WASHINGTON, DC — President Joe Biden promised to show the world that democracies can work to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As he prepares to push that message at a pair of global summits, his case could hinge on what’s happening in Washington, where he was struggling to finalize a major domestic legislative package.
After a fitful day of talks over the fate of spending bills that he cast as a choice between “leading the world, or letting the world pass us by,” Biden landed in Rome aboard Air Force One in the dark early Friday with the answer still undetermined.
Biden declared Thursday that he had reached a “historic economic framework” with Democrats in Congress on his sweeping domestic policy package, a hard-fought yet dramatically scaled-back deal announced just before he departed for the overseas summits.
Biden’s remarks at the White House came after he traveled to Capitol Hill to make the case to House Democrats for the still robust domestic package — $1.75 trillion of social services and climate change programs the White House believes can pass the 50-50 Senate.
“It will fundamentally change the lives of millions of people for the better,” Biden said at the White House. “Let’s get this done.”
It remained to be seen whether lawmakers would embrace the package or send Biden back to the negotiating table, as some key priorities like paid family leave and steps to lower prescription drug costs were excised from the bill, which will be paid for with hiked taxes on the nation’s wealthiest and corporations.
Here's what is included in the new plan:
Children and caregiving
- Free and universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, which amounts to the biggest expansion of public education in 100 years, according to the White House.
- Expanding access to high-quality and affordable child care to about 20 million children per year.
- Permanently improve Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities, which would make the most transformative investment in access to home care in 40 years, according to the White House.
- Expand the enhanced child tax credit that was included in the American Rescue Plan and provide more than 35 million households up to $3,600 -- or $300 per month -- in tax cuts per child.
Combating the climate crisis
- The largest portion of the framework focuses on climate and would include the largest legislative investment in combating climate change in US history, according to the White House.
- The plan includes clean energy tax credits for Americans installing rooftop solar panels, an electric vehicle tax credit, tax credits for clean energy production and would create a civilian climate corp. White House officials say the framework Biden is set to lay out will put the US track to Biden's Paris Agreement goal: a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
- The plan would lower premiums for 9 million Americans who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
- It would close the Medicaid coverage gap and allow 4 million uninsured people to gain coverage, according to the White House.
- Expand Medicare coverage to include hearing services.
Lowering costs for middle class
- Expanding access to affordable housing: The plan would allow the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes.
- Extend the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for about 17 million low-wage workers.
- Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for more than 5 million students enrolled in public and private, non-profit colleges and expand access to DREAMers.
- Expand free school meals to 8.7 million children during the school year, as well as provide a $65 per child per month benefit to the families of 29 million children to purchase food during the summer.