WASHINGTON — President Biden went all-in on his legislative agenda Thursday before he departed on his overseas trip.
He made a trip to Capitol Hill. He held televised remarks from the White House announcing a compromise framework on the Democrats’ social-spending bill. He got prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama, to praise the package. And he pressured House Democrats to vote for his bipartisan infrastructure bill.
All before he arrived in Europe and before Tuesday’s high-stakes gubernatorial race in Virginia.
And what does Biden have today to show for all of that activity?
A 100 percent locked-in deal? Not yet. While Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., praised the framework, they didn’t completely endorse it.
A vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before Tuesday’s contest in Virginia? Didn’t happen.
Big wins he could carry into Europe and ahead of next week’s Virginia contest? Nope.
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Dems who “were not prepared for a yes vote” on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “have expressed their commitment” to eventually vote for it.
So Biden and Democrats are getting closer and closer.
But when it comes to what the president accomplished yesterday, it’s hard to disagree with Matt Lewis’ take in the Daily Beast: Biden spiked the ball on the 10-yard line.
Bottom line: After the president’s rough months in August, September and now October, a touchdown is now in sight. They’re in the red zone.
But it will have to wait until November at the earliest.
Talking policy with Benjy: Here's what's in the framework
There are two big themes on the spending side of the “Build Back Better” compromise.
It's a climate and families bill
It's pretty clear where negotiators focused their priorities. The new Biden framework allocates $555 billion for climate change initiatives, including a slew of tax credits that environmental groups say are key to speeding up adoption of clean power, electric vehicles, energy efficient homes and buildings and more.
While Manchin dealt this section a blow by knocking out a clean energy standard for utilities, this is the biggest chunk of the bill overall.The other big swing is on pre-K and child care, where Democrats went for about the most robust version of each plan that was on the table. In fact, the 0-2 child-care program is maybe the only BBB piece that got more generous than previous iterations, even as big items like paid leave and new Medicare benefits were knocked out.
Negotiators capped child-care premiums at 7% for families making up to 250% of state median income. As recently as two weeks ago, Senate aides and advocates expected it to be as low as 150% and left-leaning policy wonks were bracing for an upper-middle class backlash.The bill also extends the Child Tax Credit for only one more year, but it makes its most important anti-poverty feature – fully refundable credits – permanent. Other key features, like $150 billion for home care and $150 billion for affordable housing, are MOSTLY investments in existing programs.
Most of it could disappear within a decade
Democrats went big on some benefits, so how did they fit costs into a bill that's half the size of the original? They added a self-destruct button.The pre-K and child-care plans would take several years to fully ramp up benefits and then expire entirely after six years to make the budget math add up. The looming expiration dates make it even less likely red states participate.
The bill includes some ways to get around that by providing grants to individual localities, but it’s going to be a challenge to implement. Democrats are taking a huge bet that enough places will have grown dependent on these programs that failing to renew them would effectively end child care as we know it, much like repealing Obamacare would for health care, and Republicans will cave.
The bill also includes critical fixes to the Affordable Care Act – a boost in subsidies for private insurance and free coverage options for low-income people in states that refused to expand Medicaid. But those features only last three years, and it’s even less likely Republicans would renew them, which could cause millions to lose coverage or see their premiums spike.
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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today
8 points: Republican Glenn Youngkin’s lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe among likely voters in a new Fox News poll of Virginia’s gubernatorial election.
$450,000: The amount the U.S. is reportedly considering paying people who were separated from their families at the border during the Trump administration.
57 percent: The decline in new Covid cases in America since Sept. 13, per NBC news data, from about 166,000 daily new cases to about 70,000.
96 percent: The portion of active-duty airmen who are at least partially vaccinated for Covid ahead of a Nov. 2 deadline.
45,833,987: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 76,735 more since yesterday morning.)
746,744: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,770 more since yesterday morning.)
57.6 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.
69.2 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.
Listening to voters in New Jersey
Don’t forget: New Jersey ALSO holds its race for governor on Tuesday. And NBC News Now was in the Garden State, listening to voters’ opinions about the Gov. Phil Murphy (D) vs. Jack Ciattarelli (R) contest.
Here’s the dispatch from NBC’s Emma Barnett:
Amy Otte, a small business owner in Ocean County, N.J., told NBC News NOW she supported Ciattarelli because her “business was disrupted by the mandates.” Anne Hammil-Pasqua also is throwing her support behind Ciattarelli because she wants to “have families make decisions about schools,” echoing the tension surrounding Critical Race Theory in school boards across America.
Another area of concern for voters is abortion. Vahini Shori, a student at Rutgers, is voting for Murphy because “he's committed himself to protecting reproductive justice in New Jersey.” Melissa Reed, who attended a recent Murphy rally, said Murphy has done a great job “fighting for climate change and communities of color.”
New Jersey is considered a Democratic stronghold. But the gubernatorial race, which happens a year after the presidential election, is often viewed as a referendum on the sitting president. The last time the incumbent president’s party also won the New Jersey governor’s race was in 1985, when Republican Thomas Kean got re-elected in the middle of the Reagan era. If Murphy wins this race, he will break that streak and become the first Democratic incumbent to win re-election in the Garden state since Brendan Byrne in 1977.
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
Former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was charged Thursday with a misdemeanor sex crime, forcible touching.
Facebook announced that its corporate umbrella company will be called Meta.
During a sentencing at Fort Meade, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner described his abuse at a CIA black site in graphic detail.
ProPublica has new information about the insider trading allegations surrounding North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr.