With infrastructure bill signed, is social spending next?

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden took what some political commentators are calling a victory lap after he signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday. But if this is analogous to winning a sporting event, one of the big players is already looking ahead to the next match.

“Now this bill, as significant as it is, as historic, as it is, is part one of two,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at the signing ceremony. “To lower costs and cut taxes for working families and to tackle the climate crisis at its core, Congress must also pass the Build Back Better Act.”

Biden tried unsuccessfully to tie the infrastructure package to passage of a broader package of $1.85 trillion in proposed spending on families, health care and a shift to renewable energy that could help address climate change. That measure has yet to gain sufficient support from the narrow Democratic majorities in the Senate and House.

Biden continues to work to appease Democratic skeptics of the broader package such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, while also holding to to the most liberal branches of his party. Pelosi said in remarks at the Monday bill signing that the separate package will pass “hopefully this week.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is whipping votes to try to get the bill passed, but acknowledged its current form is far from what his progressive caucus had in mind.

“The president was pretty realistic,” Khanna said on NewsNation’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert” on Monday. “And he said, this is what he thinks he can get passed, and I think around that framework is where the party will come together.”

That framework no longer includes some incentives for renewable energy and paid family leave because of the Democrats’ need to get all 50 senators to vote yes. They have less than a handful of votes to spare in the House.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrive before President Joe Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Some holdouts, including Manchin, insist on seeing the score of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office to see what the projected impact to the country’s wallet would be. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell panned the bill as reckless and questioned whether the Democrats’ plans to raise taxes on wealthy Americans would be enough to cover its $1.75 trillion price tag.

Khanna said the details of that price tag may not be as dramatic.

“$1.75 trillion is over 10 years,” he told NewsNation. “And it’s actually less than 1% of our GDP, and it’s far less than our defense budget. Defense over 10 years is about $7.5 trillion. So I think we have to put the numbers in context.”

Momentum on the bill fizzled over the summer when it became clear Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) would not support the initial $3 trillion version. Biden announced a compromise last month, but it proved premature as Manchin balked at several provisions.

“This is democracy,” Khanna said. “You know, we’re not China, we’re not Russia. President doesn’t get up and say, ‘Do what I want.’ It’s tough, and it’s supposed to be tough.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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