Bucking Manchin, House puts paid vacation back in budget bill | National policy
By LISA MASCARO. MARY CLARE JALONICK and FARNOUSH AMIRI Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Democrats said on Wednesday that paid family and medical leave would be reinstated in their $ 1.75 trillion social and environmental spending bill, reviving a key item on the president’s agenda Joe Biden and setting up a showdown with a key Senate Democrat. who opposed it.
Biden reluctantly dropped a White House executive’s reduced paid leave proposal last week after Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., hesitated over the cost. But Democrats who pushed for the break for decades continued to do so, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that she would be part of the House’s broad social spending program.
The text of the bill due for release on Wednesday is expected to include four weeks of paid leave to allow people to recover from serious illness, childbirth or care for family members, according to three people familiar with legislation who requested anonymity to discuss it.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal said in a statement that the committee had agreed to a compromise that fully pays for the program.
“The Ways and Means Committee has developed a policy that will finally give workers and their families the peace of mind of knowing that when a disaster strikes, they can count on paid time off to avoid a total crisis,” said Neal.
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The last-minute reinstatement of paid family leave comes as Democrats attempt to craft a final package that can be passed by both houses, and every Democratic vote is needed in the Senate at 50-50. Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues that the text of the bill with changes to the entire package is being prepared for a hearing later today. Votes in the House could take place as early as this week.
“The hearing will take place today, so that we can discuss the legislation,” Pelosi wrote. “Today is another important day in our historic effort to make the future a better place for the American people.”
Manchin, who said Democrats needed to take more time in negotiations, said after the paid vacation was announced that he “had no idea, they just told me,” adding that “we should be able to work in a bipartisan way “. The bill faced universal opposition from Republicans.
Democrats reached agreement on Tuesday on a plan to cut prescription drug costs for most seniors, capping out-of-pocket Medicare costs at $ 2,000 and lowering the price of insulin, backing up a pledge to campaign under the $ 1.75 trillion national policy proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer admitted it was not as radical as Democrats had hoped, but a compromise was found with a recalcitrant Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Democrats are rushing to overcome party battles and finish a final version of Biden’s plan. Progressive and centrist lawmakers, especially Manchin and Sinema, have argued over the details of the sprawling 1,600-page package.
Still, Democrats have strengthened at least one pending provision – relaunching the prescription drug deal.
Schumer said that for the first time, Medicare will be able to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs in its Part B and Part D programs. The $ 2,000 cap on out-of-pocket expenses would benefit older Americans receiving the benefit. Part D prescription drugs, of which 48 million, Democrats said.
And there would be “a new monthly cap on the price of insulin, and an ‘inflation’ rebate policy to protect consumers from blatant annual price increases,” Schumer said. Insulin prices would drop from $ 600 per dose to $ 35. .
Sanctions on drugmakers for raising their prices beyond the rate of inflation begin this year.
Sinema’s office released a statement saying the senator “welcomes a new agreement on a historic and transformative Medicare drug negotiation plan that will reduce out-of-pocket expenses for the elderly.”
The AARP, the powerful organization for older Americans, has signaled its support pending details. CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement that there was “no bigger problem affecting the wallets of seniors on Medicare than the ever-increasing costs of prescription drugs.”
But Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America president and CEO Stephen J. Ubl said the proposal “gives the government the power to dictate the value of a drug.” The pharmaceutical lobby has warned that it “threatens innovation”.
On another issue, Democrats moved closer to agreeing on a plan to remove the $ 10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions that particularly hits New York, California and other high-tax states and was adopted as part of the 2017 Trump-era tax plan.
While repealing the SALT deduction cap is a priority for many lawmakers in northeastern states, progressives want to prevent the super-rich from benefiting from it. As part of an emerging plan, the cap would be repealed from 2021 to 2025, but reinstated from 2027 to 2031, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss the private interviews.
Manchin has been an unreliable partner for Biden’s grand vision, raising concerns over the president’s plans to expand healthcare, childcare and other social services and tackle climate change.
A group of House Democrats met privately with the West Virginia senator in the Senate on Tuesday. He showed no signs of slowing down on Tuesday, despite widespread criticism of the power of a single senator to maintain the party’s national priority.
“It’s going to take a while,” Manchin said in brief comments Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Progressive Caucus Leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Said, âI don’t know what Senator Manchin thinks, but we are going to pass both bills in the House and we are going to make transformative change. to the people. “
The $ 1.75 trillion package would provide large numbers of Americans with help paying for health care, education, children’s education, and senior care in their homes. It would also provide some $ 555 billion in tax breaks encouraging cleaner energy and electrified vehicles, the country’s biggest commitment to tackling climate change.
Much of its costs would be covered by higher taxes for people earning more than $ 10 million a year and large companies, which would now face a minimum tax of 15% in an attempt to prevent large companies to claim so many deductions that they end up paying no tax.
Some moderate Democrats in the House have said they want to see the Congressional Budget Office’s final assessment on all of its budget costs, before proceeding to the vote.
Associated Press editors Kevin Freking and Alan Fram contributed to this report.
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