How paid time off, a tax cut for the rich and more could be removed from Biden’s social policy bill
WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats cheered on the US House floor after endorsing President Joe Biden’s massive social spending and climate bill.
But a major struggle awaits us over the coming month in the United States Senate, where Democrats cannot lose a vote in their party if they are to send the so-called Build Back Better measure to Biden’s desk.
It gives any Democratic senator virtual veto power over the bill – and some are already stating what they won’t agree to.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would spend about $ 1.7 trillion over 10 years. Budget analysts are forecasting about $ 500 billion in additional tax relief, bringing the total cost to about $ 2.2 trillion over a decade, more than previous White House estimates.
The measure has already been the subject of months of negotiations, aimed at making peace between moderate skeptics about the price of legislation and progressives who are frustrated that it does not go further in solving long-standing problems. date in child care, health care, immigration and other strategies.
Any change in the Senate means that the bill must be sent back to the House for another vote before it can be enacted, and its cost will rise or fall as well. And time is running out, with the number of session days shrinking as the end of the year draws near.
Here is more information on which House bill proposals are most likely to disappear once the Senate gets down to business:
Biden’s original proposal provided for 12 weeks of paid leave for parents and other caregivers who must take time off work to care for a new baby or other family member, or to recover from a sickness.
That new benefit was reduced to four weeks, then taken off the bill entirely – before four weeks of paid leave was rolled back into the final version of House.
But the paid holidays, which are popular among Americans, faces significant opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III, DW.Va., who has said for weeks that he does not support the inclusion of a new national paid vacation program in the bill.
Manchin said he does not believe such a program should be created through the reconciliation process, which the equally divided Senate will use to pass the legislation by simple majority.
He also said he preferred a paid vacation program funded by contributions from employers and employees, and Manchin expressed concerns about the solvency of a new benefits program.
“To expand social programs when you have trust funds that are not creditworthy, that go insolvent – I can’t explain that, it doesn’t make sense to me,” Manchin said, according to the Washington Post.
Under the bill passed by the House, the paid vacation program would begin in 2024 and would be available to most employed or self-employed workers.
The money would flow either through a new federal benefit or through existing state or employer leave plans, and those non-federal leave programs would receive some reimbursement from the federal government.
The United States is one of the few countries in the world and the only rich country – which does not have a national paid family leave program.
The four-week benefit in the bill passed by the House is also much shorter than what most countries offer, and less than the 12 weeks of unpaid job protection offered to some workers under the Law on family and medical leave.
Cap on SALT deductions
Senate Democrats of all ideological stripes oppose a provision in the House bill that they see as tax relief for wealthy residents of high-tax states. The measure would lift a cap on the federal deduction that people can take for state and local taxes, commonly known as the SALT deduction.
The provision was the main reason for Maine Democratic Rep. Jared Golden’s moderate vote against the bill in the House, but it was also expected to win votes from members like Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist from Vermont who meets with Democrats, spoke out against the “hypocrisy” of Democrats offering tax breaks to the wealthy.
It’s not just the Sanders wing of the Democratic caucus that opposes the measure. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Noted in a tweet last week that 70% of SALT benefits would go to the richest 5% of the population.
“The American people did not send us to Washington to cut taxes for the rich,” he tweeted.
But with Senate Democrats led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer – who has many voters who would benefit from the tax break – the provision might not be completely removed, even with members from Sanders to moderate Montana Senator Jon. Test, opposites. Instead, a compromise could emerge, say those close to the process in the Senate.
Sanders and Senator Robert Menendez, DN.J., are work on language that would limit the new deduction limit to those earning more than $ 400,000 per year.
An immigration proposal that House Democrats wrote into the bill is threatened more by the non-partisan Senate parliamentarian than by opposition from Democratic senators.
The measure would allow people in the United States who break immigration laws to keep their work permits and be safe from deportation for five years.
Immigration activists had called for more permanent relief, which was included in an earlier version of the bill than Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, rejected in september.
Because Democrats are pushing the entire package forward through reconciliation, he must abide by a rule for this process prohibiting provisions that have little impact on the federal budget.
Manchin a would have objected the part of the bill that would impose a new levy on methane emissions from fossil fuel production.
The proposal would increase the fee from $ 900 per metric tonne in 2023 to $ 1,500 per metric tonne in 2025.
Methane is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases causing climate change. Biden and others world leaders have promised at the United Nations climate conference earlier this month to reduce methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade.
Manchin, whose family has ties to the West Virginia coal industry, is often out of step with his fellow Democrats on energy issues.
Under manchin pressure, the White House dropped another major climate proposal in an earlier version of the bill. This measure would have created a program to reward utilities for meeting clean energy goals and punish those who fail to do so.
A spokeswoman for Manchin declined to comment.
Already released: the royalty of gold mines
Before the bill even reached the Senate, the House removed a section adding a federal royalty rate for miners of gold and other hard rock minerals. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Welcomed the removal of the measure that would primarily affect gold producers in her state.
Hard rock miners operate on federal land under an 1872 law that prevents them from paying the type of royalties levied on the oil, gas, and coal industries.
The House proposal, drafted by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Would have imposed an 8% royalty rate on new mines and a 4% rate on existing operations, affecting approximately $ 5-7 billion a year.
Environmentalists and fiscal hawks have long called for a royalty rate for hard rock mining, but Cortez Masto objected to the disproportionate effect it would have on Nevada.
A spokesperson for his office called the initial proposal “not launched” for the senior senator from Nevada, adding “Cortez Masto assured that the original provision of the House was not included in the legislation which has just been passed by the House.