President Joe Biden speaks Thursday while Vice President Kamala Harris listens about his infrastructure bills and compromises on the budget in the East Room of the White House. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Before taking off for Europe on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a "framework" agreement in Congress for his multitrillion-dollar spending package that includes added funding for things like Medicare and climate change measures.
Biden announced the deal as he visited the Capitol on Thursday to meet with Democratic lawmakers about the new details for the Build Back Better Act, which has been pared down due to concerns about its size from moderate members of the party.
After visiting the Capitol, Biden returned to the White House to further explain the agreement and outline a path forward.
"I'm pleased to announce that after months of thoughtful negotiations we have an historic economic framework," Biden said. "It's a framework that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people.
"It's fiscally responsible. It's fully paid for. Seventeen Nobel Prize winners in economics have said it will lower the inflationary pressures on the economy."
The White House said the $1.75 trillion framework includes universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and affordable child care and healthcare for older Americans. It also would extend the Child Tax Credit by a year for families making less than $150,000 per year.
It provides tax credits to assist some 4 million low-income Americans pay for health insurance.
On climate change, it extends $320 billion worth of tax credits for clean energy manufacturing and green vehicles for 10 years, offers incentives for addressing extreme weather events and pollution, incentivizes creation of new domestic supply chains and technologies like solar, batteries and advanced materials and urges the government to buy "next gen" technologies, including long-duration storage and clean construction materials.
"For too long, the economy has worked great for those at the top, while working families continually get squeezed," the White House said in a statement.
"President Biden promised to rebuild the backbone of the country -- the middle class -- so that this time everyone comes along."
The package also includes about $100 billion to clear a backlog of immigration cases.
The spending would be funded through a 15% minimum corporate tax rate and other new tax policies.
In negotiations, Biden dropped his original plan to implement a new income tax for some 700 billionaires. Instead, there's a proposed 5% tax rate for those making more than $10 million and an additional 3% tax for those who make more than $25 million.
With the social spending package now worth just slightly more than originally proposed, many elements had to be scrapped, including paid family and sick leave, meaning about 102 million Americans won't have access to either.
"The consequences of the loss of this policy at the federal level will disproportionately fall on low-wage workers and women of color who are least likely to have any time off at all," Sherry Leiwant, co-founder of A Better Balance, told CNN.
Aside from the Build Back Better Act, which was initially proposed with $3.5 trillion in spending, Biden is pushing for the House to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that's languished for weeks after passing the Senate.
Some progressive Democrats have threatened to vote against the infrastructure bill as leverage for the spending bill, and moderate Democrats such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin have forced the compromise by balking at the price tag of the spending plan.
Progressive Caucus chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told CNN that House progressives plan to vote against the infrastructure bill if it's not voted on along with the social spending bill.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Biden is confident that his new framework will draw the support of every Democrat in Congress.
It wasn't clear early Thursday, however, whether two particular holdouts, Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, were part of the new spending proposal. Sinema didn't say whether she plans to vote for the deal but offered praise for it.
"After months of productive, good-faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package," she said. "I look forward to getting this done, expanding economic opportunities and helping everyday families get ahead."
Biden is hopeful that Thursday's discussions and a new spending framework would be enough for him to set off for Europe with a couple of key legislative victories.
The president heads for Italy on Thursday afternoon, where he will meet with Pope Francis on Friday before attending the G20 summit on Saturday and Sunday. Biden will then travel to Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26.
ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods opens with remarks before a hearing
on "Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oils Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action" at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo