There’s also the possibility that some provisions in BBB could be off-loaded into the spending bill, including an immigration proposal to, at the very least, deal with a massive green-card backlog, if not addressing the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. Democrats have been trying to get the fix for Dreamers in BBB, only to be stymied by Senate procedure and the Parliamentarian. With 48 Democrats feisty enough to join in on reforming the filibuster, there’s a tiny glimmer of hope among activists that they’ll say the hell with the Parliamentarian and pass the larger immigration reform anyway. That’s a long shot, but watch that space.
Back to BBB and what provisions could be moved to the spending bill: pandemic preparedness; a permanent fix for chronic Medicaid shortfalls for U.S. territories; funding to increase labor law enforcement; renewal of an excise tax that pays for black lung disease care for coal miners; and a $100 million boost in a security grant program to help nonprofit organizations—included places of worship—that are at high risk of terrorist attacks; drug pricing measures including allowing the government to negotiate.
The biggest fight is going to be salvaging the Child Tax Credit payments, and it’s going to be with Manchin. Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown told Bloomberg TV he will “fight like hell” for it. “It lifted 40% of kids out of poverty,” Brown said. “It’s relieved so much anxiety for so many working-class and middle-class families and poor families.”
Finance Chairman Ron Wyden says he’s not going to drop it. “The child tax credit is even more important now, because it’s a tangible benefit that people get when they’re dealing with extra expenses as a result of the new variant,” he said. His counterpart in the House, Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, agreed. “The child credit is very popular in the Democratic caucus,” Neal said on Thursday. “I am certainly not ready to throw in the towel on it.”
They just have to get Manchin nailed down on what he will support. That could potentially include a cap on who gets the monthly payments. Democrats are going to fight like hell against Manchin’s insistence that there be work requirements and that people who make too little to have to file taxes be ineligible. At least that appears to be what Manchin was arguing for in his recent garbled comments on the issue.
“The approach that will work is coming up with a bill that will get Senator Manchin’s support and that’s what we are working on,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said Thursday. What Manchin will agree to will still have to work for House Democrats—Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a margin of just four votes now.
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