Good morning! It’s Friday, October 29, 2021. Election Day 2024 is 1,103 days away. Election Day 2022 is 375 days away.
Happy Friday and happy early Halloween! 🎃 Before I go for the weekend, let’s recap what happened yesterday on the Hill with the Democratic economic agenda.
Democrats punt on Biden agenda once again
President Biden is in Rome. His legislative agenda is in limbo.
Biden began his Thursday in a triumphant mood, telling reporters as he arrived at the Capitol that he had finally struck an agreement with Democratic lawmakers on the details of a social spending package that could pass through Congress.
The president said that the $1.75 trillion framework he was unveiling had unanimous Democratic support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that a vote would be held that day on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, hoping that the new framework would be enough to convince progressives to back the smaller bill.
Neither promise quite panned out, as we’ll discuss in a bit. But first: what exactly was in the outline of the Democratic spending package? Let’s take it piece by piece...
— $555 billion for combatting climate change, including clean energy tax credits, investments to prepare for extreme weather and create a Civilian Climate Crops, and incentives to spur new domestic supply chains for clean energy manufacturing
— $400 billion for child care, including making universal pre-K available to all 3- and 4-year-olds and offering government assistance to ensure child care costs no more than 7% of income for American families
— $200 billion in tax credits, including one-year extensions of the enhanced versions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers
— $150 billion for home care, including permanent improvements to Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities
— $150 billion for public housing, including funding for the construction and improvement of more than 1 million affordable housing units
— $130 billion to strengthen Obamacare, extending the expanded Obamacare tax credits through 2025 to ease health care premiums and make tax credits available for people specifically in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid
— $90 billion in equity investments, making targeted investments to benefit maternal health, Native communities, disadvantaged farmers, and other groups
— $40 billion for higher education aid, including increased funding for Pell grants and support for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), as well as higher education institutions mainly serving Natives and Hispanics
— $35 billion in expanding Medicare, establishing a hearing benefit as part of the program
— Plus: $100 billion for improving the immigration system, although this provision is contingent on approval from the Senate parliamentarian. (If it does make it into the final package, which is an uphill battle, the total price tag would be boosted to $1.85 trillion.)
So where does the package stand now?
For much of the day, progressives and moderates alike withheld their explicit support for the framework, engaging in an awkward dance as both factions waited for the other.
By Thursday night, though, Democratic leaders indicated that centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema were supportive of the outline, while the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced that they were backing the framework in “principle.”
Getting progressives in line behind the reduced package — which is just more than a quarter of the size of their original $6 trillion proposal, and half the size of their more recent $3.5 trillion proposal — was a key victory for Biden. However, Democrats were still unable to convince the liberal faction to move forward on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until a vote is held on the spending package as well, the same dilemma they have faced for weeks.
Instead of sending the infrastructure package to Biden’s desk on Thursday, as Pelosi had hoped, the House approved another 30-day extension of surface transportation funding, a stopgap measure until passage of the bipartisan package.
And so, Biden’s two main legislative priorities slip to yet another week, as it becomes increasingly clear that the two pieces of legislation will have to move fully in tandem after all for progressives to agree to them.
That means Democrats are unlikely to have the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Virginia gubernatorial election on Tuesday or the spending package passed by the global climate summit next week — as they had been hoping, in order to boost their political odds and international credibility, respectively.
And so the long-awaited Infrastructure Week has been pushed back yet again.
All times Eastern.
President Joe Biden is in Vatican City and Italy today. Earlier this morning, he received his daily intelligence briefing, had an audience with Pope Francis and a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in Vatican City, and met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome.
At 9:15 a.m., he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. At 10:15 a.m., he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks at a DNC grassroots virtual event at 2:30 p.m. She will then travel to Norfolk, Virginia. At 6 p.m., she will deliver remarks at a campaign event for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, before returning to Washington, D.C.
First Lady Jill Biden joined her husband this morning for the audience with Pope Francis. At 9:15 a.m., she will have tea with Serena Draghi, the wife of the Italian Prime Minister. At 10:45 a.m., she will hold a bilateral engagement with Brigette Macron, the wife of the French President.
CONGRESS The House and Senate are not in session.
The Supreme Court will meet for its weekly conference.