Democrats race to reach budget deal

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 8:05 PM ET, Thu October 28, 2021
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1:05 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

About 102 million Americans left without paid family leave in new framework

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco

Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images
Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of Americans were set to gain paid family and sick leave before President Biden’s proposal to create a federal standard benefit was dropped from his sweeping social safety net package.

About 102 million Americans, or about 77% of workers, don’t currently have access to paid family leave that allows them to take paid time off after becoming a new parent or caring for a seriously ill family member, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 29 million people, about 21% or workers, don’t have a single paid sick leave, according to the data.

“The consequences of the loss of this policy at the federal level will disproportionately fall on low-wage workers and women of color who are least likely to have any time off at all,” said Sherry Leiwant, cofounder of the nonprofit A Better Balance that works to advance justice for workers, in a statement.

The paid leave plan’s survival had been in question for several days due to objections from Sen. Joe Manchin, key moderate Democrat from West Virginia. Biden's initial 12-week proposal was scaled back to four weeks in an effort to secure Manchin's support, but it was left completely out of a new framework announced by Biden Thursday.

More background: The United States currently has no federal paid family or sick leave benefit, making it an outlier among developed countries. It is the only nation that does not offer some paid leave to new mothers among the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In the absence of a federal mandate, many private employers as well as six states and Washington, DC, offer paid family and sick leave. Three more states have passed laws to establish these benefits and are planning to start paying them out over the next few years.

12:36 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Biden: "Let's get this done" 

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden closed his White House remarks by urging Congress to pass both his economic agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

"Given half a chance, the American people have never ever ever ever let the country down, so let's get this done," Biden said, while making a final push for the scaled back framework and the bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of his overseas trip to Europe.

"These bills continue cutting taxes for middle class, for child care, for health care, so much more. Let me close with this. For much too long, working people in this nation in the middle class of this country, have been dealt out of the American deal. It's time to deal them back in," he said.

The President noted how both bills are a cornerstone of what he campaigned on and what people voted him into office for.

Biden continued, "I ran for President saying it was time to reduce the burden on the middle class, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, working people and the middle class. I couldn't have been any clearer from the very moment I announced my candidacy. That's why I wrote these bills in the first place and took them to the people. I campaigned on them, and the American penal spoke. This agenda, the agenda that's in these bills is what 81 million Americans voted for. More people voted than at any time in American history. That's what they voted for. Their voices deserve to be heard or denied or worst ignored," the President said.

These bills "are about betting on America, about believing in America, about believing in the capacity of the American people. If you look at history of the journey of this nation, what becomes crystal clear is this. I'll say it again. Given half a chance, the American people have never ever, ever, ever left the country down, so let's get this done," Biden said.

More background: Despite Biden touting the framework, there is no guarantee Democrats pass the social safety net or the physical infrastructure packages as moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema haven’t explicitly committed to backing the plan and House progressives have made clear they do not want to vote for the infrastructure bill unless the larger bill moves in tandem, and have said a framework is not enough to win their votes.

The President outlined the various investments contained in the framework of his “Build Back Better” agenda, including expanding services for seniors, childcare, expanding the child tax credit, investments in higher education and investments to combat the climate crisis.

He also stressed talking points he has been making for months when pitching these plans, noting the packages are fully paid for, wont raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year and will reduce the deficit.

CNN's Jason Hoffman contributed reporting to this post.

12:33 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Obama calls on Democrats to support Biden's proposed framework

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Former President Obama is adding his voice to this critical moment for the Biden administration, saying in a statement: “The fight continues, but today’s landmark agreement is an important step on our long journey to live up to our highest ideals.”

The statement continues:

"The Build Back Better framework doesn’t contain everything that the President proposed and that some had hoped. But that’s the nature of progress in a democracy. The good news is that it represents the best chance we’ve had in years to build on the progress we made during my administration and address some of the most urgent challenges of our time. I’m grateful to President Biden, Democrats in Congress, and everyone who has raised their voice and put their faith in government to do big things."

1:43 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Here's what's in and what's out in President Biden's new $1.75 trillion economic plan

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

President Biden just wrapped White House remarks where he called for support for his newly released framework for a $1.75 trillion social spending plan, and it is significantly smaller than the Democrats’ initial sweeping proposal.

It would still be transformative, though it remains to be seen whether Democrats can agree to move it forward.

Here’s what’s in:

  • Universal Pre-K: Provide free Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. The plan would expand access to 6 million children a year.
  • Child care: Limiting child care costs for families to no more than 7% of income for those earning up to 250% of state median income, expanding access to about 20 million children. Funding would last six years.
  • Enhanced child tax credit: The beefed up credit — which provides $300 a month for each child under age 6 and $250 a month for each one ages 6 through 17 — would be extended through 2022 for more than 35 million families. Households earning up to $150,000 annually would qualify for the enhanced payments. The credit would be made permanently refundable so the lowest income families would continue to qualify. The enhancement, which was part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Democrats enacted earlier this year, is currently only in place for this year.
  • Earned income tax credit: The expanded earned income tax credit for 17 million low-wage childless workers would be extended through 2022. The boost, also part of the relief package, is only in place for this year. It nearly triples the maximum credit childless workers can receive, extends eligibility to more people, reduces the minimum age and eliminates the upper age limit. 
  • Home health care: The framework calls for permanently improving Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities, with the goal of reducing extensive waiting lists. It also aims to improve the quality of caregiving jobs.

The child and pre-school provisions would cost $400 billion, while the tax credits would total $200 billion. The home health care measures would cost $150 billion.

  • Affordable Care Act subsidies: The enhanced federal premium subsidies would be extended through 2025. It would reduce the cost of coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, particularly for moderate-income and middle-class Americans. The boost, also part of the Democrats’ relief package, is set to expire after 2022.
  • Medicaid expansion: The framework calls for providing Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for low-income Americans in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid, enabling them to buy Obamacare policies with no monthly premiums. It would not create a federal Medicaid expansion program.
  • Medicare hearing benefits: Hearing services would be covered under Medicare.

The Affordable Care Act subsidies and Medicaid provisions would total $130 billion, while hearing benefits would cost $35 billion.

  • Climate change: Biden’s framework would deliver $555 billion in tax credits and investments aimed at combatting climate change. It would offer tax credits to families that install solar rooftops or buy electric vehicles, for example. The investments are aimed at providing incentives to grow domestic supply chains in solar and wind industries. The package also calls for creating 300,000 jobs by establishing a Civilian Climate Corps that works to conserve public lands and bolster community resiliency.

Other provisions that would address housing, nutrition, higher education and equity, as well as other investments, would cost $280 billion.

Here's what’s out:

  • Free community college: Biden initially called for making tuition free for two years at community colleges but it’s been dropped entirely from the package. It could still include an expansion of Pell grants for low-income students.
  • Paid family and sick leave: Biden also wanted to create a federally-funded paid family and sick leave program for the millions of Americans who don’t already receive the benefit from their employer. He first called for 12 weeks of paid leave, which got reduced to 4 weeks during negotiations. But even the scaled back version was left out completely from the framework. 
  • Medicare dental and vision benefits: The proposal does not include expanding Medicare to include vision and dental coverage, both longtime goals of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Dental coverage, in particular, would have added several hundred billion dollars to the cost of the bill.
  • Medicare drug negotiation: The President also dropped a controversial provision to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices amid opposition from some Democrats. It would have offset $700 billion in spending. 
  • State and local tax deduction: It's critical to some Democrats that the package lifts or repeals the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT, that was put in place by the Republican-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. But the framework makes no mention of it.

Read more about the framework here.

12:10 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Biden: The bills are about "competitiveness versus complacency"

In making his case for his infrastructure and spending bills, President Biden said they will help America reclaim its position as a world leader and compete in the 21st century.

"This is about competitiveness versus complacency," he said Thursday in White House remarks.

"These are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another. This is about competitiveness versus complacency. ... It's about leading the world or letting the world pass us by.

Biden spoke about America's leading position for "most of the 20th century," saying it was because the country invested in its people and families, and not just roads and highways and bridges."

While the country still has the most productive and innovative minds, he said, it risks losing its edge, citing the country's slipping rank in global indexes for development and investment in childhood education and care.

"We can't be competitive in the 21st century global economy if we continue to slide. That's why I've said all along: we need to build America up from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down, with the trickle-down economics that's always failed us," he added. "I can't think of a single time when the middle class has done well and the wealthy haven't done very well. I can think of many times, including now, when the wealthy and super wealthy do very well and the middle class don't do well."
12:01 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Biden calls framework "historic," but acknowledges "no one got everything they wanted, including me"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden made the case for his $1.75 trillion social agenda package, calling the economic framework "historic" during remarks from the White House.

"After months of tough and thoughtful negotiations I think we have an historic — I know we have an historic economic framework. It's a framework that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, put us on a path not only to compete but to win the economic competition for the 21st century against China and every other major country in the world," the President said.

Biden noted that the framework is not only "fully paid for" but also "17 Nobel prize winners in economics said it will lower the inflationary pressures on the economy. Over the next 10 years, it will not add to the deficit at all. It will actually reduce the deficit, according to the economists."

The President also explained how the current framework is a result of significant compromise.

"I want to thank my colleagues in the Congress for their leadership. We spent hours and hours over months and months working on this. No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that's what compromise is. That's consensus. And that's what I ran on," he said.

"I've long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy, important things done for country. I know it's hard. I know how deeply feel feel about the things they fight for. But this framework includes historic investments in our nation and in our people," Biden explained.

12:05 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Sanders says framework is "major step" but wants "to see it improved" 

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Sen. Bernie Sanders called the newly released Build Back Better framework the “most consequential bill since the 1960s," but said clearly to him it has some “major gaps in it.”

The gaps, he said, include no language for lowering prescription drug prices, which is a “major problem,” as well as no expansion of Medicare for dental and vision. Sanders noted that he is “glad” they could get hearing aids covered.

He said before the House votes on the bill he thinks members should have legislative text and “a right to know that 50 US senators are supporting” it.

“I think what we have to do now was first of all, make sure that before the vote takes place in the House, to make sure that there is a very explicit legislative language and second of all that we continue to do our best to make this good bill even stronger,” Sanders said.

“Members of the House in my view are going to have to an assurance… I support the infrastructure bill, but I want to see a strong Build Back Better bill as well. And they are linked, together. So what you don't want to see is the infrastructure bill passed, and then not have the kind of Build Back Better that we need. And that’s why you need 50 members on board before there should be a vote, in my view, in the House” he added. 

12:38 p.m. ET, October 28, 2021

NOW: Biden speaks about fate of his economic agenda before trip to Europe

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden is delivering remarks now from the White House on the future of his bipartisan infrastructure bill and wider spending bill.

"Today I'm pleased to announce after months of tough and thoughtful negotiations I think we have an historic — I know we have an historic economic framework," Biden said.

Biden attended a Democratic caucus meeting this morning to lay out the framework of his plan. He's trying to convince progressives who are skeptical of anything short of a fully written bill.

The President is set to depart soon on his second foreign trip as President for the G20 Leaders' summit and climate talks at the COP26 summit.

11:40 a.m. ET, October 28, 2021

Manchin won't say if he supports Biden's proposed framework

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic moderate, was non-committal about whether he will support the framework agreement that was announced this morning by President Biden.

As he walked on the Senate floor for a vote, he said it’s “in the hands of the House. I’ve been dealing in good faith and will continue to deal in good faith.” 

CNN pressed if that means he supports the package. 

He looked back at CNN's Ted Barrett, pointed at his head and said, “You’ve got two ears. Listen.”

These are his first public comments reacting to the framework.