CNN town hall with President Biden

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:29 a.m. ET, October 25, 2021
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8:40 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Biden just laid out new specifics of the spending plan. Here's what's in it.

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden speaks during CNN's Presidential Town Hall in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21.
President Joe Biden speaks during CNN's Presidential Town Hall in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21. (Heather Fulbright/CNN)

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.

9:42 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Biden connects with audience member caring for elderly parents

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

President Biden leaned on his empathy and human connections when answering an early CNN town hall question.

As an audience member detailed her challenges caring for two elderly and ill parents, Biden began by saying, "If my mom were here she would say you are a good daughter."

As for the issue itself — middle-class families bearing the responsibility of caring for seniors — the President detailed his plan: "What we do is we provide the funding for Medicaid to allow you to be able to ... get help in your home, with home care professionals ... helping you take care of them."

Additionally, Biden noted the ways in which the plan would strengthen underserved communities.

"We're going to be able to train up those home care workers who are usually of minority women, women of color, as well as immigrants. They have the capacity to learn more as they go along," said Biden, adding "it makes a lot of sense, and it's cheaper... than it is to not do it."

Watch the moment:

8:58 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Biden to corporations: "Pay your fair share" of taxes

(CNN)
(CNN)

President Biden said that it's time for corporations to "pay your fair share" while discussing tax rates during the town hall.

He said that currently, the US is "in a circumstance where corporate America is not paying their fair share," adding, "I come from the corporate state of the world: Delaware." 

Biden continued: "More corporations in Delaware than every other state in the union combined. Okay? Now, here's the deal, though. You have 55 corporations, for example, in the United States of America making over $40 billion, don't pay a cent. Not a single little red cent. Now, I don't care — I'm a capitalist. I hope you can be a millionaire or billionaire. But at least pay your fair share. Chip in a little bit." 

Biden said that corporate leaders know "they should be paying a little more" in taxes.

"The tax rate, the corporate tax rate was 35 point -- 37%. Barack and I thought it should come down. We thought it should come down to 28%. In the process, it came down to 21% under Trump. Which even the corporate leaders, and you know if you're in real estate, major real estate, ask them. They know they should be paying a little more than 21% because the idea that if you're a school teacher and a firefighter you're paying at a higher tax rate than they are as a percentage of your taxes." 
Watch the moment:
8:27 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Biden: "I do think I'll get a deal" on key spending proposals

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

President Biden this evening expressed optimism on two key spending proposals in Congress suggesting he believes lawmakers in a divided Congress are nearing an agreement.

"I do think I'll get a deal," he said, when asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper if he thinks he will.

Biden also urged lawmakers to focus on compromise on the two pieces of legislation which together contain much of his domestic agenda.

"It's all about compromise," said Biden. "You know, compromise has become a dirty word, but ... bipartisanship and compromise still has to be possible."

The President went on to address those who may doubt whether he will be able to push such ambitious legislation across the finish line, saying it is at the very heart of why he ran for President.

"Everybody's been saying, well, 'that's crazy, you can't do it,'" he said. "If we can't eventually in this country we're in deep trouble."

Biden has spent months delivering speeches across the country trying to sell the public on his infrastructure plans. This week, Biden is meeting with lawmakers to negotiate both aspects of his infrastructure proposals — a sweeping economic package to expand the social safety net and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

There is still significant work to be done and the critical holdouts — Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — still have not signed onto the plan, officials say.

Watch the moment:

8:18 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

President Biden says the assault weapons ban was the toughest deal he ever worked on

(CNN)
(CNN)

Anderson Cooper opened the town hall by asking President Biden how close he is to a deal on his signature legislation, the "Build Back Better" plan.

Biden quipped, "No Problem. All done."

The President then outlined what is in the legislation, calling it "a big deal."

"This is a big deal. We have two plans. One is the infrastructure plan — roads, highway, bridges, buses, trains, etc. And the other one is what I call the care economy. It has a lot of money in there for environmental remediation as well as care economy. For example, you know, we want to get the economy moving but millions of women can't go to work because they don't have any child care. That kind of thing. So there's a lot of pieces in there. There's a lot that people don't understand. And by the way, all this paid for. Every single penny."

Asked if it was the toughest deal he's ever worked on, the President said that passing the assault weapons ban when he was in the Senate was tougher.

"I think banning assault weapons is the toughest deal I worked on. And succeeded."

The President said that he does believe that "I'll get a deal" on his plan.

Watch the moment:

8:06 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Where things stand on Biden's domestic agenda

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

Tonight's town hall kicked off with questions about President Biden's domestic agenda.

Democrats in Congress are currently negotiating a sweeping budget reconciliation package that is the centerpiece of President Biden's domestic plan.

The 10-year spending plan, originally priced at $3.5 trillion, marks the biggest step in the Democrats' drive to expand education, health care and child care support, as well as tackling the climate crisis and making further investments in infrastructure. But it has also raised concerns among moderate Democrats in both chambers who worry some of the elements of the package go too far and are too costly.

With only narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress, Democrats are under pressure to finalize the package, which party leaders have pledged to move in tandem with a separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill that's already been approved by the Senate and is waiting for a vote in the House before it can be signed by Biden.

Unlike the Democrats' infrastructure package, the budget plan is unlikely to gain bipartisan backing — but under Senate rules it can be passed with 50 Democratic votes alone. GOP lawmakers have lashed out at the size of the package and multiple provisions the Democrats are considering.

After weeks of back-and-forth, Biden laid out details of a scaled back version of the plan, bringing the top line number down to roughly $1.9 trillion from $3.5 trillion and specifying that certain provisions like free community college would be left out. The legislation has yet to be finalized.

Read more about the package here.

8:54 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

The town hall has started

President Joe Biden goes to shake hands with CNN anchor and host Anderson Cooper at CNN's Presidential Town Hall in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21.
President Joe Biden goes to shake hands with CNN anchor and host Anderson Cooper at CNN's Presidential Town Hall in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21. (Heather Fulbright/CNN)

The CNN town hall with President Biden just started.

The town hall will run for 90 minutes and is being anchored by Anderson Cooper.

The event is expected to focus on a range of issues that the Biden administration is grappling with, including voting rights, coronavirus and infrastructure. The event also comes following the White House's announcement of a detailed plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11.

7:50 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Biden just arrived at the Baltimore Center Stage for the town hall

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Biden has arrived at the site of his CNN town hall in Baltimore. His motorcade pulled into the Baltimore Center Stage around 7:40 p.m. ET.

Earlier, after stepping from Marine 1, he greeted Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Rep. John Sarbanes and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

The pool said some protesters were visible from the motorcade route.

7:37 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

How you can watch the Biden town hall tonight

From CNN's Shawna Mizelle

President Biden will participate in a CNN town hall on Thursday in Baltimore, where he'll take questions as his administration continues to sell his ambitious legislative agenda to members of Congress and the nation.

The town hall will take place at a critical time for the Biden administration, as the President continues his push to sell the public on his infrastructure plans. Biden is meeting this week with lawmakers to etch out the framework of his infrastructure proposals -- a sweeping economic package to expand the social safety net and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The 90-minute event is expected to focus on a range of issues that the Biden administration is grappling with, including voting rights, coronavirus and infrastructure. The event also comes following the White House's announcement of a detailed plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11.

Here's how you can watch it:

  • The 90-minute town hall will stream live on CNN.com's homepage and across mobile devices via CNN's apps for iOS and Android with a log-in to a cable provider.
  • It can also be viewed on CNNgo (at CNN.com/go on your desktop, smartphone, and iPad, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku and Samsung Smart TV).
  • The special will also be available on demand to subscribers via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.