Dem leaders say they are close on massive spending bill, but 5 key issues gumming up the works: report

Democrats continue to scrabble to salvage something out of their stalled “Build Back Better” agenda, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” to say they are “pretty much there and that she hoped to pass the bill by the end of the week.

“We have 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made. I think we are pretty much there now,” Pelosi told network anchor Jake Tapper.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., echoed that sentiment on Monday, saying that “a lot of the bill is written” before adding that a handful of items remained unsettled and they “first have to get some kind of agreement on those,” The Hill reported.

When asked if Democrats will be able to unveil their reconciliation plan before Thursday, which is when President Biden leaves for the international climate summit COP26, which gets underway Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, Schumer replied: “That’s our goal.”

The sticking points are rather complicated, with radical left elements of the party remain at odds with “key centrist holdouts” — Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., chief among them — on issues like national paid parental leave policy and expanding Medicare coverage.

According to The Hill, there are five sticking points: Medicare and Medicaid expansions; paid family leave; taxes on the wealthy and corporations; child tax credit; and climate change.

On the first issue listed, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was adamant in a tweet over the weekend that his proposal to expand Medicare would be part of the final package.

“The expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision is one of the most popular and important provisions in the entire reconciliation bill. It’s what the American people want. It’s not coming out,” the Senate Budget Committee chairman tweeted.

But Manchin said Monday that it wasn’t financially feasible given that Medicare’s board of trustees has warned that its hospital insurance trust fund is estimated to be depleted in 2026, the article noted.

“My big concern right now is the 2026 deadline [for] Medicare insolvency and if no one’s concerned about that, I’ve got people — that’s a lifeline. Medicare and Social Security is a lifeline for people back in West Virginia, most people around the country,” Manchin said. “You’ve got to stabilize that first before you look at basically expansion.”

On paid family leave, Democrats had originally proposal up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, but with Manchin holding from to a reduced price tag for the bill, Biden said last week that the plan would likely be cut down to just four weeks, with The Hill suggesting “it’s possible the proposal could be axed altogether.”

Manchin and Sinema appear to be game for taxing the wealthy to pay for their sweeping social spending and climate package, according to the online political news site, which said negotiators were still huddling Monday to hammer out the fine print in a plan that would affect about 700 of the wealthiest Americans and raise hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

Manchin successfully pressured the White House and fellow Democrats to whittle down expanded

Child tax credits remain a contentious issue, with Manchin successful in cutting it to just a one-year extension, though he is trying to require means testing and work requirements — demand that are reported “are infuriating Sanders and his liberal allies on the Hill given that they originally wanted to make the child tax credit permanent,” The Hill reported. Manchin may have to cave here.

On the issue of climate change, the article said the left is hoping Biden’s upcoming climate summit appearance will give them some momentum after Manchin “dealt a blow to a $150 billion clean electricity program that was meant to be a centerpiece of Biden’s climate agenda.”

Tom Tillison


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