U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to reporters as he leaves the U.S. Capitol following a Senate vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, on June 10, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
President Joe Biden was due to meet with Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday to convince the skeptical Democrats to support his sprawling $ 3.5 trillion economic plan.
The president spoke to Sinema, who represents Arizona, at the White House that morning. He was expected to meet with Manchin, a West Virginia lawmaker, later that day.
Both centrists have criticized the proposed $ 3.5 trillion price, and Manchin has urged party leaders to postpone votes on the bill.
The meetings come at a crucial point in an agenda that Democrats hope will provide a lifeline to the budget and hinder Republicans’ efforts to gain control of Congress next year. Party leaders gave congressional committees Wednesday to draft their parts of the bill, and they hope to have it sent to Biden’s desk in the coming weeks.
Democrats must navigate a political maze before they can make what they call what they call the largest social safety net investment in decades. While the party doesn’t need a GOP vote to pass the bill through budget balancing, a single Democratic trash in the Senate can sink it, giving Manchin and Sinema massive leverage in shaping the plan.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, can only lose three votes in her caucus and pass the law. It must balance the often competing interests of centrists who watch $ 3.5 trillion in spending and progressives who view the sum as a minimum investment.
The success of the plan is at stake for Biden, whose approval ratings have plummeted amid a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a coronavirus resurgence fueled by the Delta variant. The president has portrayed his economic plan as a shock to the working class and an overdue effort to curb climate change.
“Yes, we are facing a crisis, but we are facing a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create good jobs of the future, create industries of the future, win the future, save the planet,” he said in Colorado on Tuesday .
The bill aims to expand childcare and paid vacation, create a universal pre-K, make community college free, and increase public health care. It would also encourage the introduction of green energy and the construction of energy efficient, weather-resistant infrastructure through tax credits and other incentives.
To pay for the legislation, the Democrats plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals. A framework proposed in the House of Representatives proposed a top corporate tax rate of 26.5%, a top individual tax rate of 39.6%, and a 3% surcharge on personal income over $ 5 million.
Comments from Manchin and Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., In recent days have underscored the ideological divide that Democrats will need to bridge to pass the plan. Manchin reportedly favors a bill that costs up to $ 1.5 trillion.
Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said Sunday that the price was “absolutely unacceptable” to me or Biden.
When asked how Sanders insisted the bill will be $ 3.5 trillion, Manchin told reporters Tuesday, “God bless him, all I can say is.”
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