WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden expects to get full Democratic support when he unveils a new framework Thursday for the sweeping social safety net package that includes money for child care and climate change, senior administration officials said.
But he may face an uphill struggle when he meets with leery lawmakers who have watched their priorities dwindle from the package during months of haggling.
Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Thursday morning to huddle behind closed doors with House Democrats to present the parameters of the package. He is then expected to deliver remarks at the White House in the late morning and is scheduled to leave for his trip to Europe in the midafternoon.
Biden told reporters when he arrived on the hill that “everybody’s on board” when asked whether he has support for the proposal.
Senior administration officials said that the measure will total about $1.75 trillion in funding, which they described as “the most transformative investment in children’s caregiving in generations, the largest effort to combat climate change in history, a historic tax cut for tens of millions of middle-class families and the biggest expansion of affordable health care in decades.”
The latest version does not appear to include funding for paid family leave, a piece that had been a priority for many Democrats, including several women lawmakers.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain touted the new proposal in a tweet, “It’s twice as big, in real dollars, as the New Deal was. This can be the Congress that goes from 12 years of universal education to 14 years; [that] makes the largest investment in fighting climate change ever; that cuts what families pay for child care in half.”
White House officials said that the measure will be fully paid for through new taxes and reduce the deficit by generating about $2 trillion in revenue through an array of changes to the tax system. Officials stressed that no one making less than $400,000 will have their taxes raised.
The measure will provide for six years of universal free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, extend the child tax credit that was originally implemented by a previous coronavirus rescue package, and reduce premiums by an average of $600 per year for more than 9 million Americans who buy insurance through the Obamacare marketplace, the officials said.
Notably, the officials said that in addition to closing a Medicaid coverage gap, the framework would expand Medicare coverage to include hearing services. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had been pushing for expanding Medicare to cover vision and dental services, as well.
The legislation, they said, will also aim to start cutting climate pollution and put the United States on a track to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030. It would provide clean energy tax credits and an electric vehicle tax credit that would lower the cost of an electric vehicle by up to $12,500 per middle-class family, the officials said.
Biden heads to Europe later Thursday, where he will meet with other world leaders in Scotland to discuss climate, giving him an element of his agenda to tout.
Officials said that the bill will make the “single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing history,” extend the earned income tax credit for 17 million low-wage workers and provide funding for historic Black colleges and universities.
While the bill doesn’t provide for a path to citizenship, the officials said that it would allocate $100 billion toward reducing immigration backlogs and expanding legal representation.
To pay for the bill, the framework will raise taxes on the highest-income Americans by creating a surtax on the incomes of multimillionaires and billionaires, officials said, adding that it would also invest in the IRS to ensure that wealthy Americans are paying the taxes that they owe.
They also said that the legislation would impose a 15 percent minimum tax on corporate profits that large corporations with more than a billion in profits report to their shareholders and a 1 percent tax on stock buybacks. To punish companies that ship their profits overseas, the bill would impose a 50 percent minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations.
As far as the proposals that have been scrapped, officials said that they weren’t able to agree on provisions that would give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices for Americans.
NBC News reported Wednesday that Democrats dropped a proposal for paid family and medical leave from the spending package after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., expressed opposition. Biden had originally proposed 12 weeks of paid leave, then last week it was reduced to four weeks before it was eliminated altogether.
White House officials voiced confidence Thursday morning that the framework would earn the support of all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus and pass the House. But it may not be that simple.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have been at odds throughout the talks with the two moderate senators who have thrown up numerous roadblocks, Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the progressive caucus whip, said Thursday there are concerns that Sinema or Manchin may not follow through on a framework. She said the caucus position remains that the Senate should pass a bill first before they agree to support the infrastructure bill.
“There is certainly a trust issue,” Omar told NBC News. “I mean, people who are constantly changing their position can’t be trusted. So we have to actually have legislation that we vote on in order to trust that that legislation would be the final bill.”
Sanders told progressive members that he supports their demand for legislative text before they agree to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, according to two aides familiar. “No legislative text, no [Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan],” one aide said is their position.
The White House wanted at least a deal on the measure’s framework before Biden leaves for Europe because he doesn’t want to appear empty-handed at the G-20 summit in Rome and the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Democrats have said that the bill had to be dramatically cut from the original $3.5 trillion proposal. Biden told progressives last week that he was considering a price range of $1.75 trillion to $1.9 trillion for the final package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been aiming to hold a vote Thursday on the $550 billion Senate-passed infrastructure measure, but progressives have insisted that the larger social safety net bill proceed in tandem with the infrastructure package.