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Biden Open to Cut Plan Length 10/16 06:32

   President Joe Biden says he would prefer to cut the duration of programs in 
his big social services and climate change package rather than eliminate some 
entirely, as Democrats struggle to win support from moderates by trimming what 
had been a $3.5 trillion proposal.

   HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- President Joe Biden says he would prefer to cut the 
duration of programs in his big social services and climate change package 
rather than eliminate some entirely, as Democrats struggle to win support from 
moderates by trimming what had been a $3.5 trillion proposal.

   Biden's comments on Friday, reassuring progressives on what he hopes will be 
a landmark piece of his legacy, marked his clearest indication yet on how he 
hopes negotiations over the bill will play out. Appearing to side with a 
strategy preferred by progressive lawmakers, it marked at least a subtle break 
with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has suggested that most Democrats prefer 
to focus on establishing a few enduring programs.

   He also said there is no deadline for a deal.

   "I'm of the view that it's important to establish the principle on a whole 
range of issues without guaranteeing to get the whole 10 years," Biden told 
reporters before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington from a trip to 
Connecticut. "It matters to establish it."

   "So what happens is, you pass the principle and you build on it," he added. 
"You look back and either it works or it doesn't work."

   Pelosi, however, in a Monday note to fellow Democratic lawmakers, said, 
"Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from members is to do fewer things 
well."

   Biden said Friday that although he expects the package to shrink, "we're 
going to come back and get the rest" after it's passed.

   "We're not going to get $3.5 trillion. We'll get less than that, but we're 
gonna get it. And we're going to come back and get the rest," Biden said during 
remarks at a child care center in Connecticut.

   Democrats on Capitol Hill are working to reduce the sweeping package to 
about $2 trillion in spending, which would be paid for with higher taxes on 
corporations and the wealthy. The proposal includes everything from free child 
care and community college to dental, vision and hearing aid benefits for 
seniors and a number of significant provisions meant to combat climate change. 
They're all key items for progressives, but moderates have balked at the 
original $3.5 trillion price tag.

   One almost certain reduction would be in the proposal for free community 
college.

   "I doubt whether we will get the entire funding for community colleges but 
I'm not going to give up on community colleges as long as I'm president," Biden 
said. His wife, Jill, is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community 
College.

   With slim margins in the House and the Senate, Democrats have no votes to 
spare on the bill. The whittling process has sparked concern from some 
progressives.

   The party's internal debate was apparent as Senate Budget Committee Chairman 
Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote an opinion column for a West Virginia newspaper 
calling out that state's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin by name for blocking the 
domestic package so far.

   Sanders named Manchin as one of only two Democratic senators who "remain in 
opposition" to the measure, thwarting the unanimous support the party needs in 
the 50-50 Senate to approve the still-evolving legislation.

   "This is a pivotal moment in modern American history. We now have a historic 
opportunity to support the working families of West Virginia, Vermont and the 
entire country and create policy which works for all, not just the few," 
Sanders wrote in a piece scheduled to appear in Sunday's Charleston 
Gazette-Mail.

   Manchin shot back in a statement late Friday, saying: "It isn't the first 
time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them."

   It's highly unusual for a senator to publicly criticize a colleague of the 
same party, particularly by wading into the other lawmaker's state.

   Manchin has proposed holding the measure's overall 10-year cost to $1.5 
trillion and has said he wants to limit some health care initiatives to benefit 
only lower-earning people.

   Sanders and Manchin stand, respectively, as among the Democrats' most 
progressive and conservative senators.

   Biden has openly acknowledged the price tag of his package will have to come 
down. On Friday, he visited a child development center in Hartford to speak 
about a need for investments in child care and other social safety net 
programs, arguing they're imperative to keep America competitive in the global 
economy.

   At the center, Biden promoted his proposal to make such care free for 
lower-income families, and ensure that families making up to 150% of their 
state's median income pay less than 7% of their salaries on child care. It's 
part of a massive expansion of the social safety net that Biden has championed 
and is aiming to pass with just Democratic votes in Congress.

   "Too many folks in Washington still don't realize it isn't enough just to 
invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people," 
he said.

   Biden briefly greeted some of the children at the center's playground, at 
one point kneeling to give a child a hug.

   The president's sales pitch comes as his Democratic allies have raised 
concerns that the American public does not understand the benefits of his 
package. There is renewed urgency among Democrats to push it through ahead of 
an end-of-month deadline on transportation funding, Biden's upcoming foreign 
trip, and a closer-than-anticipated race for Virginia's next governor.

   The fate of the legislation, branded "Build Back Better" by Biden, is also 
holding up a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed 
the Senate this summer. House progressives are balking at supporting that 
roads-and-bridges bill until agreement is reached on a path forward for the 
social safety net package.

   In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Terry McAuliffe, the 
Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, criticized Democrats including 
Biden over the lack of progress.

   "They all got to get their act together and vote," McAuliffe said. Asked 
specifically if he was calling out Biden, McAuliffe said, "I put everybody 
there." McAuliffe is in a tight race with Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin in 
a state Biden carried by 10 points last fall.

   Biden also delivered remarks later at the dedication of the Dodd Center for 
Human Rights at the University of Connecticut, which is being renamed to honor 
a longtime friend, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, and Dodd's father, also 
a former senator.

 
 
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