Biden Makes Last-Ditch Try to Consolidate Dems on ‘Historic’ $1.75 Trillion Bill Before Europe Trip
06:36 GMT 29.10.2021 (Updated: 13:59 GMT 19.12.2022)
Joe Biden’s Senate-passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, aimed at funding roads, bridges, and major projects, has stalled in the House as Democratic Party progressives want a larger social safety net bill to proceed through the Senate before considering the infrastructure package.
Joe Biden may have hailed his revamped almost two trillion spending plan as a "historic economic framework” tailored to render the US more competitive and resilient, but he has been forced to fly to Europe without securing explicit endorsement
from all 50 Democratic senators to get the package passed. A 50-50 seat split in the Senate, taking into consideration the Republican resistance to the proposals, means the entire Democratic Party needs to be brought on board.
The impasse brings with it further delay, not only pertaining to Biden's Build Back Better plan but also the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that House progressives have refused to support without agreement on the larger bill.
President Biden is set to meet in Rome with Pope Francis ahead of the G20 summit of world leaders and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. The US POTUS had been hoping to secure his climate and economic agenda in Congress ahead of the meetings with the pontiff and world leaders.
of Biden's $1.75 trillion spending package, trimmed-back from the roughly $3.5 trillion he originally sought, was released on Thursday afternoon, with the President hailing it as a "historic economic framework".
The Democratic POTUS had hoped to hammer out a framework agreement for the $1.85 trillion effort to dish out heavy spending on child care, climate change and a wide array of other economic programs, paid for by an estimated $2 trillion in tax increases on corporations and big earners.
Some key provisions of the proposal include $555 billion to fight climate change, $400 billion to provide universal prekindergarten to 3- and 4-year-olds, and to slash child care costs for working families earning up to $300,000 a year.
"There are still details, of course, to be ironed out… We see today as making progress," White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters as Biden took the flight to Rome.
In a speech at the White House earlier, Joe Biden hailed the framework proposed bill as a once-in-a-generation opportunity and a "fundamental game changer for families and for our economy".
"This is about competitiveness versus complacency… It's about leading the world or letting the world pass us by," said Biden in WH remarks. The POTUS added:
“The agenda that’s in these bills is what 81 million Americans voted for. Their voices deserve to be heard, not denied, or worse ignored.”
Weighing in on the split between the moderates and progressives over the spending proposals, he stated:
“And that's what I ran on. I've long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy… No one got everything they wanted, including me. But that’s what compromise is.”
One of the biggest sticking points in negotiations with progressives has been how to pay for the expansive package. Joe Biden is reported to have privately ramped up pressure on the Democrats to rally around the bipartisan infrastructure package, as progressives demand that a larger social safety net bill proceeds alongside the Senate-passed infrastructure bill offering broad funding for building roads, bridges, and major projects.
“We have a framework that will get 50 votes in the United States Senate… I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” Biden said to the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ meeting on Capitol Hill, according to sources cited by US media outlets.
However, the House delayed a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill following the framework’s release.
“Members of our Caucus will not vote for the infrastructure bill without the Build Back Better Act. We will work immediately to finalise and pass both pieces of legislation through the House together,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In a letter to Democratic colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed that the House would delay the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The House also passed a short-term extension of highway funding through 3 December. The White House later issued a statement saying it is confident both the Build Back Better plan and the infrastructure bill will be passed "soon." Two crucial holdouts in the voting for the social policy legislation have been Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. “After months of productive, good-faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Sinema was quoted as saying. Manchin added, “It’s in the hands of the House.”