Thursday, February 22, 2024

To rally his party, Biden cut spending plans

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Washington) Joe Biden will travel Wednesday to Scranton, his hometown of Pennsylvania, where he will work to promote his investment plans, the amounts of which have been sharply adjusted in an attempt to bring together all parties of the Democratic Party.

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France media agency

This is the first time since his arrival at the White House that the US president has returned to this city with a strong labor tradition.

He will deliver a speech there to try to persuade all Democrats, without exception, to vote on his ambitious plans to reform America.

On Tuesday, he held intense negotiations with elected officials who threatened to derail his plans in Congress.

At stake, there are two broad programmes. The first relates to investments to modernize infrastructure. The second, called “Building Back Better,” saves social spending. These plans also include many measures to protect the environment.

To avoid a bitter political failure, the White House actually agreed this summer to cut the amount of the infrastructure plan to $1,200 billion from $2,200 billion over the eight years initially planned.

This amount was recorded in the Senate, but its passage in the House of Representatives is still pending, as the left wing of the Democrats stipulated its vote on the agreement on the social package.

The “Building Back Better” plan initially envisaged spending $3.5 trillion over ten years to boost access to education, health and childcare, as well as measures to combat global warming and climate.

But Democrat Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the Progressives in the House, said Tuesday night after meeting with Joe Biden that the president’s counter-offer now ranged between $1900 billion and $2200 billion. An envelope above the 1,500 billion required by moderate Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote is critical.

Until then, the left had rebelled against the fact that centrists were seeking to reduce the quantity. It remains to be seen if she will accept such a planned counter-offer.

“launch window”

Joe Biden met with two key Democratic senators on Tuesday, moderates Joe Manchin and Kirsten Senema, whose opposition to the social reform plan would constitute a veto, nothing more, nothing less. Because if the Democrats control Congress, their majority in the Senate is so short that any split is impossible.

At the end of the meetings, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki sounded more upbeat, noting that there was “broad consensus on the urgency to move forward in the coming days” because the “window of fire” for an agreement was “closing.”

And so it echoed remarks made earlier by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who also spoke of a consensus on the need for an agreement.

“We have to do it and we want to do it this week,” he insisted.

Pramila Jayapal said the president “has worked incredibly hard to get everyone to the point where things can move forward.”

The mediators, some of whom face highly competitive midterm elections, are determined to embody whatever legislative victory they may claim on the campaign trail.

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For Joe Biden, far from domestic political success, a vote on the “Build Back Better” plan will give him credit at COP26, the World Climate Conference in Glasgow in a few days.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted Wednesday on MSNBC that the president’s plans include “very important actions” including those related to addressing the issue of climate change, while repeating that they will also be beneficial to the US economy.

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