Manchin is putting Biden’s child tax credit on the chopping block, digging in on who should qualify

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Democrats want to extend the child tax credit as part of their social spending bill.
  • Manchin has led a push to impose a work requirement, which may shut out many families already receiving the cash benefit.
  • Democrats may cut higher-earners from receiving the money, targeting it for the neediest.

On Friday, cash hit the bank accounts of roughly 36 million families in America. It’s the fourth round of direct payments under the Democrats’ revamped child tax credit, part of President Joe Biden’s stimulus law.

Biden argues the cash benefit is a game-changer for American families, bolstering their ability to put food on the table and pay the bills. Early data indicates that it helped feed 2 million kids in its first month and kept 3 million out of poverty.

Families can get a $300 monthly benefit per child age 5 and under, amounting to $3,600 this year. The measure provides $250 each month per kid age 6 and 17, totaling $3,000. Half the benefit comes as a tax refund in 2022, and people don’t need to file taxes to qualify like they used to before this year.

But like most Democratic initiatives at the moment, it faces potential cuts in a nascent social spending bill. The credit forms a big part of their marquee domestic package and most support making the changes permanent. Congressional Democrats, though, are eyeing cuts across the board to satisfy a small faction of centrists like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Manchin has been on a solo endeavor to impose a work requirement for a month, an attempt to ensure only families who are working and filing taxes can receive the federal aid. He argues restricting eligibility to lower-earning families ensures government assistance will reach the neediest.

The West Virginia Democrat floated a $50,000 income threshold earlier this month. “If you’re gonna target, target to people that need it the most, the working,” he told HuffPost.

Manchin holds outsized sway of Biden’s economic agenda. Democrats are using reconciliation, a legislative maneuver which requires only a simple majority and sets up a path to circumvent unanimous GOP opposition. Democrats need near-unanimity in the House and can’t afford a single defection in the 50-50 Senate, meaning Manchin’s vote is make-or-break for the package.

Adding a work requirement could shut out millions of families. The previous structure of the child tax credit left out families who didn’t earn enough to pay taxes, amounting to 27 million kids who only got part or none of the credit because their families didn’t earn enough.

House Democrats want to renew the child tax credit until 2025, betting the benefit will become too politically costly not to renew. It’s the same year some individual tax cuts under the Republican tax law are scheduled to expire as well.

“I think 2025 is a compromise,” Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, one of the expansion’s architects, told Insider last month. She argued the income thresholds were already scaled back from $130,000 for singles in her original child tax credit bill to $75,000 in the stimulus law.

There may be some appetite to lop off eligibility among higher-earners, given that part of the credit can reach households making $400,000 a year. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hinted at that possibility in an ABC News interview last Sunday.

“We know that programs that are universal have tended to be long lasting and very popular,” she said. “But there is also an argument for making sure that the highest income Americans perhaps don’t get the benefit of a program that is most needed by those with lower income.”

A Senate Democratic aide familiar with ongoing discussions told Insider that Senate Democrats were still eyeing expanding it to 2024, though cautioning that wasn’t final given there’s still no agreement on a price tag. The person said they may cut eligibility from higher-earners as well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden concedes Democrats ‘are not going to get $3.5 trillion’ for their social spending bill as Manchin and Sinema force huge cuts

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Capitol Child Development Center, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Hartford, Conn.

  • Biden publicly acknowledged that his $3.5 trillion social spending bill will need to be cut.
  • “We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it,” he said.
  • He also appeared to suggest some measures like tuition-free community college could be dropped.

President Joe Biden conceded on Friday that Congressional Democrats weren’t going to get the full $3.5 trillion social spending bill that was outlined earlier this summer, the first time he’s publicly acknowledged the price tag needed to be cut in the face of resistance from a small but potent group of centrists in his party.

“I’m convinced we’re going to get it done. We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion,” he said at a speech at a childcare center in Hartford, Connecticut. “We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it, and we’re going to come back and get the rest.”

Biden also appeared to suggest some measures in the safety-net bill could be dropped entirely. “I don’t know if I can get it done, but I’ve also proposed two years of free community college,” he said.

The president’s remarks illustrate the tenuous state of the negotiations between Democrats and Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on their safety net bill. It includes childcare subsidies, new Medicare benefits, Medicaid expansion a revamped child tax credit, affordable housing and more. All are on the chopping block with Democrats struggling to resolve major differences on the scale of tax increases and which priorities to fund.

Biden has privately floated a $2 trillion price tag as a possible compromise.

Many Democrats are growing frustrated with the pair since they want to approve the legislation as quickly as possible so new federal benefits get out the door quickly ahead of next year’s midterms. But negotiations are stalling out, partly over Sinema’s resistance to lifting tax rates for individuals and large businesses.

The party is pushing the spending plan through a process known as reconciliation. That allows Democrats to approve it with a simple majority and skirt unified GOP opposition. But Democrats need both Manchin’s and Sinema’s votes for the plan to clear the 50-50 Senate, making unanimity in the upper chamber imperative to their success.

Biden appeared to suggest that another reconciliation bill could be in the cards, a possibility some House Democrats haven’t been ruling out for next year. The White House didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden’s Supreme Court commission is ‘divided’ on whether expanding the court is the right move

US Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is seen on the first day of the new term, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

  • President Biden’s commission to study Supreme Court reforms released draft materials on Thursday.
  • Interim findings show the commissioners were divided on a proposal to expand the size of the court.
  • The commission will release its final report next month.

President Joe Biden’s commission to study Supreme Court reforms released draft materials on Thursday, ahead of its final report due next month.

The commissioners wrote they are “divided” on whether a reform proposal that has sparked national debate, adding more justices to the nine-member bench, “would be wise.”

Biden introduced the idea of a presidential commission to study the court while he was on the 2020 campaign trail, as liberal activists and some Democrats urged him to consider expanding the number of justices to ensure that it’s ideologically balanced. Biden has never publicly embraced that idea.

It’s “likely that a ‘balanced bench’ would continue to produce a significant number of divided results in contested cases, even on an evenly divided Court, keeping the Court at the center of charged political debates, for better or worse,” the draft report said.

The commissioners note that the conversation to expand the size of the court stems from 2016, when Senate Republicans, led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, blocked Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s court nominee. Garland was going to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died that February, nine months before the upcoming election. But the seat was filled in April 2017 by Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. McConnell has said it was the “single most consequential” decision he’s made in his decades-long public career.

Since then, Democrats have also criticized last year’s swift confirmation process of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was added to the bench a little over a month after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and around a week before the 2020 presidential election. The move went against the wishes of Ginsburg herself, who wanted her successor to be chosen by whoever won the election.

The commissioners wrote that “rather than calm the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court, expansion could further degrade the confirmation process. There could be significant battles over any Justice added by a Court expansion measure.”

However, one court reform proposal that commissioners said has gained “bipartisan support” is setting term limits for justices, who currently serve lifetime appointments.

“The United States is the only major constitutional democracy in the world that has neither a retirement age nor a fixed term of years for its high court Justices,” the draft report said.

The draft comes as the new Supreme Court term is underway, with the justices considering a number of explosive cases, including challenges to abortion rights and gun laws.

Biden will weigh in on the commission’s report once its finalized in mid-November, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday during a press briefing.

The commission aims to provide an “assessment” and not a “recommendation” on court reforms, she added.

In April, Biden established the 36-member commission made up of a bipartisan group of legal scholars, advocates, former federal judges and practitioners who have appeared before the Supreme Court. The group has engaged in lengthy discussions over the course of three meetings to examine court reform proposals, as well as other areas of the court, including its role in the Constitution and how the justices select cases and review them. They will hold their final meeting on Friday.

Critics, mainly Republicans, have blasted the proposal of adding more justices to the bench as “court packing.” Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest member, has also repeatedly cautioned against the reform, warning that such a move could erode public faith in the institution.

“One party could do it, I guess another party could do it. On the surface, it seems to me that you start changing these things around, and people will lose trust in the court,” Breyer told Fox News last month.

The commissioners in their draft materials also pointed out the importance of maintaining the legitimacy and independence of the federal judiciary, writing that the court’s “standing with the public and government officials have long been regarded as crucial to the institution.”

The court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority after former President Donald Trump appointed three new justices to the bench. McConnell has signaled that he’ll likely block a potential Supreme Court nominee from Biden if Republicans take back control of the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

The comments prompted liberals to amplify calls for Justice Breyer to retire immediately, so that Biden may choose a replacement while Democrats still hold the Senate. Breyer, 83, has not announced any plans to step down.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats say they ‘have no sense’ of what Kyrsten Sinema wants in Biden’s safety net package as she opposes tax hikes

Kyrsten Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

  • Sinema is frustrating many Democrats on Capitol Hill as talks on Biden’s social spending bill stall.
  • Two Senate Democratic aides tell Insider she’s opposed to any corporate and individual income tax increases.
  • “I can’t put myself in her head,” House Budget Chair John Yarmuth recently told reporters.

It’s not just Bernie Sanders. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is vexing many of her Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The Arizona Democrat is off fundraising in Europe, The New York Times reported, as negotiations on Democrats’ social spending bill stall out with few signs that Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will resolve their differences over a large climate, education, and healthcare spending bill.

The centrist pair are sparking frustration among rank-and-file Democrats, who want to quickly wrap up talks and muscle the spending plan through the reconciliation process. That allows the party to approve it with a simple majority and bypass unified GOP opposition,along with the Senate’s usual 60-vote threshold. Democrats need Manchin and Sinema’s votes for the plan to clear the Senate. But at least it’s (somewhat) clear what Manchin wants.

Manchin says he wants to contain the bill’s price tag to $1.5 trillion and restrain the eligibility for new benefit programs like the child tax credit to low-income Americans. But Sinema doesn’t speak with reporters on Capitol Hill and has only negotiated with the White House.

Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, chair of the House Budget Committee, told reporters on Tuesday, “I have no sense of what Sinema wants.”

“I can’t put myself in her head,” the retiring Kentucky Democrat said. “And don’t want to.”

A major holdup in the ongoing talks is Sinema’s opposition to any tax rate increases for individuals and large corporations, per two Senate Democratic aides familiar with the matter. Her position threatens to deprive the package of over $700 billion in revenue to finance the bulk of Biden’s agenda. The president has repeatedly promised his plan will be fully paid for and won’t add to the deficit. Most Democrats are also fervent in their desire to roll back President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.

“I do not think anyone in the caucus believes that to be a tenable position,” one of the aides told Insider. The New York Times first reported Sinema’s position. Her office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

“So far this week, Senator Sinema has held several calls – including with President Biden, the White House team, Senator Schumer’s team, and other Senate and House colleagues – to continue discussions on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” a Sinema spokesperson told Politico.

Biden expressed a flash of frustration with Manchin and Sinema last week during a press conference. “I was able to close the deal with 99% of my party,” Biden said as he held up two fingers. “Two. Two people.”

Progressives recently assailed Sinema and Manchin for not being clear in laying out their priorities. Sen. Bernie Sanders said on a press call on Tuesday “the time is now long overdue” for both senators to tell Democrats what priorities they’d be willing to eject from the spending bill, ranging from prescription drug negotiations

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters that progressives were open to cutting the price tag but not the overall scope of the package, favoring packing as many priorities into the legislation as possible, with shorter expiration dates.

“We’re not going to pit childcare against climate change,” she said. “We’re not going to pit seniors against young people.”

Whether Sinema ends up budging or digging in on her views means the difference between a hefty bill that transforms the economy or a skinnier one that only changes it around the edges. If she’s serious about no tax increases, then the bill could be even smaller than anyone is talking about.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jen Psaki says Biden still backs a $15 minimum wage, but he’s done little to prod Congress on it

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • The White House says Biden still believes in a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
  • Psaki said Biden believes it’s “long overdue,” but he’s done little to prod Congress on it.
  • Wages are climbing with employers scrambling for workers, but many more could benefit from a pay bump.

President Joe Biden still supports a $15 minimum wage, the White House says – but he hasn’t made any moves to raise it for the vast majority of workers since it was shot down from the stimulus law in March.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Wednesday briefing, “absolutely, he wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” and Biden thinks “it’s long overdue.”

Psaki pointed to the guidance of a top Senate official that blocked its inclusion from the rescue package as the main hurdle. In February, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough advised that a minimum wage proposal was “merely incidental” and therefore ineligible to pass through party-line reconciliation. Eight Democratic senators – including key centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – voted against putting the wage increase back into the package.

Some progressives urged the party to either fire or overrule the parliamentarian, which requires a majority vote in the 50-50 Senate. But cracks in the party over the speed and amount of a wage increase largely kept them from unifying around a plan.

It’s true that Biden has been a vocal proponent of a $15 minimum wage. The proposed hike formed a key plank of his presidential candidacy, and he has continually reiterated his support for a raise.

“We’re at $7.25 an hour. No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” Biden said in his first presidential town hall.

The federal minimum wage has remained stagnant for the past 12 years. It was last raised to $7.25 in 2009 – and hasn’t been raised since. Poll after poll shows Americans support a higher rate, but Congress is still stuck at an impasse. There hasn’t been a meaningful legislative push to raise it since March’s stimulus package. Senior Democrats gathered to discuss the issue at least once but those talks fizzled out.

In the meantime, some states have taken matters into their own hands. Florida, which former president Donald Trump won in the 2020 election, was the most recent state to hike its minimum; it will go up to $15 by 2026. All told, more than half of states have a federal minimum wage above $7.25.

Current wage pressures from ongoing labor crunches have also de facto pushed up the minimum wage across industries. Consistent wage growth pushed the average hourly wage up to $30.85 in September. In leisure and hospitality, the average hourly wage was $16.71 in September.

To be sure, Biden has utilized the limited mechanisms available to a president without party consensus to raise wages where he can. Biden issued an executive order to bring federal contractor pay up to at least $15 an hour, which is set to take effect by January 2022.

Even so, that leaves a wide swath of workers still uncovered by higher wage requirements. A January report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that a gradual raise to $15 by 2025 would give 32 million workers a raise.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sen. Elizabeth Warren says billionaires have ‘enough money to shoot themselves into space’ because they don’t pay taxes

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on September 28, 2021.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized the ultra-rich for traveling to space but not paying their taxes.
  • On “The View,” Warren discussed Biden’s spending package that would increase investments in healthcare and climate.
  • “The money is going to come from the billionaires who don’t pay their taxes and therefore have enough money to shoot themselves into space,” Warren said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday criticized wealthy Americans who have ventured into outer space but haven’t paid their taxes on Earth.

In an interview with “The View” on ABC, the Massachusetts senator discussed President Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar legislative plan, saying that Democrats want to make the ultra-rich pay higher taxes to help cover its costs.

“The money is going to come from the billionaires who don’t pay their taxes and therefore have enough money to shoot themselves into space,” Warren said.

“It’s going to come from giant corporations like Amazon,” she continued.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the second richest person in the world, in July flew to the edge of space on a rocket built by his space company, Blue Origin. The move prompted criticism. Before his journey, more than 185,000 people signed petitions not to allow Bezos to return to Earth.

“Billionaires should not exist … on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” one petition’s description read.

Bezos did not pay federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011, according to a bombshell report of IRS documents published by ProPublica in June. Amazon also paid no federal taxes in 2017 and 2018. Over the years, the billionaire has since his wealth increase, with a current net worth over $190 billion.

The world’s richest person, Elon Musk, likewise saw his wealth grow but paid a small amount in taxes, according to the ProPublica report. From 2014 to 2018, Musk’s wealth increased by $13.9 billion, but he reported only $1.52 billion worth of taxable income to the IRS. Comparing the $455 million he paid in taxes to his wealth gains, ProPublica said Musk paid a “true tax rate” of 3.27%.

Musk also has his own space company, SpaceX. He has not traveled to space yet, but has paid for a ticket for a future flight on Virgin Galactic, a company founded by fellow billionaire Richard Branson.

Democrats have blasted big companies and the ultra-wealthy for avoiding taxes and for not paying what they describe as their “fair share” in taxes.

“I’m sick and tired of the super-wealthy and giant corporations not paying their fair share in taxes,” Biden tweeted last month. “It’s time for it to change.”

Biden’s spending package would increase investments in education, healthcare, childcare, and climate, aiming to boost the working class of the country. But negotiations are ongoing as the Democratic party’s progressives and moderates remain divided over elements of the plan.

“Nobody is going to get everything they want – and that includes all the senators,” Warren said, alluding to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have opposed the size and the scope of the package.

“I want the folks on the other side to put on the table what they don’t want,” she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats are already floating another social spending bill to ‘put Republicans on the spot’ on popular benefit expansions before the 2022 midterms

nancy pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

  • Some Democrats are open to another reconciliation bill early next year as the current one is being trimmed.
  • “There is certainly a willingness to pursue that idea if it makes sense at the time,” House Budget Chair John Yarmuth told Insider.
  • Another party-line spending bill could be tough to achieve in 2022 given policy tends to take a backseat to midterm campaigning.

If Democrats can’t cram all of Biden’s social spending promises into the reconciliation bill this year, they may try again next year.

Congressional Democrats are grappling with key decisions on which measures should be scaled back or axed as they struggle to reach a middle ground with a small but potent centrist faction made up of figures like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema. Progressives are spearheading efforts to avoid pitting measures against each other, like affordable childcare against tuition-free community college.

But some in the party are starting to float another Democrat-only spending bill next year, perhaps as a way to score additional policy wins or pick up what was ejected ahead of the 2022 midterms.

“I have broached the subject with a number of people in leadership positions in the caucus,” Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, chair of the House Budget Committee, told Insider on Tuesday. “And there is certainly a willingness to pursue that idea if it makes sense at the time.”

“I do think it’s feasible,” Rep. Donald Beyer of Virginia, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means panel, said of another party-line bill next year. “We all are aware of the fragility of the majorities in the Senate and the House, we’re gonna do our very best to keep building on them.”

He cautioned that many frontline Democrats in swing House districts may become harder sells on another party-line bill and it would depend what measures are included. Still, Yarmuth mapped out a scenario where potentially dropped provisions like a Medicare expansion that’s popular with older voters essentially dares Republicans to oppose it.

He called it a good opportunity to “put Republicans on the spot” adding it was “good politics and good policy.”

Democrats do have another chance at a reconciliation next year, the same legislative maneuver they’re using to skirt GOP opposition and approve the social safety net bill with only a simple majority rather than the 60 votes typically needed. They seek to expand education, healthcare, child tax credits and more.

“Anytime you can pass something with just your own party, you have a shot,” Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the center-left Third Way think tank. “That’s going to depend on the appetite of a lot of members, including Manchin, Sinema and others. But I think it’s important for Democrats not to think that we get one year and then the rest of the Biden era is lost.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t rule out another spending bill last month, telling reporters that possibility “is not excluded.”

But policymaking tends to be harder as the midterms get closer and campaigning takes precedence. The strict procedures governing reconciliation means Democrats may not be able to act on another bill until after April 1.

“I don’t think as a caucus we should close the door on potentially doing another bill early next year,” a Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said. “It just seems silly to me that you would say, ‘”we’re done legislating after this point.'”

Rep. Jim Costa of California, among the 10 centrist Democrats who demanded an immediate vote on an infrastructure bill in August and nearly blew up Biden’s agenda, said he wouldn’t necessarily shut the door on another party-line bill as Democrats mull cuts.

“I think there could be,” he told Insider. “I mean, I keep trying. Just because it doesn’t get in one piece of legislation doesn’t mean I throw my hands up.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Free community college, child tax credits, and affordable housing are among safety net measures on the chopping block as Democrats struggle to find middle ground with centrist holdouts

Nancy Pelosi Chuck Schumer holding pen
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

  • Democrats are grappling with the likelihood of harsh cuts in their safety net bill.
  • “It’ll definitely be painful. And I don’t know how that’s going to shake out,” Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said in an interview.
  • Some top Democrats are already floating another reconciliation bill next year to pick up what gets cut.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California made it crystal clear on Tuesday: You can’t always get what you want – and it’s time for Democrats to make some tough decisions as negotiations on their social spending bill reach a make-or-break phase.

Pelosi is bracing lawmakers for the massive cuts required to assemble a spending package capable of clearing their threadbare majorities in the House and Senate, garnering the votes of a small centrist faction made up of figures like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

She lamented at a news conference that Democrats won’t be able to pass a social safety net package amounting to $3.5 trillion due to centrist resistance. But she argued the plan that emerges from back-and-forth negotiations will still be “transformative” and aligned with the party’s goal to remake the economy for the better.

Congressional Democrats and the White House are wrestling with huge dilemmas as they labor to get President Joe Biden’s economic plans over the finish line. Measures including childcare subsidies, new Medicare benefits, a revamped child tax credit, tuition-free community college, and affordable housing are all on the chopping block. Pelosi has opened the door to both dropping spending priorities and shortening their duration to squeeze as much as possible into the final legislation, with no price tag locked in yet.

Some are acknowledging grueling sacrifices will have to be made as pent-up frustration with centrists spills out into the open amid the slog. “It’ll definitely be painful,” Rep. Donald Beyer of Virginia, who sits on the tax-writing House Ways and Means panel, said in an interview. “And I don’t know how that’s going to shake out.”

Beyer, who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, said he was “frustrated” with Manchin and Sinema. “I certainly wish that Manchin and Sinema were of the same commitment to Build Back Better bill than the other 48 senators are,” he told Insider. “But they aren’t and this is what you get.”

‘Always a high-wire act’

Bernie Sanders Joe Manchin
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (W-V).

Democrats pushing for a sweeping anti-poverty package financed with tax hikes on large firms and wealthy individuals are crashing into resistance from Manchin and Sinema. Since they’re employing a legislative maneuver called reconciliation to pass it with a simple majority, Democrats can’t lose their votes in a 50-50 Senate.

Their lack of clarity sparked anger among many Democrats including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He’s assailed Manchin’s call for a sharply curtailed $1.5 trillion bill and said he doesn’t even want to be in the same room to negotiate with him. He’s also fiercely criticized Sinema.

“With Democrats, it’s always a high-wire act,” Jim Kessler, the executive vice president for policy at the center-left think tank Third Way, told Insider. “The negotiations are always public and caustic.”

Kessler, a former Senate Democratic aide, said he believed the legislation will brush against “at least 20” near-death experiences, similar to the passage of President Barack Obama’s signature health law a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act.

He laid out the possibility of a bill tailored to three areas: climate spending and related tax credits, then tax cuts for middle class families, and provisions that strengthen people’s ability to work like tuition-free community college that totals roughly $2 trillion. The sum is in line with what Biden privately told House Democrats about a potential compromise that could range from $1.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion.

That amount would cut the size and scope of the package’s major planks and probably force Democrats to eject others. They pushed a pathway to citizenship for 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the party-line bill. But the Senate parliamentarian has advised that it be excluded and Manchin told Latino Rebels it was “too big” to include.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia recently suggested to Insider the idea of adding a means test for tuition-free community college, since that would target federal assistance to lower-income Americans. A Democratic aide told Insider that possibility was on the table to cut down on costs.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released an analysis on Tuesday, illustrating what a $2.3 trillion bill could look like. It would include an expanded child tax credit, permanently extending ACA health insurance subsidies, paid family leave, and “affordable” pre-K and community college. But it would exclude medical leave.

Beyer said given that Democrats view fighting the climate emergency as critically important, those tax breaks and green energy provisions stand the best chance of having a longer duration.

Referring to the Biden child tax credit as “kiddie checks,” the Virginia Democrat said he believed they could be “reasonably reduced,” and a future Congress would renew them.

Some Democrats float another reconciliation bill next year

John Yarmuth Nancy Pelosi
House Budget Chair John Yarmuth and Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference.

Some centrist House Democrats have blamed progressives for pushing priorities that cost the party over a dozen seats in last year’s election, handing them only a three-vote majority. But progressives argue the dynamic has flipped and they occupy a new space in the party: Rescuers who pulled an economic agenda from the brink of oblivion, and salvaged their odds of scoring wins in the 2022 midterms.

“We’re not going to pit child care against climate change,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said on a press call on Tuesday. “We’re not going to pit housing against paid leave. We’re not going to pit seniors against young people.”

Affordable housing is another big priority that faces being cut. House Democrats set aside $300 billion to help renovate public housing and build new homes for low-income Americans, Insider’s Ben Winck reported.

“You can’t try to fit all this stuff into a bill half the size,” a Senate Democratic aide told Insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be candid. “Then nothing will work well and it will be like ACA all over again, where people experienced no benefit in their lives for years.”

In late September, progressives forced Pelosi to bail on approving a $550 billion infrastructure package focused on roads and bridges – legislation that Manchin and Sinema helped design – until the bigger spending bill containing the bulk of Biden’s priorities gets hammered out. They are pushing for the biggest bill they can get and favor sunsetting new benefit programs within a few years, daring Republicans to block their extension.

Kessler argues it “makes more sense” to fund fewer programs robustly so they wind up more effective and quickly produce tangible improvements in people’s lives. There’s also a high risk Democrats won’t be able to go back and fix mistakes in their sprawling bill: For years during the Obama administration, Republicans blocked efforts to repair the ACA’s flaws as it got off the ground, and they would likely do so for this bill if they win back a chamber or both in the 2022 midterms.

Some Democrats are starting to float the possibility of another reconciliation bill next year, a long shot given that policy usually takes a backseat to campaigning in midterm years. But Pelosi and her top lieutenants aren’t closing the door.

“I have broached the subject with a number of people in leadership positions in the caucus,” Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, chair of the House Budget Committee, told Insider. “And there is certainly a willingness to pursue that idea if it makes sense at the time.”

Yarmuth, who recently announced his retirement, said he views anothe reconciliation bill as a chance to “put Republicans on the spot.” He mapped out a scenario where Democrats stuff a bill with potentially excluded but popular provisions like expanded Medicare benefits and bait Republicans into opposing it, calling it “good politics and good policy.”

“I do think it’s feasible,” Beyer said of another party-line bill next year. “We all are aware of the fragility of the majorities in the Senate and the House, we’re gonna do our very best to keep building on them.”

He cautioned that dozens of frontline Democrats in swing districts may become harder to court on another bill. But the potential for more legislation is there.

“It’s important for Democrats not to think that we get one year and then the rest of the Biden era is lost,” Kessler said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

All 206 House Republicans voted against raising the US debt ceiling

kevin mccarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) talks to reporters following a classified intelligence briefing.

  • All 206 House Republicans voted against raising the debt ceiling.
  • The vote was 219-206 in the House, punting the threat of default until December of this year.
  • The bill heads to Biden’s desk and delays a showdown with GOP senators over the debt limit.

All House Republicans voted against a bill on Tuesday that allowed for a two-month debt limit hike to stave off a default on the US’s debt.

The party-line vote was 219-206 in the House. House Republicans slammed it as a step that would unlock a wave of Democratic spending in the near future.

The debt limit deals with the US’s ability to pay its bills and doesn’t authorize any fresh spending by Congress.

The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk, and will delay a showdown with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – who has said that Democrats need to raise the debt ceiling on their own through reconciliation – until December.

“This is our debt. This is America’s debt,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on the House floor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called out McConnell ahead of the vote, saying that he was playing, “Russian roulette with the economy.”

The US Treasury Department had warned that the US defaulting on its debt could have occurred within a week if Congress did not pass the stop-gap resolution, and sparked another recession as the economy climbed out of the pandemic.

The measure buys Congress staves off the risk of a default through early December. But a fresh political battle looms.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is drawing a line in the sand against any Republican aid to lift the debt limit. Eleven Senate Republicans paved the way for the two-month extension to clear the upper chamber last week.

“I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement,” McConnell wrote in a scathing letter to Biden on Friday. “Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling.”

McConnell argued Democrats must employ the arduous reconciliation procedure to approve a debt-limit hike unilaterally, the same demand he’s made since July. The process allows some measures to be passed with only a simple majority, shielding it from the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Adam Schiff couldn’t find the words to comfort his ‘devastated’ staffers after Trump won the 2016 election

Adam Schiff
In this file photo from Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, arrives on the floor of the House of Representatives.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff gathered his “devastated” staffers for a “pep talk” after Trump won the 2016 election.
  • Schiff told his staff plainly: “We’re fucked,” according to his new memoir.
  • “I just wasn’t up to it, not yet, and I promised them that I would have more to say after I gathered my own bearings,” Schiff wrote.

Rep. Adam Schiff revealed in his new memoir that he gave a “pep talk” to his staffers who were stunned after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, telling them: “We’re fucked.”

The California Democrat, who serves as chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, wrote that he gathered staffers in his Washington, DC, office about a week after Trump topped then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a surprise upset.

“They were young and idealistic and desperately concerned about what it meant to the country and to our future,” he wrote in the memoir, “Midnight In Washington.” He went on to recount telling his staffers that he knew how “worried” they were and that the election results meant a lot “for all that we care about.”

But “‘I just want to tell you, by way of encouragement … we’re fucked,'” he said with a dejected smile, adding that he was aware that wasn’t the kind of pep talk they had anticipated, the book said.

“I just wasn’t up to it, not yet, and I promised them that I would have more to say after I gathered my own bearings,” Schiff wrote.

Trump’s presidency turned Washington, DC, upside down and deepened the already frayed political divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

Schiff, in particular, went from a relatively low profile lawmaker on the historically bipartisan House intelligence panel to something of a bete noire for Republicans, in large part because of his dogged pursuit of investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russian government.

Members of the “Gang of Eight” and the intelligence committee, both of which Schiff was part of, were informed before the public that Russia had waged an elaborate and multifaceted campaign to intervene in the 2016 election to denigrate Clinton and elevate Trump to the Oval Office.

He wrote in his memoir that although the intelligence committee started its investigation into the matter on a bipartisan basis, Democrats and Republicans quickly diverged in their purposes, with Democrats focusing on investigating the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian nationals, and Republicans demanding leak investigations and casting doubt on the veracity of the US intelligence community’s findings vis-a-vis Russia’s meddling.

Schiff butted heads in particular with GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, a fellow California lawmaker and the chairman of the committee. Schiff wrote that their relationship grew particularly fraught when it surfaced that Nunes was coordinating with the White House while serving on a committee that was supposed to be investigating the White House.

The House’s Russia inquiry was rife with discord, conflicted messaging, and a lack of clear direction, so much so that Schiff wrote in his memoir that he was envious of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which drew praise for conducting a more bipartisan, fact-based investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia.

The California Democrat took over as chairman of the House committee in 2019, after Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms. He subsequently took the lead in a number of investigations into Trump’s business and financial activities, and his committee also led Trump’s first impeachment inquiry related to his Ukraine dealings.

Schiff served as the lead House impeachment manager after Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and he made headlines when he warned during Trump’s Senate trial, that if Congress didn’t convict and remove him from office, he would try to “cheat” in the 2020 election again.

Trump was ultimately acquitted and Schiff went on to joke about that first impeachment just under a year later when hiding out from pro-Trump insurrectionists. They had laid siege to the US Capitol after Trump, aggrieved over his 2020 election loss, encouraged them to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory based on nonsense claims of widespread fraud.

“You said this would happen,” a Democratic colleague told Schiff while they were hunkering down, his book said.

“Well, I didn’t say this would happen,” Schiff wrote that he replied.

“You warned that he would try to cheat again,” the unnamed lawmaker said of Trump.

“It didn’t require any great clairvoyance,” Schiff said, per the book. He then tacked on: “Someone really should have impeached that son of a bitch.”

Read the original article on Business Insider