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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Biden and Dems scramble to save social, climate package

By Lisa Mascaro and Farnosh Amiri

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, along with progressive and moderate Democrats, is determined to return to the negotiating table with Sen. Joe Manchin, the holdout Democrat who effectively thwarted the party’s signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative. Gave.

In the days since the West Virginia lawmaker gave a thumbs up on the package, a surprise blow to months of talks on Biden’s agenda, Democrats from the left and center joined the White House in an effort to salvage the social services and climate change bill. Have become. ,

Congress Progressive Caucus principal representative Pramila Jayapal said in a statement on Wednesday, “We have worked too long and now have worked very hard to give up, and we have no intention of doing so.”

Jayapal said he and caucus members expressed the need for the White House to achieve the plan’s goals through a combination of Biden’s executive powers and legislation, rather than legislation alone.

“The legislative approach, while necessary, has no certainty of timing or outcome,” she said, “and we simply cannot wait to give people the real relief they can feel and the difference in their lives and livelihoods.” Will bring.”

At the same time, White House officials spoke with Representative Suzanne DelBene, D-Wash., chair of the House’s centrist New Democrat Coalition, over their plan to reduce the number of provisions, but whether they remain in effect long enough. Munchkin said he supports that approach but progressives have warned against reducing the number of initiatives set out in a framework released by the White House in late October.

But Republicans are now expressing more confidence that they can leave much behind what they don’t like in the package. “As we end the year, I feel like they can’t swallow spinach,” Senate Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said of Democrats on Wednesday.

Biden spoke on Tuesday about the families that would benefit from Democrats’ ambitious plan to pour billions of dollars into child care, health care and other services, if now highly uncertain.

“Senator Munchkin and I are going to do something,” Biden said.

The president’s off-the-cuff remarks were his first public statement since Manchin’s announcement over the weekend that he would not support the bill, as it is.

Since then, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on Democrats to expect a vote in January on the package over a 90-minute video call.

Schumer told senators that the party was “not giving up” on the proposal, according to a Democrat who was on a private call Tuesday and provided details on condition of anonymity.

But Democrats face serious questions about whether the initiative can be restarted to win Munchkin’s crucial vote and suffer a devastating defeat for the party.

Munchkin and his party are so far apart, their relationship has deteriorated after months of unsuccessful talks, it’s unclear how they get back to the negotiating table, let alone reviving the more than 2,100-page bill. Just leave it

This is all encouraging for McConnell.

“Now, I know that Schumer said on a call last night that he is not giving up,” the Kentucky Republican told The Hugh Hewitt Show. “I don’t expect him to do that, but the worst of the BBB, it seems to me, is dead.” He used shorthand for Build Back Better Plan.

Biden spoke eloquently about the economic pressures that take away the “dignity of parents” trying to pay the bills, and the millions they could get with legislation from the federal government. He also said that his package will help in easing inflationary pressures and analyzes indicate that it will give a boost to the economy.

“I want to get things done,” Biden said. “I still think the build back is likely to be better.”

The setback casts Biden’s top legislative effort into deep doubt at a critical time, kicking off the end of the presidency’s first year and ahead of congressional midterm elections when the Democrats’ thin grip on Congress was under threat.

Coupled with solid Republican opposition, Munchkin’s vote is crucial on this and other initiatives, including Democrats’ priority voting rights legislation, which Schumer also said would lead to early voting.

Schumer has said the Senate will bring forward proposals to change Senate rules if Republicans continue to block voting rights legislation in January, a Democrat said over a video call. It’s a nod to long-running efforts to accommodate or eliminate the filibuster, which typically requires a 60-vote threshold for measures to move forward.

While Manchin has said he cannot explain the bill to constituents in West Virginia, a union representing coal miners, which includes some of the roughly 12,000 in his home state, called on the lawmaker to ask for the package “in his own right”. urged to reconsider the protest”.

Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, outlined the ways the package would benefit union members, such as those in West Virginia, the most coal-dependent state in the country.

Some of those provisions would increase current fees paid by coal companies to fund benefits received by victims of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung. According to the union, the bill would also provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields, potentially employing miners who have lost their jobs.

The next steps are extremely uncertain for the president and his party, as Congress is on recess for the holiday season.

The White House appears to be interested in Manchin and the centrist coalition’s preference for a reimagined bill that would last much shorter but longer than the bill passed by the House.

But it will be extraordinarily difficult for Democrats to rebuild confidence in their ranks for a new round of talks devoted to Biden’s first year in office, which is now essentially a collapsed effort.

The package was the largest ever of its kind in Congress, setting aside billions of dollars to help American families across the country—almost all paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

For families with children, it will provide free pre-school and child care assistance. There are subsidies for health insurance premiums, lower prescription drug costs, and expanded Medicaid access in states that do not yet provide it. The bill will introduce a new hearing aid program for senior citizens. And it has more than $500 billion to curb carbon emissions, a figure considered to be the largest federal spending ever to tackle climate change.

A possible new deadline for Biden and his party comes with the end of an expanded child tax credit that is sending $300 monthly directly into the bank accounts of millions of families. If Congress fails to act, money will not come in January.


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Kevin Freaking and Colleen Long contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected by removing references to Jayapal and caucus members talking to the White House.

World Nation News Desk
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