Joe Biden delayed his flight to visit Pope Frances at the Vatican to meet with Congressional leadership on Thursday morning over the fate of his “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation spending bill. Originally planned to have a price tag of $3.5 trillion over ten years, the modified plan is pared down to $1.75 trillion, with the details of the contents of the bill still left to be settled as drafting of the revised plan begins.
Biden has struggled in recent weeks to thread the needle with competing factions within the Democratic Party, as he had very little room in the House for any lost votes and no room at all in the Senate to lose even a single vote.
His most challenging mission in the Senate has been working with moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Both Manchin and Sinema objected to different parts of the bill’s spending programs, and Sinema has repeatedly said she would not support any new taxes in the plan.
Manchin has also said that he refuses to support new reporting requirements that would require financial institutions to make reports to the IRS regarding accounts with at least $10,000 in outflows during any annual period.
As part of the deal Biden announced Thursday morning, he had to give up provisions for paid medical and family leave as well as the tuition-free community college. He said that “no one got everything they wanted, including me.”
Biden’s announced plan included universal preschool for three and four-year-olds, as well as tax credits to encourage the use of electric vehicles and solar panels. The proposal also includes increased taxes on the “wealthiest Americans.”
It was reported that Manchin and Sinema had “loosely” agreed to Biden’s general framework, although neither has disclosed any firm commitments.
Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus appear ready to back the president’s spending plan as modified. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is the caucus chairwoman and said that the group supports the proposal, stating that “everyone in the room” endorsed the resolution enthusiastically.
However, Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Steve Cohen (D-TN), the caucus members, expressed concern about the bill’s programs that had to be reportedly cut.
Another hurdle for the White House is getting a House vote on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Progressives are reported to intend to continue blocking a vote on that bill unless there is an agreeable reconciliation bill presented for a House vote first.