the patience of allies who seek to reshape government programs as a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Let’s see. The cinema missed the senators’ lunch but held a separate meeting with Biden.
With Republicans vehemently opposing Biden’s plans, the president needs all Democrats in the 50-50 split Senate to pass and can leave only a few votes in the House.
Congress has set an October 31 deadline for passage.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Darlene Superville, Alexandra Jaffe and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.