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Biden Admin Announces Reconciliation Framework in Last-Ditch Effort to Unite Caucus ahead of Foreign Trip

President Joe Biden campaigns for Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe at a rally in Arlington, Va., October 26, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Biden administration has announced a revised framework for the reconciliation package, which the president will unveil on Capitol Hill Thursday after meeting privately with House Democrats, multiple outlets reported.

The framework will cost $1.75 trillion, down from Biden’s initial $3.5 trillion proposal. Included in the new plan are universal preschool, tax credits and investments for clean energy infrastructure, a one-year extension of the current expanded child tax credit, and a provision allowing Medicare to cover hearing services.

Several of Biden’s initial proposals were dropped from the new framework, such as free community college, Medicare coverage for vision and dental services, and paid family leave.

The new package comes as House Democratic leadership attempts to schedule a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that failed to make it across the finish line in August. Biden’s trip to the Hill to announce the reconciliation framework is intended to reassure hesitant progressives who have refused to vote on the infrastructure bill until they’re confident reconciliation will pass.

However, Biden’s visit may not be enough to persuade holdouts such as House Progressive Caucus head Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) and fellow progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who have said they will not vote in favor of the infrastructure bill based on a reconciliation framework alone and will instead need to see the final language, which is not yet available.

“The President will speak to the House Democratic Caucus this morning to provide an update about the Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal,” a White House official told CNN. “Before departing for his foreign trip, he will return to the White House and speak to the American people about the path forward for his economic agenda and the next steps to getting it done.”

Biden told Democrats last week that the reconciliation package could cost between $1.75 and $1.9 trillion. However, congressional Democrats still have not come to an agreement on the central components of the deal.

Several of Biden’s proposals for the reconciliation package met opposition from Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). At a CNN town hall last week, Biden said said an expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing services was opposed by Manchin. Biden added that Sinema opposes tax hikes the administration initially sought in order to pay for the package.

The infrastructure bill’s passage would give Biden more leverage heading into an international climate summit in Scotland this week, where he could boast about the $500 billion the bill allocates toward addressing climate change. The bill’s passage would also give a boost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe ahead of Tuesday’s Virginia gubernatorial election.

Editor’s note: This article was updated with details of the Biden administration’s new framework for the reconciliation package.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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