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Joe Biden to meet Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on roughly $ 3.5 trillion bill

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks with reporters as he leaves the United States Capitol after a Senate vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, the United States, June 10, 2021.

Evelyne Hockstein | Reuters

President Joe Biden will meet the senses on Wednesday. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as he tries to get skeptical Democrats to back his sprawling $ 3.5 trillion economic plan.

The president will speak separately to centrists Manchin and Sinema, who represent West Virginia and Arizona, respectively. Both lawmakers criticized the proposed $ 3.5 trillion price tag and Manchin called on party leaders to delay votes on the legislation.

The meetings come at a pivotal time for a program that Democrats say will offer a lifeline to households and hamper Republicans’ efforts to take control of Congress next year. Party leaders gave congressional committees a deadline on Wednesday to draft their parts of the bill, and they hope to send it to Biden’s office in the coming weeks.

Democrats must navigate a political maze before they can make what they call the biggest social safety net investment in decades. While the party doesn’t need a GOP vote to pass the bill through budget reconciliation, a single Democratic defection can sink it in the Senate, giving Manchin and Sinema considerable leverage in shaping the plan.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Can only lose three votes in her caucus and pass the legislation. It must balance the often competing interests of the centrists who distrust the $ 3.5 trillion in spending and the progressives who see the sum as a minimum investment.

The success of the plan has huge stakes for Biden, who has seen his approval ratings drop amid a chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a resurgence of the coronavirus fueled by the delta variant. The president has presented his economic plan as a shock to the working class and a late effort to mitigate climate change.

“Yes, we are facing a crisis, but we are facing a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create the good jobs of the future, to create the industries of the future, to win the future, to save the planet”, a- he said Tuesday in Colorado.

The bill aims to expand child care and paid leave, create a universal pre-kindergarten, make community colleges free, and increase public health care coverage. It would also encourage the adoption of green energy and the construction of energy-efficient and weather-resistant infrastructure through tax credits and other incentives.

To pay for the legislation, Democrats plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest people. A framework presented to the House proposed a top corporate tax rate of 26.5%, a top personal tax rate of 39.6% and a 3% surtax on personal income over $ 5 million.

Comments by Manchin and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. In recent days have highlighted the ideological chasm Democrats must overcome to pass the plan. Manchin would support a bill that costs up to $ 1.5 trillion.

Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said on Sunday that the price was “absolutely not acceptable to me” or to Biden.

Asked Tuesday about Sanders’ insistence that the bill will cost $ 3.5 trillion, Manchin told reporters: “God bless him, that’s all I can say.”

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