US President Joe Biden unveiled a renewed spending plan of $ 1.75 trillion (£ 1.27 trillion) on Thursday, calling it a historic investment in the country’s future.
“Nobody got everything they wanted, including me,” he said, acknowledging his party’s struggle to reach consensus on a pair of landmark laws.
Narrow margins in Congress require almost unanimous support from Democrats for bills to be passed.
These include large investments in infrastructure, climate and childcare.
The White House said the plan had the backing of all 50 Democrats in the evenly split Senate and expressed confidence that it could also pass through the House. But it remains to be seen whether Biden has actually achieved the level of cooperation within his party that is necessary to move the spending plan forward.
The administration hoped to come to an agreement before Biden’s trip to Europe on Thursday. President Biden will travel to Rome, the Vatican and later to Glasgow, Scotland for the UN Climate Change Conference COP26.
This new proposal is believed to be a simplified version of the approximately $ 3.5 trillion social spending plan favored by progressives.
Biden was expected to use his Thursday morning meeting with House Democrats to convince progressives in the party that this new version was close enough to the original law, and to convince House of Representatives progressives to pass a separate billion-dollar infrastructure bill that passed already in the Senate.
This is a delicate balance for Mr Biden, who tries to appeal to his party’s progressives – who say they need action on the Social Welfare Act before handing over the infrastructure – and some moderate ones for whom the Infrastructure Act is a priority. Others were concerned about the cost of the original Social Spending Act.
What is included in the proposed new spending plan?
$ 555 billion to fight climate change, mainly through tax breaks on renewable and low-carbon energy
$ 400 billion for a free and universal kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds
$ 165 billion to cut health care premiums for nine million Americans under the Affordable Act – also known as Obamacare
$ 150 billion to build one million affordable housing
Speaking on Thursday, Biden said the US was in danger of “losing our advantage as a nation.”
“Somewhere along the way, we stopped investing in ourselves and our people,” he said. “We cannot be competitive in the global economy of the 21st century if we continue with this slide.”
What was missed?
Mr. Biden’s capped spending plan on Thursday misses some of the big promises in the original bill.
Paid family leave has been removed altogether – a blow to progressives and US voters who hoped the US would join most other countries in providing paid leave for new parents. The United States is one of just eight countries without national paid maternity leave.
The plan to cut the price of prescription drugs has also been truncated.
The AARP, the country’s largest interest group focusing on older Americans, issued a statement after Mr. Biden announced that it was “outraged” that the new framework was not lowering drug prices.
How will Biden pay for it?
The president argued on Thursday that his spending plan was “fiscally responsible and fully paid” and that he would not increase the deficit.
Here’s what she proposes:
The plan promises to offset the cost of $ 1.75 trillion with estimated $ 2 trillion in revenue growth
A minimum tax of 15% on reported profits of large companies
Additional 5% tax on income over $ 10 million annually and another 3% tax on income over $ 25 million
Increased law enforcement for big corporations and the rich to curb tax evasion
A 50-50 seat split in the Senate – and Republican resistance – means Biden must get his entire party involved if he hopes to pass a spending bill. Mr. Biden will know in the coming days if he has these numbers.
Two moderate Democrats, Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia apparently signaled some support for the bill in separate statements on Thursday.
“After months of fruitful and good faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress,” Sinema said. “I can’t wait to do this.”
Both Ms Sinema and Mr Manchin are widely seen to have tanked the original bill by refusing to vote for it.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is expected to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill – already passed in the Senate – as early as Thursday. To get there, she’ll need progressives to agree to it.
The head of the House Progressive Caucus, Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal said the president made a “compelling speech” but said she’d have to wait and see where the progressives stood.
Ms Jayapal has repeatedly insisted that the infrastructure bill and the social spending bill be passed in tandem.
For Mr Biden personally, a lot is riding on the fate of these two bills: his presidential legacy.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” he told Democrats on Thursday morning, according to US media.