Nancy Pelosi insists Biden’s $1.75 trillion reconciliation plan can be ‘resolved by the end of the day’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately told Democrats she aims to finalize the text of President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion economic agenda on Tuesday, lining it up for a vote later this week, according to a person in the room.
“I’m not announcing a vote, but I did say that will be this could be resolved by the end of the day,” Pelosi told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
Pelosi is pressing ahead despite some House moderates echoing Senator Joe Manchin’s complaint about not knowing the full cost and economic impact of the tax and spending bill. The West Virginia Democrat, whose vote is critical in the evenly divided Senate, on Monday said still was withholding support for the legislation until the cost analysis is done. On Tuesday, however, he indicated that he wasn’t trying to derail the Biden plan.
“We’ll get this back on track,” Manchin said Tuesday morning. “The White House knew exactly where I stand, there was a couple concerns that we had to had to work through.”
Democrats also are still negotiating on some key parts of the plan, including cutting prescription drug prices, changing the state and local tax deduction and immigration. Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Monday that paid family and medical leave won’t make the final cut for the legislation but Democrats are still discussing expanding Medicare to cover dental and vision care.
No centrist House Democrats have yet threatened to block a vote on the legislation that forms the biggest parts of Biden’s agenda. But their call for more detailed analyses of its costs is yet another indication that Pelosi, Biden and other Democratic leaders haven’t fully sealed the deal to get the measure passed. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill is expected to take two more weeks.
Pelosi is focused on the House voting on the tax and spending proposal and a separate $550 billion public works measure before she attends the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow next week, Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said Monday. Pelosi’s office has not announced when she is traveling to the summit, which lasts until Nov. 12.
Progressives have sought to leverage their support for the infrastructure bill to ensure passage of the larger economic package. On Tuesday, Representative Jimmy Gomez of California said progressives won’t support voting on the infrastructure bill before the tax and spending measure is ready. However progressives are no longer tying it to the Senate acting as well on the same legislation.
Pelosi told the caucus that Democrats were nearing agreement on a prescription drug plan, but other lawmakers were less optimistic.
Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who is leading the drug price talks for progressives, said, “We’ll finish when we finish” and would not commit to an agreement today.
“We want something that meaningfully lowers the prescription drugs,” he said.
The emerging plan could allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time, and talks continue on what categories of drugs would be subject to the cost-cutting negotiation power.
To do that and not lose votes, Democrats will likely have to drop or modify a proposed 95% excise tax on drug companies that was originally proposed to force them to lower prices for younger patients not part of Medicare.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor early Tuesday that he anticipates an agreement on the drug price negotiation provision “as early as today.”
“The deal will finally lower the costs of prescription drugs for seniors and working families,” he said.
Immigration could prove to be a sticking point for Democrats. The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that two previous proposals creating pathways to citizenship do not meet strict criteria needed to push the package through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process, which allows Democrats to avert a Republican filibuster.
Representative Lou Correa of California said he and two other House Democrats—Chuy Garcia of Illinois and Adriano Espaillat of New York—would not vote for the economic agenda if it doesn’t address immigration. House Democrats can afford to lose no more than three votes if all Republicans vote against the legislation, as expected.
Senate Democrats plan to put a third proposal before the parliamentarian as soon as Tuesday, and she is expected to rule in the coming days. This language would would provide temporary deportation protections for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Correa said he Says he “absolutely” wants to overrule the parliamentarian if she doesn’t permit the latest immigration plan.
“There’s always opportunities and you have to create opportunities where there are no opportunities. And this is a big opportunity that should not be passed up,” he said.
—With assistance from Laura Davison and Laura Litvan.
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