Free grants for preschool and child care for families with young children. Dental care and hearing aids for seniors with Medicare. Improvements to infrastructure in each state.
There’s a lot going on in President Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion government restructuring plan, and it’s hitting a tumultuous time. With Republicans firmly opposed, Democrats are rushing to reduce the total and complete the big package, a huge undertaking whose consequences are sure to shape Biden’s presidency and their own political future.
Success would mean historic achievement. Failure could end careers.
All of this, as other deadlines swirl this week to pay for government operations and authorize more borrowing or risk a devastating federal shutdown or debt default – though these dire scenarios seem unlikely.
“You know me, I’m a born optimist,” Biden told reporters on Monday, as he rolled up his sleeve for a COVID-19 recall. “We are going to do it.”
What’s at stake? “Victory is what is at stake.”
As a series of votes line up in the House and Senate, the real action takes place behind the scenes. Biden personally calls lawmakers in a bid to resolve differences and advance his overall view of domestic politics.
He said on Monday that he planned to have more discussions on possible advances in the evening and on Tuesday.
Ticking off the hefty list of goals to accomplish, Biden said, “If we do this, the country will be in great shape.”
Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress are looking to rework the country’s balance sheets once in a generation – asking corporations and the wealthy to pay more taxes, then reinvest that money in federal programs for Americans young and old.
Building on a $ 1,000 billion bipartisan public works program that has already been approved by the Senate and is headed for a House vote, Biden is seeking significant spending on health care, education, and people. efforts to combat climate change. The total price, he argues, is in fact âzeroâ – covered by the expected increase in tax revenue.
But Republicans say these are real expenses that cannot be paid and reflect Democrats’ willingness to put government into people’s lives.
And so far the bill is also too important for the main Democrats whose votes are needed in the face of GOP opposition. Democratic leaders are working hard to reduce the $ 3.5 trillion proposal to win votes.
Thursday is somewhat of a new deadline, as Congress must also pass legislation to keep current government operations going beyond fiscal year-end and to renew transportation programs in the Works Bill. public.
“Let me just say it’s a hectic week,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi minimized Sunday on ABC.
More immediately, the Senate set a test vote Monday night to maintain government funding and avoid a federal debt default before Thursday’s fiscal year-end deadline. The move risked facing a blockade by Republican senators – ensuring lawmakers would have to try again later in the week.
Biden, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have gained some breathing space after Pelosi postponed Monday’s scheduled vote on the public works bill until Thursday.
The most difficult action now lies in the Senate, as Democrats are under pressure to garner votes for Biden’s biggest $ 3.5 trillion package.
Two recalcitrant Democrats, Sense Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have said they will not support a bill of this size. Manchin has already proposed spending of $ 1,000 billion to $ 1,500 billion.
With all Republicans opposed, Democratic leaders cannot spare a single vote in the Senate at 50-50, relying on Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie and pass the eventual package.
Biden’s proposal is to be funded by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5% for companies earning more than $ 5 million a year, and increasing the top rate for individuals by 37% at 39.6% for those earning more than $ 400,000 per year. year, or $ 450,000 for couples.
But Pelosi said on Sunday it seemed “obvious” the price will drop to address concerns of remaining lawmakers.
“We will see how the numbers go down and what we need,” she added. “I think even those who want a smaller number support the president’s vision, and it’s really transformative.”
His comments reflected the huge stakes for the coming week, which could define the Biden presidency and shape the political contours of next year’s midterm elections.
Democrats have only a few votes to spare on the massive House for Biden agenda. Some Republican senators backed the $ 1,000 billion public works bill, but now House Republicans are opposing it, saying it’s too much.
While progressives say they’ve compromised enough on Biden’s big bill already, having come down from a bill they initially envisioned to $ 6 trillion, some are also acknowledging the more potential changes.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, did not rule out further cuts to the $ 3.5 trillion proposal to reach a deal.
âIf someone wants to take something away, we have to hear what it is,â she said.
The House budget committee on Saturday put forward an early draft of the 10-year, $ 3.5 trillion bill, despite a Democrat voting “no,” illustrating the challenges party leaders face.
The comprehensive bill embodies the core of Biden’s primary national goals, with billions to rebuild infrastructure, tackle climate change, and expand or introduce a range of services, from free tax breaks for preschool and children to care dental, visual and auditory for older Americans.
While Democrats largely agree on Biden’s vision – many have campaigned on the party’s long-standing priorities – stubborn differences remain. Among them are divergences on which initiatives should be revamped, including how to promote cleaner energy or reduce prescription drug costs.