On Tuesday, Joe Biden continued to save his massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation “Build Back Better” spending bill when he delivered some unwanted news to the House Progressive Caucus. CNN reported that the president advised the progressives that free community college must be removed from the bill’s final version.
Biden also told caucus members that the child tax credit will not be made permanent in the bill but will only be extended by one year. The credit will also become means-tested. That change was demanded earlier by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said that he would not vote for the spending bill otherwise.
Additionally, home-care services for older Americans will be cut from $400 billion to less than $250 billion. Biden told House members that the bill would retain expansion of Medicare benefits to include dental, vision, and hearing medical services.
The “Build Back Better” spending bill was proposed as a budget reconciliation measure to bypass the filibuster rule in the Senate. Using that process, the bill would need only a simple majority to reach a final vote in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes needed to override a minority filibuster on regular legislative bills.
As the Biden spending package is not expected to receive any Republican support, Biden needs all 50 Democrat Senators in addition to a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris to be certain that his spending bill will pass in the upper chamber. Sen. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have said they will not support the spending bill as initially proposed for a combination of parts they find objectionable.
Biden had publicly conceded last week that the final bill would have to come in with a lower total price tag and indicated that the free community college program was at risk. He said that “to be honest,” Democrats are going to have to accept getting “something less” than $3.5 trillion this year.