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President Biden announced a framework for his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better domestic spending plan Thursday after months of negotiations among Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Over the course of those talks, a number of provisions were stripped out to gain the support of all 50 Democratic senators who were needed to pass the bill, but the White House has touted the agreement, saying it will fulfill the goal to “rebuild the backbone of the country.”
“I think we’re going to be in good shape,” Biden said while leaving Capitol Hill on Thursday morning after spending an hour urging legislators to support the deal.
If it has the votes to pass Congress, Build Back Better would follow the $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief passed along party lines by Democrats in March.
The budget deal is likely to be accompanied by a bipartisan bill, already passed by the Senate in August, that allocates about $550 billion in new spending toward infrastructure like bridges, roads, waterways and broadband internet. That bill has been stalled in the House for months as progressives pushed to pass a budget deal alongside it.
The White House is calling on House Democrats to pass the infrastructure deal now, but some progressives are hesitant to do so until the budget plan has also passed.
The budget deal, although significantly smaller than the original $3.5 trillion version progressives originally tried to pass, is still the biggest expansion of the nation’s social programs in decades and will affect millions of Americans.
It’s still unclear whether the budget deal has enough votes to pass, but if it does, this is what it will mean for you.
The deal includes a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit passed earlier this month. As a result, most Americans will continue receiving up to $300 per month per child under the age of 17. Because the credit is fully refundable, even the lowest-income families who make too little to pay taxes would receive the full benefit. Studies have found the program is keeping more than 3 million children out of poverty.
The plan includes free, universal preschool, as well as funding to limit the costs of child care. Families making up to 250 percent of a state’s median income will see their total expenditures on child care capped based on their annual earnings. The high costs of child care have been cited as one reason that many Americans are not returning to the workforce. Both those programs are funded for six years.
Medicare will now cover hearing aids for older Americans. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had been pushing for full coverage of vision and dental as well, but it was not included in the bill.
There is funding to reduce the premiums for those covered through the Affordable Care Act, as well as providing health insurance to 4 million lower-income people who live in states that do not offer the expanded Medicaid program. There is also a program to reduce a waiting list for in-home care for older and disabled Americans as well as improving the wages for those doing that care. Biden had pitched that program as part of a “human infrastructure” investment.
The plan includes $555 billion to both incentivize clean energy production, an attempt to move the country from fossil fuels to wind and solar, and provide tax credits to Americans to buy solar panels and electric cars. The White House wanted to have a deal on climate to point to when Biden and a number of his top staffers attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Scotland next week.
Housing and immigration
The White House states that the $150 billion being spent on housing will result in more than 1 million affordable homes, saying it will ensure the “public housing stock in big cities and rural communities all across America and ensure it is not only safe and habitable but healthier and more energy efficient as well.” The plan also includes funding to help with a backlog of 9 million visa applicants as well as addressing border processing and asylum claims.
Tax increases in the bill are targeted toward higher-earning Americans and corporations. There are new surtaxes on incomes over $10 million and $25 million, as well as a corporate minimum tax of 15 percent on corporations of $1 billion or more. There is funding included for the Internal Revenue Service to target tax cheats as well as a 1 percent tax on stock buybacks.
What’s not in it
After opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., paid family and medical leave were dropped from the package, leaving the United States as the only developed nation without a paid leave program. Manchin also nixed the Clean Electric Performance Program, a key climate initiative in the bill.
Another one of Biden’s key proposals, two years of free community college, was ultimately left out of the deal as well. Due to resistance from a small number of Democrats, a proposal to reform prescription drug pricing — a longtime campaign promise and a potential avenue for funding the programs — also did not make the bill, nor did a tax on billionaires.