Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at an event on the “Rebuild Better Act” and the climate crisis at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 28, 2021.
Elizabeth Franz | Reuters
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi suggested on Monday that the Democrats could cut the entire content of President Joe Biden’s economic plan in order to push it through Congress.
Party leaders admit that they may have to cut $1 trillion or more from the $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate proposals. The Democrats are trying to pass legislation with a small majority and no Republican votes, and they must appease the centrists who call for smaller bills.
This dilemma allows legislators to decide how to cut costs, either reducing plans or canceling some plans altogether. On Monday night, Pelosi hinted that her party could choose to remove some policies from the proposal altogether, while keeping other policies intact.
“In order to pass the “Better Rebuild Act” and the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Act” on time, difficult decisions must be made as soon as possible,” she mentioned in her letter to the House Democrats, referring to two aspects of Biden’s agenda.
She continued: “In most cases, the guidance I get from members is to do less so that we can still have a transformative impact on the family in the workplace and respond responsibly to the climate crisis: work and the planet A better agenda of reconstruction for the children!”
Pelosi did not specify which parts of the proposal could be cut, but she hinted that climate policy will remain a priority. The decision to cancel any part of the plan may affect the benefits that millions of Americans will see from the legislation in the coming years.
The initially outlined proposal would expand childcare, paid leave and medical insurance. It will expand the enhanced family tax credit, create a universal preschool and provide community colleges for two years for free.
It will also encourage the use of green energy and the construction of climate-resilient buildings and infrastructure through tax credits and other incentives.
As the Democrats try to pass this legislation in the coming weeks, any cost-cutting effort will be accompanied by major trade-offs.
The party must proceed with caution to advance two aspects of Biden’s agenda. After progressives threatened to vote against the bill, the House of Representatives had to delay approval of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate until the Senate accepted the Democratic Party’s larger plan.
The Democrats’ goal is to pass their larger bills through a budget settlement, which allows legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority. Despite this, the party cannot afford any defections in the Senate and can only lose three votes in the House of Representatives.
Cutting the plan to win the support of centrists such as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (DW.V.) may risk gaining support from progressives. For example, Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, supports the expansion of health insurance.
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