White House holds more budget meetings with Democrats
Top Democrats on Capitol Hill attempted to resolve their disagreements over a multi-billion dollar social safety net and climate package on Thursday, as President Biden and his team predicted another day of negotiations with key lawmakers to find a legislative route to adopt its domestic policy agenda.
Democratic leaders claimed progress towards a deal, announcing they had agreed on a range of possible ways to pay for it. But they didn’t provide any details on which programs would be included or what the total cost would be ultimately, and what they called a “framework agreement” appeared to be modest.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal approved provisions that their respective committees already considered to be appropriate. deal: a top tax rate of 39.6%, which affluent taxpayers faced before President Donald J. Trump reduced it to 37% in 2017; a crackdown on fiscally beneficial conservation easements, often used by the wealthy to reduce taxes on historic properties; and close a loophole, notoriously used by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, that can protect huge investment gains from taxation in an individual retirement account.
They agreed the plan should respond to Mr Biden’s call to raise corporate taxes and capital gains, but have not set rates for those items, according to assistants familiar with the discussions that them. have detailed on condition of anonymity. And they are committed to trying to find common ground on their other priorities, like Mr Wyden’s proposal to tax billionaire wealth gains.
The talks came on a day when Mr Biden and administration officials were due to continue their meetings focused on advancing both a bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill and a wider $ 3.5 trillion domestic policy plan that most Democrats now admit will have to be scaled back to gain passage. .
Party leaders hope to rally around a compromise on the social safety net bill by Monday, when a vote is scheduled on the infrastructure measure. But agreeing on a total cost, which programs to include and which to get rid of, and how to pay for them will involve painful choices for a divided caucus.
Still, Democratic leaders predicted they would ultimately deliver both metrics to Mr. Biden’s office.
“I have no doubts that we will pass both bills,” President Nancy Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
Mr Biden spent much of Wednesday in meetings with Democratic leaders and nearly two dozen lawmakers, listening to the concerns of his party’s rival factions over his two top national priorities.
Moderates are pushing for swift action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate, while progressives have vowed to withhold votes for the measure until approval of the much larger net measure. social security which must include vast new investments in climate, education, health and social programs.
Mr Biden urged moderates who balked at the size of this package to come up with an overall level of spending they could support, as well as the priorities they wanted to see funded, according to senators and aides.
Democrats aim to pass legislation on a party line vote using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation that shields it from obstruction and allows it to pass a simple majority vote. But because of their narrow margins of control over Capitol Hill, Mr Biden needs the support of all Senate Democrats and can lose as few as three in the House to get the plan passed.
But progressive lawmakers who want to see the reconciliation bill completed first urged Biden on Wednesday to lobby Democratic House leaders against holding a vote on infrastructure legislation on Monday. Fearing that their more conservative colleagues will refuse to back the broader plan once the infrastructure measure is enacted, Liberal Democrats have said they will withhold their votes for the bill until the reconciliation plan clears Congress. .