President Joe Biden debuted an updated version of his “Build Back Better” spending plan, this time scaled back from the $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” plan proposed months ago, in hopes that a fractured Democratic party can unite behind both this and the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill.
“The $1.75 trillion proposal focuses on care for families, addressing the climate crisis, expanding access to health care, lowering costs for the middle class and tax reforms,” CNN reported. “The President on Thursday morning headed to Capitol Hill to pitch his framework to the House Democratic Caucus and will later deliver remarks from the White House to make his case to the American people.”
The new bill drops paid family leave, but keeps universal preschool as well as child care subsidies, expands “affordable housing,” and focuses on climate change policies, and expands the social safety net.
“This will be the mean the most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations, the largest effort to combat climate change in history, a historic tax cut for tens of millions of middle-class families and the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade,” a senior administration official told the network.
The re-introduced bill comes on the heels of a string of White House failures in selling a more ambitious “Build Back Better” spending bill which would have spent double the new $1.75 trillion compromise package. Progressives were not willing to back a bipartisan infrastructure bill without a guarantee that the expansive spending measure would pass the Senate, and key senators were not willing to back the expansive spending bill without major cuts.
Republicans have exited the process altogether; Democrats will need full participation to pass both measures and, in the Senate, all Democrats must vote for the expansive Build Back Better bill because it is scheduled to pass through reconciliation — a procedure that requires the bill to be budget-focused, but also allows the Senate to pass it with a simple majority rather than a super-majority.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a Rules Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, anticipating that the bill will pass the House before the end of the day. The White House has indicated that they would prefer the bill pass before the president lands in Rome. The bill has not gone to either caucus for markup and it has not gone to the Congressional Budget Office for a rating.
Biden told media Thursday that his presidency “will be determined by what happens in the next week,” implying that Congress should pass the plan in order to cement the president’s agenda before his first year ends, marking the beginning of the 2022 mid-term elections.
Fox News reports that, despite the White House’s belief that their compromise plan will attract all parties to the table, progressives are expressing skepticism, noting that they must trust Senators, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to negotiate the bill in the Senate.
At least one member of the House Progressive Caucus told media, “I don’t think it will pass if it comes up today.”