President Biden on Tuesday predicted Congress will pass his massive social and environmental spending bill “within a week” despite reluctance from centrist Democrats concerned about inflation hitting a three-decade high.
Biden envisioned success for his estimated $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan while touting his just-signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“I’m confident that the House is gonna pass this bill. And when it passes, it’ll go to the Senate. I think we’ll get it passed within a week,” Biden said during a trip to New Hampshire to promote the mass spending.
Biden argued it “will reduce the deficit and it was totally paid for, and it’s going to reduce inflation and meet the moment of climate change as well.”
The current plan is for House debate on the measure to begin Wednesday, with a vote on passage expected sometime between Thursday and Saturday.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a full assessment of the bill’s costs and proposed revenue sources by Friday — potentially adding to resistance from moderates.
Biden last month unfurled a $1.75 trillion “framework” plan, but House Democratic leaders hope to pass a bill that heaps on costly extras such as four weeks of subsidized family leave and revisions to the 2017 SALT cap on state and local taxes that can be deducted before people pay federal taxes.
Although Biden claims that the plan would be fully paid for, skeptics doubt revenue estimates associated with a proposed IRS crackdown and new taxes on businesses and wealthy people capable of sophisticated tax avoidance strategies.
Meanwhile, the White House is reportedly urging House Democrats to ignore the CBO analysis if, as expected, it finds that the $1.75 trillion social spending bill will not be fully paid for. The Biden administration “has begun bracing lawmakers for a disappointing estimate from the budget office” and encouraged them to “disregard” that assessment, the New York Times reported Monday.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called the bill a nearly $4 trillion “trojan horse” because it would cost much more than projected if programs are made permanent.
Democrats can lose few votes in the narrowly divided House and a single Democrat can tank the agenda in the evenly divided Senate, where the bill is being considered under special budget reconciliation rules that bypass the usual 60-vote threshold.
Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) says he’s concerned that “gimmicks” undercount the cost of proposed programs. He said this month that Democratic defeats in Virginia’s gubernatorial and legislative elections reflected alarm about inflation and that he wants to tap the breaks on new spending.
Centrist House Democrats and progressives engaged in a social spending standoff this month that nearly killed the infrastructure bill. Centrists said they didn’t want to vote on the bill without knowing its cost, but House leftists threatened to tank the infrastructure bill, which ultimately passed thanks to 13 House Republicans voting for it.
The Congressional Budget Office said $256 billion of the infrastructure bill isn’t paid for, potentially worsening inflation. Biden and other supporters of the bill argue it actually will have a positive impact on inflation by improving the transportation of goods.
As proposed last month, Biden’s social spending framework included $555 billion for environmental programs and $400 billion to fund universal preschool and cap child care costs at 7 percent of income for most families. Another $200 billion would extend the enhanced child tax credit for families that earn up to $150,000 — from $2,000 to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for those under six.
That edition of the plan also included $150 billion for home health care for the elderly and people with disabilities through Medicaid, $150 billion for housing including 1 million new “affordable” rental units, $130 billion in new Obamacare subsidies, $90 billion in racial and gender “equity” initiatives, $40 billion for higher education grants and $35 billion to expand Medicare to include the cost of hearing aids.