Schumer Says Democrats Have ‘Framework’ to Pay for Agenda
(Bloomberg) -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the White House and congressional Democrats have agreed on a “framework” to pay for President Joe Biden’s economic plan, though there was no indication that it would resolve differences among Democrats over the sweeping tax-and-social spending package.
In brief remarks at a news conference Thursday with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Schumer declined to say whether it would accommodate the full $3.5 trillion originally proposed for the legislation.
He said later that he, Yellen, Pelosi, Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden and House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal had met to discuss ways to pay for the economic plan.
“We came to agreement on what we could support,” Schumer said. “It’s a menu of options. There will be more than enough money if you look at all of the menus -- and we’ll have to pick and choose from them -- to pay for whatever we come up in terms of how much spending there is. It’s that simple.”
Neal said the framework does not currently include stepped-up basis, a tax break that lets the richest Americans transfer much of their wealth tax-free at death, and the state and local tax deduction still has to be worked out.
There is a tentative agreement on requiring banks to report total account inflows and outflows to the tax collector at a higher level than the $600 threshold proposed by the Biden administration. An import fee for polluters also is part of the discussion, he added.
Still unresolved is whether to raise or suspend the limit on deductions for state and local taxes, or SALT.
Several Democrats said they hadn’t seen the framework, which appears to be the collection of tax proposals that already have been circulating. Democratic leaders are eager to show any progress on breaking the impasse between two Democratic factions that is threatening to stall or unravel the president’s plans. Biden summoned representatives from both the moderate and progressive wings to the White House on Wednesday to try to move negotiations along.
House moderates are demanding that Pelosi schedule a vote early next week on a separate $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill even if the larger package of up to $3.5 trillion isn’t finished. They, along with two Senate moderates -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- also have balked at the size of the Biden plan.
“We fully expect a full House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package on Monday,” said Representative Ed Case of Hawaii, who was among the group of centrists who secured Pelosi’s commitment last month on the timetable.
Progressives have warned they will vote against the infrastructure bill until the bigger package is finished with their priorities intact.
“What we need is that ironclad guarantee that we’re going to get the human infrastructure bill,” House Rules Chair James McGovern, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said on Bloomberg Radio’s “Sound On” program. “Maybe the better option is to delay the vote on Monday and give us a little bit more time. And if we get to the point we all are getting to an agreement, we all trust each other, then we can move on that and then move on the other one later.”
Pelosi said the framework doesn’t address the topline spending figure for that bill. She declined to answer additional questions after the news conference.
Democrats have for weeks floated a variety of tax increases that could be used to pay for their agenda. The House Ways and Means Committee has already approved $2.1 trillion in new levies, mostly focused on corporations and the wealthy.
Among the outstanding issues is a disagreement over Medicare drug price cuts that could leave Democrats short of $600 billion in funds to pay for the package. A possible solution floated by Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida would be to exempt climate change related provisions from a moderate Democratic demand to have the bill not add to the deficit.
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