Progressive Democrats this week issued a litany of demands for President Biden's sprawling $2.25 trillion spending package, calling on the president to go "big" and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in left-wing priorities.
A list of recommendations from the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, obtained by Politico, shows they want to focus on five main areas: The care economy, affordable housing, drug prices and expanding the public option, addressing climate change and creating a roadmap for citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
That includes $450 billion in funding for Medicaid home and community-based services and establishing universal child care, as well as paid family leave. The progressives also urged Biden to guarantee housing vouchers for many Americans and invest tens of billions into affordable housing.
"We agree that it’s time for transformative change and we look forward to working with the Biden Administration to expand on their proposal and ensure that the American Jobs Plan goes big to truly meet the needs of the public," Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told Politico.
Other steps that progressives want the Biden administration to take in the American Jobs Plan – which the president is billing as a "once-in-a-lifetime" investment in the nation's economy and infrastructure – includes a drug-pricing scheme based on the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a national clean energy standard and a pathway to citizenship for essential workers and DACA recipients.
It's unclear whether the provisions will ultimately make their way into the multi-part economic proposal. Biden unveiled the first part of the package last week that would make massive investments in the nation's roads and bridges, as well as transit systems, schools and hospitals. Biden proposed paying for the measure by raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% – reversing part of Republicans' 2017 tax cuts – and increasing the global minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21% from 13%.
The Biden administration is planning to release the second major package, which could cost upward of $1 trillion, in April. That measure, which will likely be funded by tax increases on wealthy Americans, is expected to focus on domestic issues, such as expanding health care, providing universal kindergarten, extending the child tax credit and offering paid family leave.
But the plan has drawn a swift rebuke from Republicans in addition to some members of Biden's own party, who have raised concerns that the tax increases included in the measure could derail the economy's recovery from the pandemic and hurt U.S. competitiveness abroad.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has suggested the administration should instead pay for the measure by increasing the corporate tax rate to 25% and closing loopholes used by wealthy Americans to dodge taxes.
"As this bill exists today, it needs to be changed," Manchin, one of the most powerful lawmakers in the 50-50 Senate, said during a radio interview with West Virginia MetroNews. "Bottom line is, that's what legislation is all about. This bill will not be in the same form you've seen introduced or seen people talking about."
At the same time, GOP lawmakers have slammed the measure as a "Trojan horse" that conceals significant tax hikes and spends billions on projects unrelated to infrastructure.
Unless at least 10 Republicans break with the party and support the bill, Democrats will almost certainly have to pass it using budget reconciliation, the procedural tool they used to approve Biden's coronavirus relief bill without a single GOP vote.
If that's the case, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will ultimately have the final say about whether some provisions, like creating a pathway to citizenship, have a substantial budgetary impact.