Biden meets progressives and centrists on spending plan

President Joe Biden is spending Tuesday holding a series of talks with different factions in his party in an attempt to bring his vast spending plan closer to the finish line.

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  • President Joe Biden spends Tuesday holding a series of talks with different factions in his party in an attempt to bring his sweeping spending plan closer to the finish line
  • The president scheduled a meeting with progressives, followed by a meeting with moderate Democrats
  • Biden’s budget package aims to expand social services such as health and childcare while tackling climate crisis
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Has set a deadline of October 31 for passage of the budget reconciliation bill, as well as the $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan already approved by the Senate

The president has scheduled a meeting with progressives, who are trying to scavenge as much as possible a package that has already been cut in price by almost half from the $ 3.5 trillion it once was.

This meeting was to be followed by a meeting between Biden and moderate Democrats who were largely uncomfortable with the original size and scope of Biden’s budget, which was aimed at expanding social services such as health and welfare. childcare while dealing with the climate crisis.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the goal for Tuesday was not to hit a top number on the package, but simply to “make progress.”

Meaning. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona were noticeably excluded from the next meeting. But Psaki said Biden met with the two senators on Tuesday morning.

Asked about Biden’s strategy of meeting the groups separately, Psaki said the president based his approach on “five decades of Washington.”

“These are serious political discussions, often over essential details, and they are not duels between factions of the party,” she said. “There is broad agreement, in fact, on the vast majority of the issues here. “

She added that some lawmakers were also discussing the package on their own outside the White House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Has set a deadline of October 31 for passage of the budget reconciliation bill, as well as the $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan already approved by the Senate.

Psaki said Halloween was not necessarily the White House deadline, but noted that federal surface transport workers risked being put on leave if talks dragged on into November.

She, however, said Biden was indeed keen to reach agreement on the spending bill.

“He spends virtually every minute of his day meeting with members of Congress (Tuesday), and I think that reflects how urgent he feels to get things done, find an agreed upon path, and move forward towards delivery to United States. people are.

Progressives walked out of Tuesday’s White House meeting saying they were determined to reach a deal this week.

Democrats came out of a caucus meeting with renewed optimism about the possibility of reaching a deal, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and other party leaders saying they hoped to have a “framework” on a deal by the end of the week.

“The pace has picked up,” Schumer told reporters after the meeting. “The desire to do it is strong. There was universal agreement in the room, we have to come to an agreement.”

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono echoed Schumer’s sentiments, saying “there is a willingness to create a framework for a deal” in the coming weeks, as did Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who added that the party “come to a consensus that we need to resolve our differences by the end of the week.”

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow acknowledged that “it will be a big job” to get it done within this time frame.

Senator Sinema did not attend the meeting, but a spokesperson for the Arizona lawmaker told reporters she “was continuing her direct discussions on the budget reconciliation package in a meeting with senior officials from the White House during the caucus lunch.

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Who was not involved in the progressive White House meeting, meanwhile made it clear that he was losing patience.

“Now is the time to fish or cut the bait,” said Sanders, who is chatting with Democrats. “And I think the vast majority of caucus members want to act, and act quickly. So I think you are going to hear a lot of serious discussion in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Manchin took a different tone, saying “it’s going to take a little while” to come to an agreement on a frame.

A point of contention relates to the provisions aimed at combating climate change. Manchin, who represents a large coal-producing state, opposes the imposition of fines on utilities that fail to meet clean energy standards while rewarding those that do.

In response, a proposal put forward by some lawmakers is to introduce a carbon tax, which would impose fees on companies that burn carbon-based fuels, pushing up gasoline and electricity prices and providing more incentives. consumers to switch to clean energy. .

The idea, however, did not come from Biden, and some fear it could be seen as a tax on people earning less than $ 400,000, which the president has established as a red line he will not cross. . Psaki said on Tuesday that it was possible to create a carbon tax without violating Biden’s pledge, but she did not provide details.

Nonetheless, Manchin said on Tuesday that talks over a carbon tax had not yet been raised in his meetings with the White House. But he might not be the only potential obstacle anyway. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mt., Said: “You might have trouble with me on a carbon tax.”

In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats cannot afford to defect.

Manchin also reportedly wants to cut Biden’s proposal to expand the child tax credit. The US bailout, adopted in March, allowed payments of up to $ 300 per month per child to be sent to families earning up to $ 150,000 per year, but it expires at the end of 2021. Biden wants make the payments permanent, but Manchin told the White House he wants to lower the cap to $ 60,000, Axios reported.

When asked about this possibility, Psaki would simply reply, “There are a lot of proposals out there. I’m not going to talk to all of them.

Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has indicated that he is strongly opposed to lower wages.

“This has been the most effective, quantifiable and provable response to child poverty that we have made in a generation,” he said. “Why would we reduce that? “

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