President Joe Biden declared Thursday he has 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 departs for overseas summits.
President 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,” President Biden said at the White House. “Let's get this done.”
Together with a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill heading for final votes possibly as soon as Thursday, President Biden claimed a domestic achievement modeled on those of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
“I need your votes,” President Biden told the lawmakers earlier, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss the private remarks.
President Biden was eager to have a deal in hand before departing later in the day for global summits. But the revised package has lost some of the Democrats' top priorities as the president’s ambitions make way for the political realities of the narrowly divided Congress.
Paid family leave and efforts to lower prescription drug pricing are now gone entirely from the package, drawing outrage from some lawmakers and advocacy groups.
Still in the mix, a long list of other priorities: Free pre-kindergarten for all youngsters, expanded health care programs — including the launch of a $35 billion new hearing aid benefit for people with Medicare — and $555 billion to tackle climate change.
There's also a one-year extension of a child care tax credit that was put in place during the COVID-19 rescue and new child care subsidies. An additional $100 billion to bolster the immigration and border processing system could boost the overall package to $1.85 trillion if it clears Senate rules.
With support for even the narrowed package still an issue, President Biden said as he left the Capitol, “I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
In the divided Senate, President Biden needs all Democrats’ support with no votes to spare. The House is also split with just a few vote margin.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.