What’s in—and what’s out—of Biden’s new $1.75 trillion Build Back Better reconciliation plan
After months of tough negotiation, President Joe Biden unveiled an updated framework for his Build Back Better budget resolution on Thursday. From the White House, Biden assured Americans that the compromised version of his administration’s keystone legislative package would create fundamental change in the country, but there is no denying that his new plan is nearly half of what he first proposed, as the proposal was slashed from $3 trillion to $1.75 trillion.
“No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is, that’s consensus and that’s what I ran on,” said Biden in his speech. “I know that it’s hard.”
So what’s in and what’s out?
In the new bill
Climate: The new bill will focus the majority of new spending, $555 billion, toward clean energy and climate investments. The Biden administration called it the largest legislative investment in tackling climate change in the nation’s history and said that it would allow the White House to achieve its goal of a 50% to 52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The plan would allocate $320 billion for clean energy tax credits; $105 billion to address pollution, extreme weather events, and to create a new Civilian Climate Corps to work with local communities; $110 billion in investments for clean energy companies and a cleaner supply chain; and $20 billion for the government to purchase energy efficient products and technologies.
Childcare and tax credits: These also make up a large part of the bill. About $400 billion will go to childcare and preschool. That money will largely go to creating universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and legislating that working American families of four earning less than $300,000 per year pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare for children under 6.
Another $200 billion will be spent on child tax and earned income tax credits. That includes an expansion of the enhanced child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan to provide 35 million households up to $3,600 in tax cuts per child. The plan will also extend the American Rescue Plan’s tripling of the credit for childless workers, which benefits 17 million low-wage workers.
Health care: $130 billion will go toward lowering premiums for the Affordable Care Act and closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and $35 billion will go toward including hearing services under Medicare coverage. An additional $150 billion will be spent on expanding access to home care for aging Americans and people with disabilities.
Housing and education: Additional programs and services intended to help the middle class include $150 billion to expand access to affordable housing, increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $550, and expanding free school meals during the school year to 8.7 million children while providing a $65 per child per month benefit to purchase food during the summer.
Out of the bill
“For much too long working people of this nation and the middle class in this country have been dealt out of the American deal, it’s time to deal them back in,” said Biden on Thursday. “I ran for president saying it was time to reduce the burden on the middle class, to rebuild the backbone of this nation,” but many of his campaign promises have made their way out of his reconciliation plan during negotiations.
Paid family and medical leave: This key component of Biden’s agenda is no longer a part of the plan. Biden originally called for 12 weeks of paid leave, which was eventually negotiated down to four weeks. Now there is no leave at all.
“It’s outrageous and shameful that in the midst of a global pandemic that’s forced more than 2 million women out of the workforce, Congress and the White House have put forward a preliminary legislative deal without paid family and medical leave,” Molly Day, executive director at Paid Leave for the United States, said in a statement.
“Let’s be clear: A budget deal that does not include paid leave fails working families and will not allow us to build back better,” she said.
Free community college: This is also on the chopping block. During his campaign Biden promised two years’ free tuition and fees at community college or at a public four-year university. In his initial Build Back Better plan, he promised free community college. But at a CNN town hall last week, Biden explained that it had to go because Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) “and one other person [have] indicated that they will not support free community college.”
Health care: A plan to force drugmakers to negotiate drug prices with Medicare is also notably missing from the new plan, as is expanded Medicare coverage of dental and vision.
What comes next?
It’s important to note that this framework is just a framework, and the reconciliation bill hasn’t been written yet. The announcement of a renegotiated deal could nudge legislators closer to a vote, but changes can still be made. Nothing is final yet.
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