US President Joe Biden unveiled a revamped $ 1.75 trillion (£ 1.27 trillion) spending plan Thursday, calling it a historic investment in the country’s future.
“Nobody got everything they wanted, including me,” he said, acknowledging the struggle within his party to reach consensus on a couple of key bills.
Tight margins in Congress require near-unanimous support from Democrats for bills to be passed.
They include major investments in infrastructure, climate and childcare.
Biden’s Democratic Party hinted this week that a deal was on the horizon, ahead of Biden’s trip to Europe later on Thursday. President Biden will travel to Rome, the Vatican and later to Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations climate conference, COP26.
But it remains to be seen whether Biden has reached the level of cooperation needed within his party to push the spending plan forward.
This new proposal is thought to be a scaled-down version of the approximately $ 3.5 trillion social spending plan favored by progressives.
Biden was supposed to use his Thursday morning meeting with House Democrats to convince the party’s progressives that this new version is close enough to the original bill and to convince the House of Representatives progressives to pass a separate bill for the $ 1 trillion infrastructure that has already passed in the Senate.
It’s a delicate balance for Biden, who seeks to appeal to his party’s progressives – who say they need intervention on the social spending bill before moving on to infrastructure – and to some moderates, for whom the bill is infrastructure law is a priority. Others were concerned about the price of the original social spending bill.
So what’s in the proposed new spending plan?
- 555 billion dollars aimed at combating climate change, mainly through tax incentives for renewable and low-emission energy sources
- 400 billion dollars for free and universal preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds
- $ 165 billion to reduce health premiums for the nine million Americans covered by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare
- $ 150 billion to build one million affordable housing units
A 50-50 split in the Senate – and some Republican resistance – means Biden must get his entire party involved if he hopes to pass the spending bill.
Two moderate Democrats, Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, appeared to signal some support for the bill Thursday in separate statements.
“After months of productive and good faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress,” Sinema said. “Can’t wait to get this done.”
It is believed that both Ms Sinema and Mr. Manchin have ditched the original bill by refusing to vote for it.
For Mr. Biden personally, a lot depends on the fate of these two bills: his presidential legacy.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens next week,” he told Democrats Thursday morning, according to US media.
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