President Biden presented Democratic lawmakers with a framework on a new $1.75 trillion social spending and climate package on Thursday, seeking to unify a fractured party behind the plan before he heads to Europe for an international climate conference later in the day.

The package is far smaller than the $6 trillion measure that progressives had once hoped for and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution approved by the House and Senate earlier this year.

Officials talked up the framework as including the largest expansion of health care coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and said it would reduce premiums for more than 9 million Americans by an average of $600 per person annually.

It includes $150 billion in investments for affordable housing, extends the earned income tax credit and child tax credit for one year, provides funding for historically Black colleges and universities and raises the maximum Pell Grant.

But the framework does not include a number of key priorities for progressives that Biden also had advocated for.

Fact sheets and summaries provided by the White House made no mention of paid family leave. Democrats had hoped to include 12 weeks of paid family leave, before Biden last week acknowledged his goal had been trimmed to four weeks.

In the end, it was stripped from the package as one of a number of concessions to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of two centrists who balked at the cost of a larger bill and a number of specific provisions favored by many House and Senate Democrats.

The bill also does not include the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which had been seen as the best way to reduce U.S. emissions, and it would not allow the government to negotiate with prescription drug companies on prices for Medicare, a high priority for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

A White House official told reporters Biden backs Sanders on the prescription drug negotiations but that there were not yet enough votes to get that “across the line.”

The framework includes $100 billion to reduce immigration backlogs, to expand legal representation and improve the asylum and border processing system. But it would not overhaul the system or provide a path to citizenship for undocumented communities after a series of negative rulings by the Senate parliamentarian.

Democrats are moving the package through budget reconciliation rules that sidestep the filibuster. But they must meet strict rules for what can be included in the measure to do so.

The framework does not include a number of details, and one official acknowledged Biden was not outlining a final bill but that his framework would inform the legislative text to be written in the coming days.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, described the framework as “close to existing.”

He also said he wasn’t sure if the framework had support from all 50 Senate Democrats.

“I wish I could say yes, but the there's a great deal of uncertainty within the caucus as to what's contained in the deal,” he said.
“I will tell you there is a will to do it. And I think a positive feeling among 48 senators, we've been waiting to satisfy two senators, I hope that we can do that soon,” he added. 
Emerging from the meeting later Thursday morning, Biden told reporters he believed Democrats were "in good shape." Biden huddled with Democrats for about an hour before leaving with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Biden has in recent days met with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the two senators alluded to by Durbin, at the White House in a bid to win their support. He also met with Sanders, who in recent days has expressed frustration with the concessions demanded by Manchin and Sinema, on Wednesday.
While much smaller than what the White House had hoped for, officials were adamant it would still represent a historic investment if passed by the House and Senate.

“It’s important to remember that what we have on the table here are two bills, two bills that make historic investments in the United States, and the president is asking Congress to vote to approve both of them,” a senior administration official said.

The second bill is a $1 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure measure that has been on ice in the House, where progressives have wanted to see the social spending bill move first. Democrats would like to hold a vote on the infrastructure measure as soon as possible to boost Democratic gubernatorial candidates in next week’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey. But it’s unclear if the framework being outlined by Biden will be enough to win that vote.

Senior administration officials say they believe that the social spending bill will pass both the House and the Senate, but officials would not say whether they had ironclad commitments from key members.

“We are not going to speak for any lawmakers here, but we are confident that this historic framework will earn the support of every Democratic senator and pass the House,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters on Wednesday morning.

Officials said Biden would defer to Pelosi on scheduling votes on the infrastructure and social-spending measure.

“He will defer to Speaker Pelosi’s leadership on the specific timing of votes, but he will be full-throated that he believes each of these bills should pass when they come up,” the senior administration official said.

A planned vote in September on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate was scrapped, as progressives vowed to withhold their votes without a framework on the broader reconciliation package, and Democrats appeared at risk of blowing past a self-imposed Sunday deadline for getting both measures passed.

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