Thursday, December 2, 2021

House prepares for debate, vote after supporting Biden’s bill

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House of Representatives prepares to deliberate and vote on President Joe Biden’s revised $ 1.85 trillion domestic policy package and continues to grow, as well as the accompanying $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, and Democrats are looking to show to voters that they can fulfill the priorities.

With a spate of recent adjustments, Democrats have added key provisions to what has grown to a massive 2,135-page package, adding a new paid family leave program, work permits for immigrants, and changes to state and local tax deductions.

Both the total price and the revenue are expected to rise for this. According to a summary obtained by the Associated Press, a new White House estimate on Thursday said revenues from corporate taxes, the rich and other changes are estimated to bring in $ 2.1 trillion over 10 years. That’s more than the previously estimated $ 1.9 trillion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted a similar assessment on Thursday by the bipartisan Joint Tax Committee.

“This is really a lot of money,” Pelosi said, echoing Biden’s frequent remark.

A vote is possible on Thursday, as Democrats seek to finalize the signing of the presidential package after protracted negotiations on Capitol Hill were partially blamed for the party’s dismal election results in leading states this week.

“It was a bad night,” Pelosi admitted. “Getting the job done, getting results for the American people is always very positive.”

WATCH: Speaker Pelosi said Tuesday’s election “was not a good night”

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that a House vote is possible on both Biden’s big bill on social services and climate change programs, and a thinner bipartisan infrastructure package that has stalled in discussions. However, the vote could last until Friday or even the weekend, he and others said.

After months of negotiations, Democrats are desperately trying to implement Biden’s proposals following dismal election results for the party in Virginia, a warning that their power may be in jeopardy over the medium term next year.

Many voters in Virginia said the protracted negotiations in Washington over Biden’s agenda were an important factor in their vote, so the blame lay on Capitol Hill, where Democrats argued for months over the details of the package.

“Bring this to my table!” Biden pleaded in his speech Wednesday at the White House.

Democrats are working hard to postpone their differences, particularly with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, and are voting on Biden’s big bill and related infrastructure package, which has stalled.

The new family leave provision is expected to include four weeks of paid leave for childbirth, recovery from serious illness, or caring for family members, less than the 12-week program envisioned, but all of this will be paid for in full with income from others. sources.

Biden reluctantly turned down a reduced paid leave offer from the White House structure last week after Manchin turned it down. But Democrats, who have lobbied that paid leave has been a party’s priority for decades, have continued to push for it.

Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said it was “a policy that will finally give workers and their families peace of mind” in the face of hardship.

On another unresolved issue, Democrats compromised to partially lift 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 tax era. Trump 2017. plan.

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While the elimination of the so-called SALT deduction cap is a priority for legislators in several northeastern states, advocates of progress wanted to prevent the super-rich from benefiting. According to the plan, the $ 10,000 deduction limit will be increased to $ 72,500 for 10 years starting in tax year 2021.

And the newly added immigration provision will create a new program for the roughly 7 million immigrants who are in the country without legal status, allowing them to apply for work and travel permits in the United States within five years. It will also allow the government to use unused visas to allow people to enter the United States.

Resolving the immigration problem was one of the last challenges on the road to completing the Biden package project. Biden has pledged $ 100 billion to fund immigration changes, raising the total package from $ 1.75 trillion to at least $ 1.85 trillion – although that could fall if the Senate passes the position. Lawmakers plan to present their arguments to a Senate MP in the coming days, hoping the changes will be in line with Senate rules, stakeholders said.

“We must have something for our immigrants,” said Rep. Judy Chu, California.

The changes increase not only the cost of the package, but also the income. The deal, reached earlier this week, to allow Medicare to negotiate price cuts for prescription drugs for seniors, is among the amendments to help offset the bottom line.

Both paid family leave and changes in immigration law have met with opposition from Manchin, whose support remains decisive in the 50-50 Senate, where Biden has no extra votes. The bill meets with unified opposition from the Republicans.

Manchin wants Democrats to spend more time negotiating and has criticized the paid vacation announcement.

Pelosi’s strategy now seems to be aimed at passing the most reliable bill in her house, and then giving the Senate the opportunity to correct or delete those parts that its members do not agree to.

Biden’s 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 its costs will come from higher taxes for people making more than $ 10 million a year and large corporations, which will now face a 15% minimum tax in an effort to prevent large businesses from claiming so many deductions that they end up pay zero taxes.

The deal, announced earlier this week, adds another important provision – limiting Medicare Part D out-of-pocket spending for older Americans to $ 2,000 and lowering the price of insulin to no more than $ 35 per dose.

The House Rules Committee met late Wednesday for a hearing that lasted after midnight to review the updated text – a decisive step ahead of a lengthy debate in the room that could start Thursday and escalate into Friday.

Some moderate Democrats in the House have said they want to see a financial estimate of Biden’s overall package from the Congressional Budget Office before the vote.

Associated Press writers Kevin Fracking, Alan Fram, and Colleen Long contributed to this report.

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