Politics Biden sets off high-stakes scramble over spending framework
Number of joint Biden-Harris appearances plummets: Report
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appeared together publicly 18 times in February after rising to the White House on a promise to be a partnership. But in October they only had one joint press event.When Biden picked Harris to be the first female and woman of color to be vice president he strongly indicated she would be an equal partner in his administration.
Democrats are scrambling to fill in the details of their social and climate spending plan, after President Biden's proposal for a scaled-back bill lit a fire under lawmakers who want to see their personal priorities included.
The White House had hoped to unify the party by unveiling a new framework for the $1.75 trillion bill, bridging divisions between progressives and moderates and unlocking the stalled-out bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate months ago.
Instead, Biden set off a high-stakes lobbying effort to try to make changes to the eventual bill, with Democratic leadership urging members to move quickly if they want something added or removed.
Obama calls Biden's $1.75T framework 'a giant leap forward'
Former President Obama on Thursday embraced the scaled-down framework for Democrats' social spending package released by the Biden administration, calling it a "giant leap forward" even as some progressives express concern about what was left out."In a country as large and diverse as ours, progress can often feel frustrating and slow, with small victories accompanied by frequent setbacks. But once in a while, it's still possible to take a"In a country as large and diverse as ours, progress can often feel frustrating and slow, with small victories accompanied by frequent setbacks. But once in a while, it's still possible to take a giant leap forward," Obama said in a statement on President Biden's $1.
"The text is there for you to review, for you to complain about, for you to add to, for you to subtract from, whatever it is. And we'll see what consensus emerges from that," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters.
Pelosi added in a letter to her caucus that "your feedback is welcome and necessary, soon" to help get a bill ready for the House floor.
Though Biden and the White House officials spoke to congressional Democrats several times about the framework, lawmakers quickly signaled that they did not view the outline revealed Thursday as final and are actively seeking to make changes.
"What I would say is you have the outline of a very significant piece of legislation. I want us to make it better," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "I will make that effort, along with others."
Overnight Health Care — Drug pricing out of Biden framework, at least for the moment
Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care, where we're following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.Out of the 455 new words and meanings that Merriam-Webster added to its dictionary, several were popularized during the pandemic, including "long COVID," "breakthrough" and "vaccine passport."President Biden's social spending framework is outand it doesn't include drugOut of the 455 new words and meanings that Merriam-Webster added to its dictionary, several were popularized during the pandemic, including "long COVID," "breakthrough" and "vaccine passport.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore) added that he was still in active discussions with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), two key moderate votes.
"Folks, this isn't done until the Senate acts," Wyden said.
When Democrats can come to an agreement on what will be in the spending bill impacts the timing of the House vote on the infrastructure bill. Progressives are pushing for an understanding, potentially including bill text, with Senate moderates, who they worry could otherwise overhaul the White House's package.
Manchin and Sinema both sounded positive about the negotiations, but neither have publicly said they support the framework. And they are both at the center of intense lobbying efforts from their colleagues, who want them to back adding additional priorities.
Sinema and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) met this week amid the distrust between House liberals and Senate moderates. And Sinema was spotted chatting with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has been deeply involved in drug pricing negotiations.
On The Money — Progressives firm as Biden rushes for deal
Happy Thursday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.Today's Big Deal: President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) push to quickly finish off the infrastructure package didn't hold up. We'll also look at the new framework for the Democrats' sweeping climate and social services bill.But first, Olivia Rodrigo'sToday's Big Deal: President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) push to quickly finish off the infrastructure package didn't hold up. We'll also look at the new framework for the Democrats' sweeping climate and social services bill.
Several Senate Democrats were seen trying to work Manchin during the Senate's final vote series after the framework was released, including Wyden, Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper (Del.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).
Wyden, who has broad oversight into how the bill will be paid for, noted that he was still discussing tax fairness with Manchin. Democratic lawmakers are also trying to get big progressive priorities, many of which were dropped, back into the bill.
"There are still some kinks to work out between the framework and the bill language, and so I think the committees who have jurisdiction over the main pieces are going to be working on that," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Democrats in both chambers are engaged in a flurry of negotiations to try to get the ability for Medicare to negotiate drug pricing into the spending bill. The House version of the legislation included a broad plan, but that faced pushback from moderates. Even a narrower proposal from Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), has run into roadblocks.
What's in and out of the Biden spending framework
President Joe Biden has unveiled a framework for legislation he hoped would unite the Democratic Party — but which quickly became snarled in the same intraparty fights that have held Democrats back from passing a spending plan for months. © Provided by Washington Examiner Biden on Thursday touted the proposal as a “historic economic framework” behind which he was confident the centrist and progressive wings of his party would line up before he left for Europe later in the day.
"There are active talks. ...There are just a few members, we just need to get a few votes," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said during a press call. "We think we are making significant progress."
Supporters of getting drug pricing into the spending bill have powerful allies in their corner. Sanders has pointed to the plan as a must-have, and Pelosi is working to try to get it into the framework and eventual bill.
The potential deal would allow Medicare to only negotiate prices for older drugs that are no longer on their period of "exclusivity," when they are protected from competition. Welch added that Democrats were no longer considering placing an up to 95 percent excise tax on companies that did not negotiate a price with Medicare as an enforcement mechanism, though a senior Democratic aide pushed back saying it's still considered.
Sanders also indicated that he was going to try to get a Medicare expansion to cover vision and dental back into the bill. The framework only expanded Medicare to cover hearing.
Democrats had been discussing using either a voucher or a debit card to cover dental, with the idea that it would be used as a transition to a long-term program. There was a debate among Democrats about whether or not to green light the long-term program as part of the spending bill, but the expansion was dropped from the framework altogether.
Biden pitches 'historic' spending plan to transform America
US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a "historic" blueprint for remaking America's economy, as he sought to pressure dissenters within his own Democratic Party to back the plan after months of tortuous negotiations. Biden is banking his legacy on passing the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social welfare package, a compact with the American people for a more equitable and greener society and the jewel in the crown of his domestic agenda.
"While I'm glad to see that hearing aids were part of the expansion of Medicare, vision and dental are not, and that concerns me," Sanders said.
Progressives have also launched a furious effort to get paid leave into the bill as they face entrenched opposition from Manchin. Democrats had hoped to get 12 weeks of paid leave into the spending legislation, before scaling it down to four and then dropping it from the framework altogether.
COVID-19, corporate taxes, Iran nuclear deal on Biden's agenda for Day One of G-20 summit
The G-20 summit that opened Saturday in Rome will mark the first time in two years that some of the world's most powerful leaders have met in person.Biden arrived at the modernist, cloud-shaped convention center in Rome where the Group of 20, or G-20, is meeting and was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A few minutes later, he joined other leaders for a traditional "family photo.
But Gillibrand is still trying to work Manchin, who has raised concerns about costs and questioned if the policy should be done under the arcane budget process, known as reconciliation, that Democrats are using to bypass a GOP filibuster for the spending bill.
Gillibrand was overheard trying to lobby Manchin on the floor after paid leave was left out of the framework, and said that she gave him more information about how other countries cover the costs of paid leave.
"Until the deal is actually signed, and we actually vote on it, people are continuing conversations. ...I'm gonna keep working on paid leave regardless of where we are in the framework and regardless of where the framework ends up," he said.
Beyond negotiations among Democrats, they also need to get their immigration plan cleared by the Senate parliamentarian. Because Democrats are using reconciliation, any proposal has to be approved by the Senate referee.
The framework included $100 billion to reduce immigration backlogs, expand legal representation and improve the asylum and border processing system.
And revised bill text from the House effectively had placeholder language as Democrats try to figure out what policies can pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has twice rejected efforts by Democrats to use the spending bill to grant legal permanent residents status to millions of immigrants.
Democrats are pitching the parliamentarian on a third option to provide work authorization and protection from deportation to some undocumented immigrants.
"We are gathering the information for the budget impact with the Congressional Budget Office. And that is, like the first thing that needs to be presented to the parliamentarian, and we're gonna discuss possibilities that might follow from that," Durbin said.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) added that including immigration reform was an "essential element" of any spending deal.
"We can't build back better when we have millions of people undocumented," Menendez said. "So I look forward to continuing to find a way forward to be part of the package."
-Peter Sullivan contributed.
Progressives fear compromise could jeopardize midterm hopes .
Progressives are fretting over the pared-back framework of Democrats’ massive social policy and climate bill, warning that it won’t be enough to motivate the party’s liberal base ahead of the 2022 midterms. © Greg Nash Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gives an opening statement during a hearing to discuss President Biden's budget request for FY 2022 on Tuesday, June 8, 2020 . Still smarting from seeing the package whittled down from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion to $1.