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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Biden, Sumer, Manchin huddled together, but still no budget deal

Written by LISA MASCARO and NADEZHDA YEN

WASHINGTON (AP) – Key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin appears to support White House proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain corporations to help pay for President Joe Biden’s cut social services and a climate change package.

Biden got baffled with West Virginia conservative Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the president’s Delaware home on Sunday as they work to resolve the centrists-progressives disputes that have stymied the Democratic’s large-scale bill. A man who asked to remain anonymous to discuss Manchin’s position told The Associated Press that the senator agrees with the White House’s new approach to tax proposals.

What used to be a $ 3.5 trillion ambitious plan is now seen as a $ 1.75 trillion package. The range could still be significantly higher, according to a second person who asked to remain anonymous to discuss private negotiations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that even with “half” of the initial $ 3.5 trillion proposed, Biden’s signature domestic initiative would be larger than any other legislative package with large investments in health, childcare and climate change strategies.

“This is less than originally thought, but still more than anything we have ever done in terms of meeting the needs of American working families,” Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Democrats are working hard to try again to finalize negotiations on this measure so that the president can highlight his administration’s accomplishments to world leaders at two overseas economic and climate change summits this week.

Biden met with Manchin and Schumer, DN.Y., at the president’s Wilmington home after Democrats missed a dispute resolution deadline last week. Biden said he would like to receive the $ 2 trillion package, and they are again trying to reach an agreement in the coming week.

It is unclear what level of new taxes Manchin will support, but he generally supports the White House proposals, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss Manchin’s position. No individual who wished to remain anonymous was authorized to discuss negotiations by name.

The White House said the breakfast meeting was a “productive debate” on the president’s agenda. The talks appeared to have lasted several hours, but no decisions were announced. A White House statement after the meeting said the Democrats “continued to make progress.”

Addressing the income problem is key, as Democrats insist that new spending will be paid in full through various taxes.

Manchin and another Democrat, Senator Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, almost independently stopped the advancement of Biden’s proposal. With a Republican opposition and an evenly split 50-50 Senate, Biden has no extra votes, and two Democratic senators have pushed for a reduction in the size of the huge package and pushed for other changes.

One of the key discussions took place over the proceeds to pay for the package after Sinema rejected a previous plan to end the Republican tax cuts in 2017 and raise rates for corporations making more than $ 5 million a year and wealthy Americans making over $ 400,000. or $ 450,000 for couples.

Instead, the White House is considering a tax on the investment income of billionaires – fewer than the richest 1,000 Americans with at least $ 1 billion in assets. He also introduced a minimum corporate tax of 15% to ensure that all companies pay what Biden calls their “fair share” – ending the practice of some high-profile firms not paying taxes.

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The Democrats originally planned that Biden’s package would include spending and tax initiatives worth $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years. But demands from moderates led by Manchin and Sinema to contain costs mean its final price may well be less than $ 2 trillion.

Controversy continues over far-reaching investments, including plans to expand Medicare coverage to include dental, ophthalmic and hearing aids for the elderly; assistance in caring for a child; and free preschool.

Pelosi, Calif., Told CNN that Democrats are still working to maintain provisions for four weeks of paid family leave, but acknowledged that other proposals, such as extending Medicare to include dental coverage, may prove harder to save money. for the cost.

Pelosi reiterated that about 90% is complete and said she expects an agreement by the end of the week, paving the way for a House vote on a separate $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill before next Sunday, Oct.31, when a number of transportation programs will end. … … In the summer, the Senate approved a package of projects for roads, broadband and other public works, but the measure stalled in the House of Representatives during deliberations on Biden’s broader bill.

Manchin, whose state has a large coal industry, opposed Biden’s initial proposals for climate change, which included a plan to punish utilities that didn’t switch quickly to clean energy. Democrats are also currently devising other climate change strategies to meet Biden’s goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

Democrats had hoped that Biden would be able to mention the major accomplishments when he attended a global conference in Scotland on climate change in early November after attending a summit of world leaders in Rome.

Senator Angus King, an independent Maine senator who is factioning with Democrats, said the expected cut in clean energy provisions in the spending bill was particularly disappointing.

“If we’re going to get the rest of the world to take serious steps to address this problem, we must do it ourselves,” King said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Pelosi insisted that Democrats included other strategies in the spending bill that could cut emissions. “We will have something that matches the goals of the president,” she said.

Democrats also want to make progress that could help Democrat Terry McAuliffe win the November 2 Virginia gubernatorial election.

Rep. Ro Hannah, a member of the US Congress Progressive Group, argued that his rally would not budge in support of the infrastructure bill until October 31, unless agreement is reached on a broader package to be passed under the so-called reconciliation rules. budget. …

“The president needs a reconciliation agreement to go to Glasgow,” Hannah, California, told Fox News Sunday. He added: “This is what will deal with climate change, this is what will achieve his goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030. I am confident that we will reach an agreement. “

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Associated Press author Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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