Biden says ‘big chunks’ of his spending bill could still succeed, including climate plan

President Joe Biden said Wednesday the climate and child care provisions in his domestic spending agenda could still become law this year, even as the larger plan has stalled in the Senate over other items that Biden conceded may not pass — such as an expanded child tax credit.

In a nearly two-hour news conference, the president conceded his so-called Build Back Better bill would not pass the Senate in its entirety, though “big chunks” could still pass this year.

Two key Democratic holdouts in the evenly divided Senate, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, supported many of the individual pieces in the massive bill, Biden said.

“It’s clear to me that we’re going to have to probably break it up,” Biden said. “I know that the two people who opposed, on the Democratic side at least, support a number of things that are in there.”

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, come back and fight for the rest later,” he said.

Manchin appeared to deal a fatal blow to the $1.85 trillion package late last year when he said in a Fox News appearance he could not support the measure in its entirety.

Democrats in the 50-50 Senate planned to use a legislative procedure known as budget reconciliation to pass the bill with a simple majority but needed all their members to support it.

Still, more than $500 billion in climate spending and tax breaks, including clean energy tax credits and consumer tax breaks for electric vehicles, proposed in the package have the support to pass the Senate, Biden said.

And Manchin “strongly supports” the child care funding in the package, he added.

But Biden said two other priorities would likely have to be dropped: an extension of the expanded child tax credit and boosted funding for community colleges.

“There’s two really big components that I feel strongly about that I’m not sure I can get in,” Biden said. “They are massive things that I’ve run on, that I care a great deal about, and I’m going to keep coming back at.”

The child tax credit that Congress passed as a temporary COVID-19 relief measure provided $3,600 per year for children younger than 6 and $3,000 per year for older children, up from $2,000 before the pandemic. The spending bill would have extended that enhancement, which instead expired at the end of 2021.

An early White House proposal would have provided two years of free community college. That measure was removed from the House-passed version of the bill, which still provided $1.2 billion in funding for community college programs.

There is no clear Senate procedure to pass individual components of the bill.

To work around the normal 60-vote threshold to advance legislation, Democrats began the budget reconciliation process that is allowed once per fiscal year. Democrats would have to restart that process for a smaller package, or win 10 Republican votes.

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NC Republicans vote to push back primary date over Democrats’ objections

Republicans voted to delay the 2022 primaries until June 7, giving them more time to redraw new congressional and legislative districts if the state’s highest court decides their plans are unconstitutional.

House bill 605 sped through the legislature in one day and is on its way to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. The bill establishes July 26 as the primary runoff date. The candidate filing period would run from March 24 to April 1.

The state Supreme Court had already pushed primaries from March to May 17 to make time for a trial and appeal over GOP redistricting plans.

Democratic legislators said Wednesday that the Republican move to make another date change was premature.

“This bill is coming too soon,” Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, said at a committee meeting Wednesday.  “I’m confused about why we’re trying to get ahead of the court in this way.”

The state Senate passed the bill on a 26-17 party-line vote. Vote in the House was 69-50, with all Republicans voting for it and Democrats opposed.

Republican legislators are being sued over their maps for new congressional and legislative districts. Challengers say the maps are extreme partisan gerrymanders that lock in Republican majorities for the next decade and dilute the power of Black voters. The challengers lost in trial court last week. A three-judge panel said the districts are gerrymandered to Republicans’ advantage, but they are not unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court will hear the case on Feb. 2.

Republican Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton said the state Board of Elections needs more time to prepare for primaries and potential candidates need more time to make decisions about running, even if the Supreme Court upholds the districts.

If the court orders new maps, state law gives legislators two weeks to comply.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s office was less than enthusiastic about the Republicans’ proposed date change.

“The three-judge panel during the trial has already found as fact that the maps drawn by Republicans are intentional, partisan gerrymanders,” Cooper spokesman Jordan Monaghan said in a statement.  The Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of these districts and legislators should avoid additional attempts to undermine the voting process.”

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