KEARNY, NJ, Oct. 25 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden hoped for agreement on his key spending plans on Monday before attending a climate summit in Scotland, while the White House said Democratic negotiators were in the process of making a deal.
âLet’s do this. Let’s go! Biden said.
Biden traveled to New Jersey to sell his “Build Back Better” program after talks Sunday with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote is critical for the package, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, another democrat.
As negotiators focused on a billionaire tax to pay for the legislation, Biden used a speech in Kearny, New Jersey, to criticize past Republican plans that have largely benefited the wealthy, and the economic theory that if people at the top were doing fine, everyone would benefit.
âI’m tired of the ‘runoff’,â Biden said.
Whatever the final price, the legislation will be paid, Biden said.
“You hear those numbers, $ 3.5 trillion, $ 1.7 trillion – we pay for everything. It doesn’t increase the deficit by a single dime. So let’s get to work,” he said. declared.
Democrats seek to unite around two key laws – a package of up to $ 2 trillion in social and climate change spending and a $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill – to deliver on Biden’s campaign pledges .
A plan for the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to vote on the infrastructure bill this week has appeared in doubt, without agreement on Biden’s larger spending envelope.
We want to have an agreement so that we can move forward, âSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters when asked about the prospects for a vote on infrastructure.
Manchin, one of two Democratic resistance fighters along with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, told reporters on Capitol Hill he believed an agreement on a framework for the social spending bill could be reached this week. But he remained opposed to spending more than $ 1.5 trillion.
Manchin and top Democrats, including Schumer, failed to come to an agreement at a meeting later on Monday. Participants said discussions will continue.
Differences remained over proposals to expand the government’s Medicare health care program for the elderly, lower prescription drug prices and tackle climate change. A proposal to impose a methane royalty on oil and gas producers should not be included in the final package.
“There are still a few issues. But we are working on all of them,” Schumer told reporters after the meeting.
Manchin said earlier today that he supported the idea of ââa tax on the country’s roughly 700 billionaires to fund the programs.
âI support virtually everyone who pays their fair share of taxes,â he said. “I’m open to all kinds of things that charge people who don’t pay now.”
Democrats are expected to unveil the tax proposal in the coming days.
The protracted debate over spending plans comes as Biden prepares to attend two major summits: a G20 rally of world leaders in Rome which begins on Saturday and a climate summit in Glasgow, which begins on Sunday.
Biden expressed the desire for a deal before he left on Thursday.
“This is my hope,” Biden told reporters as he left Wilmington in his home state of Delaware on his way to neighboring New Jersey.
The White House said Biden was not worried about having to leave the country without legislative work being completed, saying he could still work on the issues while he was on the road.
“We believe we will get there and we are making progress every day,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Biden visited an elementary school in Plainfield, New Jersey, to promote the provisions of his plan, and was scheduled to deliver a speech later in the Newark area before returning to Washington.
Reporting by Nandita Bose, Steve Holland, David Morgan, Doina Chiacu and Jarrett Renshaw; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney
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