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Biden agenda suffers setback but Pelosi insists infrastructure vote will happen Friday

Friday begins another day of dissary for Democrats with frustration boiling over after officials were unable to come to a deal on President Joe Biden‘s multitrillion dollar spending plans, causing the House to abandon a planned vote on an infrustracture deal and leaving moderates and liberals seething as the party’s civil war escalated.   

Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders ranted about the situation after exiting Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, where negotiations were taking place behind closed doors. 

‘It is an absurd way to do business, to be negotiating a multi trillion dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what’s going on. That’s unacceptable,’ he said. 

Asked if he would sign on to a deal, he responded: ‘What deal, what deal? We do not what the deal is.’  

The key players – Democratic leadership, White House aides, moderates and liberals – huddled in the basement of the Capitol building late into Thursday night before throwing in the towel shortly before 11 pm, calling off the House’s vote on Biden’s infrastructure plan and vowing to continue the talks on Friday. 

The move was a victory for the progressive wing of the party, which held firm to their threat to tank Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan if the moderate faction does not also back his $3.5 trillion social spending bill. 

And it was a blow to Biden, who prides himself on his reputation as a dealmaker and his deep ties to Capitol Hill. 

It leaves his domestic agenda hanging in the balance as the president works frantically to salvage the situation. 

Lights were on in the West Wing of the White House late into the night and a Marine guard stood at the front door, a sign Biden remained in the Oval Office, working the phone lines.

Officials will try again on Friday. 

‘There’ll be a vote today,’ a weary-looking Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters as she left the Capitol at 12.01am on Friday. ‘We’re not trillions apart.’ 

However, it remained unclear what progress — if any — had been made between the warring factions, and Pelosi has already twice delayed the vote after first promising it on Monday, and then on Thursday, angering moderates with the delays.

Leadership and White House officials spent Thursday evening targeting moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who said they could not support the topline price of $3.5 trillion for Biden’s budget package of social programs.

They hoped to convince the two to agree to a $2.1 trillion topline number, Politico reported, but the senators did not sign on.

‘We’re in good-faith negotiations, we’ll continue in good-faith negotiations,’ Manchin told the reporters who swarmed him as he left the Capitol.  

Senator Bernie Sanders blasted the last-minute negotiations on Biden’s economic agenda: ‘It is an absurd way to do business, to be negotiating a multi trillion dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what’s going on’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to delay a vote planned for Thursday on the bipartisan bill to rebuild roads and bridges amid a progressive revolt, but vowed to bring the measure to the floor on Friday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to delay a vote planned for Thursday on the bipartisan bill to rebuild roads and bridges amid a progressive revolt, but vowed to bring the measure to the floor on Friday

Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key players, said negotiations would continue on Friday as he left the Capitol building late Thursday night

Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key players, said negotiations would continue on Friday as he left the Capitol building late Thursday night

At the White House, a Marine guard was on duty late outside the West Wing, a sign President Joe Biden was in the Oval Office, working the phones

At the White House, a Marine guard was on duty late outside the West Wing, a sign President Joe Biden was in the Oval Office, working the phones

Manchin has said he wants the budget package to come in at $1.5 trillion – a number he is sticking to. 

House progressives, who are holding enough votes to spike any legislation, have vowed to vote against the infrastructure bill unless the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion number.

Pelosi tried to use the pressure of Thursday’s vote deadline to get a deal done but her manuever failed. She did get all sides to the table and talking but it’s unclear if there was any movement.

The progressive wing of the party, meanwhile, has dug in their heels, now saying they want a Senate vote on the $3.5 trillion package before they’ll support the infrastructure bill.  

Measure to prevent government shutdown passes hours before deadline 

Congress earlier on Thursday wrestled Washington back from the brink of a government shutdown by voting to continue funding the government through December 3. 

Biden signed the measure before funding was to run out at midnight.

‘There´s so much more to do. But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people,’ Biden said in a statement.

The House approved the measure in a bipartisan 254-175 vote, hours after it passed the Senate by 65-35.

Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar, a leader of House progressives, told reporters: ‘Nothing has changed with our caucus members. We don’t have the votes to pass infrastructure.’

Progressives originally wanted a $6 trillion package. Rep. Cori Bush argued the $3.5 trillion ‘was the compromise.’ 

The impasse resulted in Biden’s own party digging in to halt almost his entire domestic policy agenda.   

Officials insisted that progress had been made, and the White House vowed to bring the warring groups back to the table first thing on Friday.

‘A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,’ said Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

‘But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing.’ 

The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has already passed the Senate, now needs only to pass the Democrat-controlled House before it heads to Biden’s desk. 

The broader spending package is now in a budgetary process called reconciliation, which requires every Democrat in the evenly divided Senate to vote yes in order to pass without Republican support.

Throughout the day on Thursday, Democratic holdouts Manchin and Sinema were huddled in close talks with White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, and other White House officials. 

After sundown, Pelosi issued a letter to Democratic colleagues saying that it had been ‘a very productive and crucial day.’

‘It has been a day of progress in fulfilling the President’s vision to Build Back Better,’ she wrote, referencing the slogan for Biden’s domestic agenda. 

‘All of this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass the House and Senate,’ Pelosi added. 

But as the hours stretched on, it became clear no deal was apparent. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves a private meeting with White House officials on Capitol Hill Thursday, but appeared to reach no deal

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves a private meeting with White House officials on Capitol Hill Thursday, but appeared to reach no deal

Reporters sit in the hallway outside of a closed-door meeting with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and White House officials in the basement of the Capitol

Reporters sit in the hallway outside of a closed-door meeting with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and White House officials in the basement of the Capitol

The setback for Biden’s agenda came despite a moment of victory earlier in the day as Republicans and Democrats agreed to keep funding the federal government through December 3. 

But instead of inviting reporters into the Oval Office to watch the president sign a funding bill to keep the government running, the White House simply sent out a picture of the signing and a statement.

‘There’s so much more to do,’ said Biden. 

‘But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people.’   

Speaker Nancy Pelosi exits the Capitol building after midnight on Thursday after officials failed to come to a deal on Biden's domestic agenda

Speaker Nancy Pelosi exits the Capitol building after midnight on Thursday after officials failed to come to a deal on Biden’s domestic agenda

The White House issued a photograph of President Biden signing a bill to avert government shutdown on Thursday rather than inviting press cameras to witness the moment as he and officials battle to stave off an embarrassing setback to his domestic policy agenda

The White House issued a photograph of President Biden signing a bill to avert government shutdown on Thursday rather than inviting press cameras to witness the moment as he and officials battle to stave off an embarrassing setback to his domestic policy agenda

House progressives, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, vowed to vote against the infrastructure bill unless Manchin and Sinema sign on to support a bigger $3.5 trillion social spending package as well

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Sen. Joe Manchin 'fundamentally unserious' for saying he could only support a $1.5 trillion spending bill - $2 trillion less than Biden's proposal

House progressives, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (left) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right), vowed to vote against the infrastructure bill unless Manchin and Sinema sign on to support a bigger $3.5 trillion social spending package as well

The legislation to keep the government open was a bright spot on Thursday as moderates and liberals hammered each other in public while trying to hammer out a deal behind closed doors 

The two Democratic holdouts posed for a picture on Thursday morning as Sinema said talks had been productive

The two Democratic holdouts posed for a picture on Thursday morning as Sinema said talks had been productive

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush blasted Manchin for now demanding that Democrats trim the budget package to $1.5 trillion after backing an earlier version of the massive plan.

‘We need to be serious and right now when we are seeing from the conservative side and the small cadre of people is a fundamentally unserious pattern of negotiation,’ Ocasio-Cortez told ABC News. 

She ridiculed what she saw as a change in stance.

‘Which senator are we negotiating with?’ she asked. 

‘Will it be June Manchin? Is it September Manchin? Is it August Manchin? … Will it be a different senator that pops up?’

House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal also condemned moderates for standing in the way of the bigger spending package.

‘We won’t let massive corporations, billionaires, and a few conservative Democrats stand in the way of delivering transformational progress for millions of working people,’ she said in a tweet.

‘Stick to the plan. Pass both bills, together.’ 

The huge bill will be funded with tax hikes that mainly target the rich.

They included raising the corporate tax rate from 21 per cent to 26 percent for the biggest companies, and the top income tax rate for Americans making over $400,000 would increase from 37 per cent to 39.6 percent. The top capital gains rate would also go from 20 percent to 25 percent.

With the two wings of the Democratic Party apparently at war, the White House tried to play down the idea that Biden was not in control of his own party.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said different opinions were a normal part of politics.

‘This is how democracy works,’ she said during her daily briefing before aiming a dig at former President Donald Trump.

‘I know it feels foreign because there wasn’t much that happened over the last couple of years

‘But how it works is the American people elect their elected officials, the president of the United States puts forward a bold and ambitious proposal, and then everybody negotiates about it.’

BIDEN’S $3.5T BUILD BACK BETTER PLAN: WHAT’S IN THE 2,465-PAGE BILL AND HOW THE DEMOCRATS WILL PAY FOR IT 

The text of the Build Back Better Act, released by Democrats on the House Budget Committee over the weekend, for the first time reveals how President Biden’s allies plan to spend a whopping $3.5 trillion.

Critics have already seized on one of its most controversial measures: An extra $79 billion for the Internal Revenue Service over the next decade to expand audits and strengthen enforcement.

There are also a number of welfare, social and climate provisions contained in the 2,465 page bill that have led to opposition from moderates in the Democratic party and Republicans. 

Two free years of community college

The legislation provides two years of free community college for all students. The anticipated to cost $108 billion.

The bill would also add $80 billion in funding for Pell Grants for families with a total income of up to $50,000 which Democrats say hasn’t kept pace with the increasing cost of college.

Climate change

The plan includes $3 billion for ‘tree equity’, $12 billion for electric cars, $1 billion more to turn government facilities into ‘high-performance green buildings’ and millions more for gender identity and bias training.

The legislation would also spend billions of dollars to tackle climate change, including President Biden’s proposed ‘Climate Change Corps.’ It would get $7.5 billion for conservation work on public lands.

Government training 

Race and gender-based issues come with smaller spending, but will likely raise hackles among Republicans and moderate Democrats.

The bill includes $25 billion for non-profits to provide ‘anti-discrimination and bias training’ in health care.

Biden spoke to Republicans and Democrats during a visit to the Congressional baseball game on Wednesday evening

Biden spoke to Republicans and Democrats during a visit to the Congressional baseball game on Wednesday evening

Extended child tax credit

Democrats expanded the child tax credit for 2021 in their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, and now want to extend it through 2025.

Under the enhancement, families receive $3,600 per child under age 6, and $3,000 per child age 6 to 18. Most families receive monthly payments of either $250 or $300 per child.

The full expanded child tax credit is available to individuals making up to $75,000 or married couples making up to $150,000, 

Tax cuts for workers without children

The White House says roughly 17 million low-wage workers will benefit from the increase in the Earned-Income tax credit from $543 to $1,502. 

Paid family medical leave

U.S. would have comprehensive paid leave, covering 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The legislation would replace at least two-thirds of earnings, up to $4,000 per month, while the lowest-paid workers would receive 80 percent of their income.

Child care and universal pre-K

Every family that applies shall be offered child care assistance for children ages 0 to 5. In all, the plan allocates roughly $450 billion to lower the cost of child care and provide two years of universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the House Education and Labor Committee.

The panel estimated that this proposal would keep the cost of child care at or below 7 per cent of most families’ income.

Medicare expansion

This heavily debated provision would expand Medicare to include coverage of dental, hearing and vision services. 

Cut prescription drug prices

Another key part of the bill is aimed at helping to slash prescription drug prices. 

Americans on average pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs, according to the White House.

The administration will lower drug costs by letting Medicare negotiate prices and removing the impact of pharmaceutical companies. 

How the Biden administration plans to pay for it

Democrats have included tax plan to pay for the huge bill, that mainly targets the rich.

The corporate tax rate would rise from 21 per cent to 26 percent, and the top income tax rate for Americans making over $400,000 would increase from 37 per cent to 39.6 percent. The top capital gains rate would also go from 20 percent to 25 percent.

Biden has promised he won’t raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000, but Republicans insist that simply won’t happen. 

Democrats are also looking to spend $79billion in additional funding to bulk up IRS enforcement and try and crack down on tax avoiders.

This includes a plan that banks will be have to report transactions over $600 to the IRS. 

This crackdown on unreported income is expected to generate $463 billion over the next decade, according to the Office of Tax Analysis. That money would be used to partially fund Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the tax changes spearheaded by Democrats would raise more than $2 trillion in revenue over 10 years, with roughly $1 trillion in tax increases from high-income Americans and nearly $1 trillion from corporate and international tax reforms.

How much will it really cost?

The White House has suggested that the huge spending plan will cost ‘zero dollars’.

But an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) found the proposals in the agenda would require the US to directly borrow $1 trillion, projecting that nearly $3 trillion would be added to the national debt over the next 10 years.

The former measure, which passed the Senate in August, would only offset its own costs by about $200 billion according to the CRFB. That leaves $350 billion to be paid.  

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