President Joe Biden and Democrats are nearing an agreement to cut free community college from his Build Back Better plan and slash the price tag of the overall package, CNN reports.
Biden, who proposed a $3.5 trillion package, is now discussing a price tag worth between $1.75 to $1.9 trillion to appease West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who countered with a $1.5 trillion offer.
Democrats are now negotiating whether to keep as many of their priorities in the bill as possible while shortening the length of time they run to reduce their cost or cut programs from the bill while keeping the length of funding as is.
After weeks of stalled negotiations and intraparty bickering, the White House, Manchin, and progressives sound optimistic that they will reach a deal by the end of the month.
While most of the negotiations have been focused on Manchin’s demands, however, it is unclear if negotiators will be able to win over holdout Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who along with the price tag balked at proposals to lower prescription drug costs and raise corporate and top marginal tax rates to raise revenue to cover the cost of the other programs.
Community college axed:
Biden’s free community college proposal is out of the bill, Democrats say.
Biden promoted the proposal on the campaign trail while progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren pushed to go further and provide four years of tuition-free college.
"I don't know that I can get it done, but I also have proposed free community college, like you've done here in the state of Connecticut, to help students from lower-income families attend community college (and) four-year schools,” Biden said last week.
Former President Barack Obama also unsuccessfully pushed for tuition-free community college.
Progressive Rep. Ro Khanna said the measure could be replaced with “community college scholarships.”
More programs axed:
The bill is also expected to cap the income of parents eligible to receive the expanded Child Tax Credit. The CTC, which provides up to $300 per child per month, would only be extended by a year under the current proposal.
Biden also told lawmakers that funding for home care for the elderly and disabled would be cut from $400 billion to less than $250 billion.
Biden told progressives that the proposed paid family leave measure would provide four weeks of leave rather than 12.
Biden said that he plans to keep the proposed Medicare expansion but several key climate proposals are expected to be cut.