The White House released its supposedly final “framework” for an agreement on President Joe Biden’s big climate and family economic plan Thursday, ahead of a morning meeting with House Democrats. Until Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema actually cast their votes for it, it should not be considered final by anyone. After meeting with House Democrats, Biden will hold a press conference to announce further steps.
The outline released by the White House focuses the largest chunk of the $1.75 trillion package on climate: $550 billon consisting of consumer rebates and tax credits to shift to clean energy, with “ a new, electrification-focused rebate program.” The next largest chunk is $400 billion for child care and universal pre-K, and then the child tax credit expansion at $200 billion. Out from the original proposal, so far, are paid family leave, dental and vision coverage in Medicare (hearing coverage is still in it), and prescription drug price reductions. The White House says it is paid for with up to $1.99 trillion in new taxes on stock buybacks (1%), surtaxes on ultra-high earners, 15% corporate minimum tax, and overseas corporation tax changes in addition to closing some loopholes and other measures.
Will it pass? Will the bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s tied to it pass? That’s still all unclear. Biden is trying to convince House progressives that they can trust the Senate to pass the good stuff. That’s not at all a given, says Sen. Dick Durbin, majority whip. “No, I wish I could say yes, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty within the caucus as to what’s contained in the deal.” As of Wednesday evening, Democratic women senators were seething over Manchin killing paid family leave. “We’re not going to let one man tell all the women in this country that they can’t have paid leave,” Sen. Patty Murray told reporters. Sen. Amy Klobuchar reiterated that Thursday morning.
The Senate has already passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the one that Manchin and Sinema dragged out for months and months while trying to kill this larger deal in hopes that they could create the situation we are in right now—another looming deadline (though this is a false one) of having to pass it by Oct. 31. That’s when the federal highway funding expires. It could easily be renewed in a standalone bill. Nonetheless, the House leader is threatening a vote today on that bill. The leader of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, is pushing back.
She wants to see something concrete. “My understanding is the framework is very general, so let’s turn in into legislative text. If 90% of the text is already written as the Speaker has said, then it should be very quick. We can do in anywhere from 2-7 days. We should be able to get it done.”
Biden urged Democrats to pass the bipartisan bill Thursday, and leadership announced it was going to start formally whipping the bill, when they really put the pressure on. This isn’t going to help, letting Manchin and Sinema remain mum as to whether they’ll support the big bill.
Manchin and Sinema have done absolutely nothing in this process to make themselves worthy of anyone’s trust. There’s no reason, zero, for the House to pass their bill without the Senate passing the remnants of Build Back Better first.