Progressives in Congress are open to slashing the cost, not the scope, of Biden bill in the United States
Democrats in Congress on Tuesday expressed a new willingness to lower the cost, but not the scope, of President Joe Biden's multi-trillion dollar plan to broaden social programs and tackle climate change, as they attempt to reach stalemate with party moderates.
Centrist Democratic Party members have objected to the plan's $3.5 trillion price tag. Biden must now strike a balance between trying to lower the cost of passage while also avoiding alienating progressives who are also essential to passage.
Following a meeting earlier this month on Capitol Hill with his fellow Democrats, Biden suggested the bill could cost $2 trillion over 10 years.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who aligns with Democrats, said reporters on a Tuesday conference call that "we are prepared to negotiate."
He initially sought a $6 trillion bill.
Sanders, on the other hand, drew the line on one initiative -- including Medicare's coverage for elderly people' eye, hearing, and dental care. "This to me isn't negociable," he said.
Sanders said it's time for centrist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to tell the rest of the party what they want in the bill, which is the centerpiece of President Biden' s domestic agenda, and that it is overdue.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, complained that moderates had not articulated a clear position.
Among its provisions are expansions of healthcare for children and the elderly, as well as significant investments in clean technology for everything from electric power plants to electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions responsible for climate change.
"We are waiting for a couple of senators to tell us what their proposal is," Jayapal said.
Over the past day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered conflicting views on whether Democrats will cut specific programs or adjust the timing to reduce the bill's cost.
A spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that two options were being considered.
Jayapal said that her nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus has indicated that it supports maintaining all the bill's primary priorities but could also accept reducing the number of years they would be in effect.
For example, she said, the legislation may provide for free community college, child care, and other programs for less than 10 years. But she added that climate change measures were needed for at least a decade.
Biden is expected to arrive in Glasgow in the coming weeks for a United Nations climate conference. Democrats hope to complete work on this massive bill by the end of October so that he can arrive with a significant set of climate goals enacted into U.S. law.
The $150 billion Clean Electricity Payment Program, which would reward firms that increase clean energy capacity such as wind and solar power and fine those who don't, is one example, Jayapal said. "Because it's a market-driven initiative, there are strong arguments for keeping that to ten years," she added.
Democratic legislators are attempting to get Manchin's support for the electric program, which he has long opposed, by increasing tax credits for coal and natural gas power plants that capture and store carbon dioxide. read more.
Both programs may help Biden's climate goals of decarbonizing the United States' power grid by 2035 and the region' economy by 2030.
Democrats plan to utilize a "budget reconciliation" technique to get their legislation through Congress without the support of Republicans, who typically can use their minority status to block bills.