WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden headed to Capitol Hill to push his revised domestic policy bill and a related bipartisan infrastructure plan with divided House Democrats after days of prolonged negotiations over his ambitious social and climate policies and how to pay for them.
Biden introduced the bill’s “historic economic framework” on Thursday.
“The framework will create millions of jobs and invest in our nation and people,” Biden said. “The framework puts us on a path to win. These plans are fiscally responsible. They’re fully paid for.”
Biden thanked Congress for their leadership and said, “No one got everything they wanted, but that’s compromise.” He said the bill will expand services for seniors, set child care spending limits, extend the child tax credit for three years, increase Pell grants for students, and more.
His remarks came after he traveled to Capitol Hill to make the case to House Democrats for the robust domestic package — $1.75 trillion of social services and climate change programs the White House believes can pass the 50-50 Senate.
Biden says the plan doesn’t add to the nation’s budget deficit and it doesn’t raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 a year.
“These bills continue cutting taxes for the middle class for child care, for health care, and so much more,” Biden said.
The president said he will share more about the infrastructure plan after his trip to Europe.
Democrats’ disputes over the big domestic policy bill have held up passage of a separate $1 trillion package of road, broadband and other infrastructure projects that cleared the Senate with bipartisan support. Progressive House Democrats want to see the fine print of the big domestic bill before voting on the infrastructure measure.
The $3.5 trillion domestic measure has shrunk to about $1.75 trillion as negotiations progressed. Still in the mix: expanded health care programs, free pre-kindergarten and some $500 billion to tackle climate change.
And Democrats are eyeing a new surcharge on the wealthy — 5% on incomes above $10 million and an additional 3% on those beyond $25 million — to help pay for it, according to a person who insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks.
The billionaires’ tax proposal had been designed to win over another Democratic holdout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, but Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia panned it as unfairly targeting the wealthy, leaving Democrats at odds.
“People in the stratosphere, rather than trying to penalize, we ought to be pleased that this country is able to produce the wealth,” Manchin told reporters.
Manchin said he prefers a minimum 15% flat “patriotic tax” to ensure the wealthiest Americans don’t skip out on paying any taxes. Nevertheless, he said, “We need to move forward.”
Next to fall was a proposed paid family leave program that was already being chiseled back from 12 to four weeks to satisfy Manchin. But with his objections, it was unlikely to be included in the bill, the person said.
In the evenly divided Senate, Biden needs all Democrats’ support with no votes to spare.
A Sunday deadline loomed for approving a smaller, bipartisan roads-and-bridges infrastructure bill or risk allowing funds for routine transportation programs to expire.
Despite a series of deadlines, Democrats have been unable to close the deal among themselves, and Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the package. At best, Democrats could potentially reach a framework that could send Biden overseas with a deal in hand and unlock the process while the final details were sewn up.
“I wish they’d negotiate with Republicans in the House,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said on “Fox News Sunday” last week.
“They just have an insatiable appetite to raise taxes and spend more money. It would kill jobs, it would hit middle class families … It makes absolutely no sense,” he said.
Democrats had hoped the unveiling of the billionaires tax Wednesday could help resolve the revenue side of the equation after Sinema rejected the party’s earlier idea of reversing Trump-era tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy, those earning more than $400,000.
The new billionaires’ proposal would tax the gains of those with more than $1 billion in assets or incomes of more than $100 million over three consecutive years — fewer than 800 people — requiring them pay taxes on the gains of stocks and other tradeable assets, rather than waiting until holdings are sold.
Democrats have said it could raise $200 billion in revenue that could help fund Biden’s package over 10 years. Republicans have derided the billionaires’ tax as “harebrained,” and some have suggested it would face a legal challenge.
More likely in the mix was the companion proposal, a new 15% corporate minimum tax, as well as the new surtax being proposed on higher incomes above $10 million.
Together, they are designed to fulfill Biden’s desire for the wealthy and big business to pay their “fair share.” They also fit his promise that no new taxes would hit those earning less than $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for couples. Biden wants his package fully paid for without piling on debt.
Among Democrats, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he told Biden the billionaires’ tax may be difficult to implement. Despite Sinema’s opposition, he expects Democrats to stick with the approach his panel took in simply raising rates on corporations and the wealthy, undoing the 2017 tax cuts.
“There’s a lot of there’s a lot of angst in there over the billionaires’ tax,” Neal said.
Under the House bill approved by Neal’s panel, the top individual income tax rate would rise from 37% to 39.6%, on those earning more than $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for couples. The corporate rate would increase from 21% to 26.5%.
The House bill also proposes a 3% surtax on the wealthiest Americans with adjusted income beyond $5 million a year, and Neal suggested that could be raised to $10 million to win over the holdouts.
Opposition from the two senators is forcing difficult reductions, if not the outright elimination, of policy priorities — from child care assistance to dental, vision and hearing aid benefits for seniors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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