By HOPE YEN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – Due to the deadline, President Joe Biden brought two key senators to his Delaware home on Sunday for talks aimed at resolving disputes that have hampered Democrats’ broad social safety net and environmental measure at the heart of its national program.
Beyond the national calendar, Biden is pushing for progress so he can spotlight his administration’s accomplishments to world leaders at the overseas summits taking place this week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said she expected agreement on a framework by the end of the week, paving the way for a House vote on a draft A separate bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure law before next Sunday, when a series of transportation programs will expire.
“That’s the plan,” she said.
The White House said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., came to Biden’s home in Wilmington, where he was spending the weekend, for the session, but did not immediately make a statement. detailing what was discussed.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, two of their party’s most moderate members, insisted on downsizing the huge package and pushed for more changes.
Pelosi said she was waiting for the Senate to conclude talks and for a plan to be presented as early as Monday. Top Democrats scramble for a framework to pass the infrastructure bill, which House progressives have used as leverage to force agreement on a broader set of healthcare initiatives , education and environment.
“I think we’re pretty much there,” Pelosi said, stressing that a few “final decisions” need to be made. “It’s less than what was originally planned, but it’s still bigger than anything we’ve ever done to meet the needs of working American families.”
Democrats originally predicted the measure would contain $ 3.5 trillion in spending and tax initiatives over 10 years. But demands from the moderates led by Manchin and Sinema to contain the costs mean that its final price may well be less than $ 2 trillion.
Disputes remain as to whether certain priorities should be removed or excluded. These include plans to expand Medicare coverage, child care assistance, and assistance to low-income students. Manchin, whose state has a large coal industry, opposed proposals to penalize utilities that fail to switch quickly to clean energy.
Pelosi said Democrats are still working to maintain arrangements for four weeks of paid family leave, but acknowledged that other proposals such as extending Medicare to include dental coverage may prove to be more difficult to save because of the costs. “Dental will take a little longer to implement,” she said.
A clean energy proposal that was also at the heart of Biden’s strategy to tackle climate change is also expected to be scaled back. Biden has set a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. But Manchin has made it clear he opposes the original energy proposal. clean, which involved forcing the government to impose penalties on electric utilities that fail to meet clean energy standards. and offer financial rewards to those who do.
Democrats were hoping Biden could cite major accomplishments when he attends a global climate change conference in Scotland in early November after attending the World Leaders Summit in Rome.
Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who speaks with Democrats, said the expected cuts to clean energy provisions in the spending bill were particularly disappointing because “they weaken the hands of Joe Biden in Glasgow “.
“If we want the rest of the world to take serious action to address this problem, we have to do it ourselves,” he said.
Pelosi insisted Democrats pieced together other policies in the spending bill that could cut emissions. “We will have something that meets the president’s goals,” she said.
The White House and congressional leaders tried to push months-long negotiations to a conclusion by the end of October. The Democrats’ goal is to produce a snapshot by then that would specify the overall size of the measure and outline the political goals that leaders as well as progressives and moderates would approve.
The far-reaching measure carries many of Biden’s top national priorities. Party leaders want to end internal battles, avoid the risk of failure of the effort, and focus voters’ attention on the plan’s popular agendas to help families with childcare, health costs and d ‘other problems.
Democrats also want to make progress that could help Democrat Terry McAuliffe win the November 2 election neck-to-neck in Virginia.
The hope is that an agreement between the two factions of the party would create enough confidence to allow Democrats to finally push through the House the separate $ 1,000 billion package of highway and broadband projects.
This bipartisan measure was approved over the summer by the Senate. But he stalled after House progressives withdrew their support over disagreements over the larger spending bill, which forced Congress to miss an initial deadline in late September and rush to approve bills. interim funds for outdated transportation programs. Pelosi then set a target on Oct. 31 for passage of the infrastructure bill, although lawmakers have already exceeded last Friday’s target set by Democratic leaders to reach agreement on all spending. .
With Republicans totally opposed to Biden’s spending plans, the president needs all Democrats in the 50-50 split Senate for passage and can only spare a few votes in the House.
Representative Ro Khanna, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said his caucus will not budge to support the infrastructure bill until October 31 if there is no agreement on the larger package, which would be adopted under the so-called budget reconciliation rules. .
“The president needs the reconciliation deal to get to Glasgow,” said Khanna, D-Calif. “This is what will deal with climate change, this is what will meet its 50% reduction targets by 2030. I have no doubts that we will have an agreement.”
Pelosi spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” King appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Khanna on “Fox News Sunday.”
PA congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro and Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.
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