WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats in the House of Representatives said Wednesday that paid family and medical leave will be added to their $ 1.75 trillion social and environmental bill, reviving a key element of President Joe Biden’s agenda as they rush to complete the package after a dark night. election results.
Biden reluctantly turned down a cut back on paid leave from the White House structure last week after Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., resented the price. But Democrats, who for decades have lobbied for a paid vacation program as a Democratic priority, continued to push for it, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that it would be part of a massive House of Representatives package of measures.
In an email to her fellow Democrats, Pelosi announced that she had included the paid leave law in today’s hearing. The move likely signals that paid time to recover from a serious illness, childbirth, or caring for family members will be back in the budget bill.
It is “a policy that will finally give workers and their families peace of mind knowing that in the event of a disaster, they can count on paid leave to avoid a total crisis,” Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement.
The last-minute addition comes as Democrats desperately try to carry out Biden-signed internal proposals following a dismal Virginia election, where voters cast new Republican Glenn Yangkin as governor over veteran Democrat Terry McAuliffe. This is tantamount to warning Democrats that their power may be in jeopardy in the medium term next year.
A majority of voters in Virginia said protracted negotiations in Washington over Biden’s agenda were an important factor in their vote, so the blame fell on Capitol Hill as Democrats argued for months over the details of the package.
They are now rushing to postpone their differences, especially with dissenting Manchin and Senator Kirsten Cinema of Arizona. The final 1,600-page text of the bill is due out ahead of Wednesday’s hearing and House vote this week.
“We have to produce,” Virginia-based Democratic Senator Tim Caine told reporters at the Capitol. “We have to deliver results for the people.”
In announcing the paid family leave program, Pelosi acknowledged opposition from the only senator, referring to Manchin. Pelosi’s strategy now seems to be aimed at passing the most robust bill in her House, and then giving Manchin, Sinema, or other parties to adjust or exclude parts they disagree with in the Senate.
“We must strive to find common ground in legislation,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues.
Still, the final details of Biden’s big proposal are taking shape.
Along with adding a paid family leave program, Democrats on Tuesday added a plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs for most seniors, caping Medicare out-of-pocket spending at $ 2,000 and lowering the price of insulin.
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Both proposals for paid family leave and reduced prescription drug costs have been long-standing priorities for Democrats, balanced against a backdrop of intraparty controversy.
Manchin wants Democrats to take longer to negotiate and has criticized the paid vacation announcement, suggesting it could be done separately from Biden’s package or in a “bipartisan” way.
Biden needs Democrats in Congress to draft a final bill that can pass both houses, where they have a small majority in the House of Representatives and need every 50-50 Senate vote. The bill meets with solid Republican opposition.
“Adopting such transformative legislation is not easy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday opening the House. But he said, “It’s worth it.”
The $ 1.75 trillion package will help large numbers of Americans pay for health care, education, parenting, and care for the elderly in their homes. It will also provide about $ 555 billion in tax breaks that encourage cleaner energy and electrified vehicles, the country’s largest commitment to fighting climate change.
Most of his expenses will come from higher taxes for people making more than $ 10 million a year and large corporations, which will now face a 15 percent minimum tax in an effort to prevent big businesses from claiming so many deductions that they end up paying. zero taxes.
The deal, made to cut Medicare drug prices, was not as big as Democrats hoped, but a compromise with Sinema, which backs it.
For the first time, Medicare will be able to negotiate the price of prescription drugs under its Part B and Part D programs. …
The new monthly price cap for insulin will bring the price down to no more than $ 35 per dose, and there will be an ‘inflation’ discount policy to protect consumers from blatant annual price increases, ”Schumer said.
AARP, an influential organization for older Americans, has expressed support, awaiting details.
But Stephen J. Uble, president and chief executive officer of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the proposal “gives the government the power to determine how much a drug costs.”
On another issue, Democrats moved closer to agreement on a plan to remove the $ 10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, which especially affects New York, California and other high-tax states, and was adopted as part of the Trump-era tax plan for 2017. year.
While the elimination of the so-called SALT deduction cap is a priority for legislators in several northeastern states, progressive advocates are keen to prevent the super-rich from benefiting.
One daunting problem remains with the changes in immigration law promoted by the core Democratic group in the House of Representatives. They proposed not to vote unless provisions were included to protect against deportation of certain immigrants in the United States without legal status. Manchin opposed many of the proposed immigration changes.
Some moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives have said they want to see a final estimate of Congressional spending on budget spending on Biden’s package ahead of the vote.
Associated Press contributors Kevin Fracking and Alan Fram contributed to this report.