Washington — The House delayed its planned vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill late Thursday night, while negotiations continued over another measure — a larger social safety net — but failed to result in an agreement.
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the Capitol in the early hours of Friday morning, she continued to say there would be a vote “today.” According to her, moderates and progressives are not trillions indistinguishable when it comes to the costs of social safety net spending. “
The House had intended to take up the $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure Thursday, but a majority of progressives threatened to vote against the legislation without a deal on the larger $3.5 trillion package, and they may have enough votes in the narrowly divided House to tank the bill. Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (also known as the infrastructure bill) would be the largest investment the country has made in roads, bridges and ports for decades. It also includes funds to modernize infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations or broadband.
The more expensive bill, named the Build Back Better Act, would address climate change and shore up the economic safety net by providing Americans with two years of free community college, child care assistance, Medicare expansion and lower prescription drug prices, among other provisions.
The Build Back Better Act must have the support of every single Democrat in the evenly divided Senate in order to win passage. It currently does not. Democratic senators Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Kyrsten Szenma disagree with the high cost. The two senators met with White House officials in the evening, but could not reach an agreement.
Earlier in the day, Manchin revealed that he would support up to $1.5 trillion in the larger bill, a figure that is much lower than the $3.5 trillion Democratic leaders and President Biden seek. Manchin stated that his position had not changed at the end.
It’s not a new number for Manchin — he gave the $1.5 trillion figure to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a memo in a July, as first reported by Politico.
“The $1.5 (trillion) was always done from my heart, of basically what we could do and not jeopardize our economy,” Manchin told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday.
In his memo, Manchin included suggestions on spending and revenue that he could support, including raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25%, which is lower than the 26.5% in the Build Back Better Act. His pitch for the individual income tax rate for the highest earners matches that of the more expensive proposal: 39.6%.
Manchin also told reporters Thursday that means testing and work requirements must be added to any new spending programs. He resisted climate change provisions that could harm his constituents in West Virginia, who rely heavily on fossil fuels to support their lives. Manchin sent Schumer a letter stating that if the bill extends tax credit for solar or wind energy it should do so without repealing existing fossil fuel credits.
The social spending plan, a key piece of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda, relies on a budgetary process known as reconciliation. That means that 50 votes — plus the vice president’s tie-breaking vote — will get the bill passed, rather than the 60 usually required in the Senate.
John LaBombard, Sinema’s spokesperson, said in a statement that Sinema informed Mr. Biden and Schumer of her priorities and concerns, including a dollar amount, in August.
“Like our bipartisan infrastructure bill, the proposed budget reconciliation package reflects a proposal of President Biden’s — and President Biden and his team, along with Senator Schumer and his team, are fully aware of Senator Sinema’s priorities, concerns, and ideas,” LaBombard said in a statement. LaBombard stated that he is continuing to engage in talks with Schumer, Mr. Biden and “to find common ground.” “
Manchin, who called for a “strategic pause” on the massive social spending proposal this summer, reiterated Thursday that he still thinks that’s the best approach, and he suggested it’s unlikely that he’ll come around to the progressives’ perspective.
“I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form,” Manchin said. Manchin stated, “There is no one who has ever believed that I am. “I’ve served as governor and secretary of state. I was also in the state legislature. I am a U.S. Senator, and have been voting consistently my entire life. They may believe they are more progressive or more liberal than I do. God bless them. They just need more people to vote for their party. However, they don’t have to make any changes. I am willing to go from $0 to $1.5 [trillion].”
— CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe, Weijia Jiang and Zachary Hudak contributed to this report.
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