President Biden laid out in the most specific terms to date what will be — and what won’t be — included in a compromise budget measure that contains the bulk of his sweeping domestic agenda.
Speaking at a CNN town hall, Biden said a paid leave provision had been whittled down to four weeks, down from Biden’s goal of twelve weeks.
He said it would a “reach” to include dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare, a key priority for progressives, saying it was opposed by Sen. Joe Manchin — and that he believed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was against it as well. Instead, he said he was working to include an $800 voucher for dental coverage, and was still negotiating vision coverage.
He flatly said he was opposed to work requirements for the child tax credit, which Manchin has favored.
And he acknowledged that tuition-free community college was unlikely to make it in the final bill, saying instead an expansion of Pell grants could help drive toward expanded higher education.
“It’s not going to get us the whole thing,” he said, vowing to continue pressing his free college plan in the coming months.
The details of the plan emerged in the midst of final-stage negotiations among Democrats, who have spent weeks sparring over what to include in the large spending package.
Biden was frank in describing the power of individual senators in the ongoing talks.
“Look, in the United States Senate, when you have 50 Democrats, every one is the president,” he said.