On Wednesday, President Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill to urge Senate Democrats to support a $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" package. Biden encouraged legislators to rally behind the plan and "get this done" for the American people during a lunch gathering of the entire Senate Democratic Conference.
The visit comes only one day after Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee agreed to a rough framework for an agreement. The group will be in charge of guiding the measure through the budget reconciliation process.
Joe Biden remains optimistic about the infrastructure package
Because the GOP's support for the specifics seems doubtful given the subject matter, reconciliation, which permits spending bills to avoid the Senate's 60-vote barrier that most legislation must clear and instead pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, is the only alternative. Democrats claimed the $3.5 trillion budget agreement will be added to the roughly $600 billion in additional infrastructure projects included in a bipartisan infrastructure package, CNBC reported.
Senate leaders claim that the budget proposal is completely paid for, a characteristic that might convince moderate Democrats concerned about government spending and growing debt levels, particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic's trillions spent. The budget would also extend Medicare coverage for dental, vision, and hearing treatments, which progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders have advocated for.
Three key areas will provide offsets to the huge topline price tag: health savings, tax reform, and long-term economic development. According to the aid, the budget will prevent tax hikes for family farms, small companies, and families earning less than $400,000 per year.
Joe Manchin remained uncommitted
Despite the difficult struggle ahead, Biden maintained a positive outlook. He has to keep all of his Democratic senators on board, including moderate Senator Joe Manchin, who has expressed reservations about the $3.5 trillion plan's cost, and progressives, who want to see even more spending added. Given the overwhelming Republican opposition, the president requires the support of all 50 Democratic senators in the evenly divided Senate.
However, not all Democratic senators were convinced after the conference. Many others stated they needed more time to examine the proposal's details and figure out how it would be paid for. Even after a nearly hour-long luncheon when Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Bernie Sanders explained the idea and Biden made his sales pitch, Manchin remained uncommitted on the spending package, as per Daily Mail.
Biden was greeted warmly by Democratic senators, many of whom have previously served with him in the Senate. Several times, applause could be heard behind closed doors, where the Democrats were starting their campaign. Senators felt Biden made a compelling argument for why his approach would benefit American families.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced the agreement for a budget reconciliation plan that would support what Biden has referred to as "human infrastructure" after a lengthy discussion among Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. When you add in the $600 billion in additional spending proposed by Biden in a separate bipartisan infrastructure package, the total new expenditure amounts to about $4.1 trillion, according to Schumer, which is close to Biden's complete infrastructure and family objectives.
Per USA Today, expanded caring for the handicapped and elderly, free community college, universal prekindergarten, subsidized child care, national paid family leave, and child tax credits are among the proposals. There are also several environmental measures, including a new clean energy standard that requires power firms to progressively reduce carbon monoxide emissions and subsidies for sustainable energy sources like wind and solar.
Democrats also included a plan to extend Medicare, including dental, vision, and hearing coverage, according to Schumer, which has long been a war cry for progressives. Biden will meet with Senate Democrats on Wednesday at the Capitol to discuss the deal.