Two Democratic senators may derail Biden’s aggressive recovery package

The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives on Friday passed President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social policy and climate package, sending it back to the Senate where it is likely to be modified further.

The Senate is evenly divided, so the Democrats are using a budget reconciliation measure to try to pass the legislation with a simple majority, but even that is not assured.

Two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have not confirmed they will support the House-passed version, and Republicans could offer amendments intended to force the majority to cast votes that are unpalatable to the swing voters.

The New York Times reported that Manchin and Sinema have been receiving many campaign contributions from donors more usually associated with Republicans since they emerged as the “major impediment to the White House’s efforts to pass its package of social and climate policy.”

No Republican is expected to vote for the bill, which they call too expensive and reckless, despite the GOP’s having consistently cut taxes on the richest Americans and corporations that have plunged the nation nearly $30 trillion in debt since President Ronald Reagan slashed top tax rates from 70 percent to 28 percent.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the restrictions the legislation places on fossil fuels “would saddle families with even higher prices and make our nation even more dependent on Russia and the Middle East” as the Republicans continue to ignore warnings that a .

The White House has repeatedly called it “historic”, saying it contains “transformative investment in children and caregiving … the largest effort to combat climate change in American history, the biggest expansion of affordable healthcare coverage in a decade, the most significant effort to bring down costs and strengthen the middle class in generations.”

Here is what the latest version contains, according to the White House:

Family benefits

  • Free preschool for all three- and four-year-olds
  • Support for childcare costs: Families that earn less than $300,000 per year would pay no more than 7 percent of their income on childcare
  • Tax credits worth up to $300 per child per month
  • Bolsters coverage of home care costs for the elderly and disabled people through the Medicaid health programme
  • Expands free school meals and provides $65 per month in grocery money during summer months for 29 million low-income children who are eligible for free lunches at school

Climate

  • Rebates and credits to cut the cost of rooftop solar systems by 30 percent and union-made electric vehicles produced in the US by $12,500
  • Incentives to encourage US manufacturing of clean energy technology and shift other industries to reduce carbon emissions
  • Creates 300,000-strong Civilian Climate Corps to work on environmental and climate projects
  • Creates a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to invest in climate-related projects, with at least 40 percent serving disadvantaged communities
  • New spending on coastal restoration, forest management and soil conservationhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.489.0_en.html#goog_69206229Play Video02:09Biden hails domestic policy victory before heading abroad

Healthcare

  • Enables the Medicare health plan for seniors to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs that have been on the market for at least nine years
  • Penalises drug companies that increase prices faster than inflation
  • Caps out-of-pocket prescription drug prices at $2,000 per year and lowers insulin prices to $35 per month
  • Expands Medicare to cover hearing aids
  • Reduces Affordable Care Act premiums by an average of $600 per person per year
  • Expands Medicaid coverage to low-income people in the 12 states that have opted not to expand the programme on their own

Housing

  • Expands affordable housing, public housing and rental assistance programmes
  • Broadens downpayment assistance to bolster homeownership
  • Expands lead paint removal efforts
  • Supports community-led redevelopment in low-income neighbourhoods
  • Encourages local governments to ease zoning restrictions that limit housing density

Education

  • Increases Pell Grants for college costs
  • More aid for historically Black colleges and other minority-serving schools
  • Boosts the Labor Department’s job training programmes by 50 percenthttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.489.0_en.html#goog_67500059Play Video24:02The tug of war within the US Democratic Party | The Bottom Line

Immigration*

  • $100bn in “immigration reform”, which is additional funding beyond the $1.75 trillion
  • Efforts to reduce backlogs, expand legal services and improve border processing and asylum programs

Other programs

  • Expands a tax credit for low-income workers to cover those who do not have children
  • More money for rural projects
  • Supports community violence intervention

Taxes

  • 15 percent minimum tax on corporate profits for companies with more than $1bn in profits
  • 1 percent surcharge on stock buybacks
  • 15 percent minimum tax on foreign profits of US corporations
  • 5 percent surtax on personal income above $10m
  • Additional 3 percent surtax on income above $25m
  • Close loophole to prevent the wealthy from avoiding 3.8 percent Medicare tax
  • Bolster the Internal Revenue Service to improve customer service and focus enforcement on wealthy tax evaders
  • Expands a deduction for state and local taxes that primarily benefits upper-income households in high-tax states. Republicans had reduced that benefit in their 2017 tax cut package

*Immigration provisions could be removed from the legislation by the Senate parliamentarian

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