Biden’s national initiative suffers a setback


WASHINGTON – A House committee on Wednesday dealt with the disturbing first setback in President Joe Biden’s social and environmental agenda, derailing a money-saving plan to let Medicare negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee dropped its proposal for its national Biden signing initiative in a tied vote of 29-29, with three moderate Democrats joining Republicans in opposing the drug provision. The defeat underscores the power of the centrists – or any tiny group of Democrats – as Biden and party leaders try to push the package through the tightly divided Congress.

The defeat of drug pricing language hasn’t stopped Democrats from moving forward on the proposal because the House Ways and Means Committee is deliberating on nearly identical provisions.

The party is counting on the proposal, if passed, to pay for a small but significant portion of its $ 3.5 trillion 10-year plan to strengthen the safety net, climate change and other programs. Proponents say he could save $ 600 billion over the next decade.

Democratic Representatives Scott Peters of California, Kathleen Rice of New York and Kurt Schrader of Oregon opposed the section on drug prices.

Support research: The energy and trade panel vote came as Biden held face-to-face meetings on Wednesday with two moderate Democratic senators who declared the overall size of $ 3.5 trillion pro­posal is too large.

Biden met with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, and planned a subsequent session with Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. Emerging legislation is the heart of the president’s national agenda, but the centrist unrest has prompted party leaders to delicately seek out a leading figure that moderates and progressives can endorse.

Sinema spokesman John Labombard rated the senator’s White House session positively, a good sign in a process that saw progressives and moderates in the party defending conflicting claims.

Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have endorsed the $ 3.5 trillion figure, but recent days have been more hesitant about its ultimate size. The party will need each of its votes in the Senate, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie.break vote and cannot lose more than three House Democrats.

The huge package of far-ambitious and complicated policy the changes come when Democrats try to use a window when they control the White House and Congress to adopt long-sought goals. He faces unanimous opposition from Republicans, who say his proposed spending is unnecessary and would hurt the economy.

The measure’s provisions would push utilities to produce cleaner energy, expand Medicare coverage, create new child care and family leave programs, and provide a preschool and community college. free.

There would be a series of tax breaks to help families meet the costs of health care and child rearing. Much of it would be paid by raising taxes on the rich and corporate.

Committees at work: The White House meetings took place as the last of 13 House committees scrambled to complete work on their individual sections of the comprehensive bill on Wednesday.

Among these was the Ways and Means Committee. President Richard Neal, D-Mass., Proposed a revenue package that includes $ 2.1 trillion in higher taxes, mostly on the wealthy and corporations.

He also claims savings through his language on drug prices, a stricter enforcement of IRS taxes and a claim that the legislation itself triggers economic growth.

Democratic leaders would like to send full legislation to Biden for signing in the coming weeks, but many believe that resolving the political and political complications the party faces will take much longer. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday they expected Congress to propose the legislation ahead of an international climate conference in November.

Manchin has been a particularly vocal critic of the bill as a whole. He called for a “pause” on the legislation and said on Sunday he could not support $ 3.5 trillion.

He suggested a turnover of between $ 1,000 billion and $ 1,500 billion. Progressives, who initially demanded a $ 6 trillion plan, have said it would be unacceptable to narrow the package down to Manchin’s lineup.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Manchin also told colleagues he opposed a House proposal to offer subsidies to utilities that provide more electricity to from cleaner sources of energy and charging a fee to companies that fail to do so.

Asked on Wednesday whether the administration will have to reduce the plan’s climate change provisions, Psaki said the measures are “incredibly important” to Biden.

During the Ways and Means panel, Democrats propose that the top tax rate be returned to 39.6% for people earning more than $ 400,000 – or $ 450,000 for couples – in addition to a surtax. 3% on the richest Americans whose adjusted gross income exceeds $ 5 million. one year.

For large businesses, the proposal would lower the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5% on annual business income above $ 5 million.

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