ROUNDUP: US House of Representatives approves Biden’s major social and climate package
A street with row houses (symbol picture). pixabay.com
(Biden’s reaction added)
WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – After an extremely long hanging game, the US House of Representatives has decided on another core domestic political project by President Joe Biden. The Congress Chamber passed a trillion dollar package with investments in social and climate protection on Friday with a narrow majority of the Democrats. The approval of the second Chamber of Congress, the US Senate, is still pending. It is questionable whether the more than 2000-page legislative package will get through there in the same way. There should still be changes.
The vote in the House of Representatives is still an essential step for Biden. The president had negotiated personally with party colleagues for months in order to overcome resistance in his own ranks to his investment plans, to reconcile different positions of the party wings and to organize a majority in Congress. At least he succeeded in doing that in the House of Representatives.
Biden said the successful vote was “another giant step forward” in implementing his plan to strengthen and modernize the US economy. The project creates jobs, makes the US more competitive and helps the middle class. Biden said he was hoping for a quick Senate pass.
Originally, Biden had targeted an investment package for social and climate in the amount of 3.5 trillion dollars (dollar exchange rate) (just under 3.1 trillion euros). Moderate Democrats, however, resisted such high spending and forced the president to abandon parts of his plans in the tough negotiations. He finally cut the package by half to 1.75 trillion US dollars (1.54 trillion euros). There were again additions in the House of Representatives.
How the final version will look is the subject of negotiations in the Senate, where the Democrats only have a wafer-thin majority and cannot allow themselves a single deviator from within their own ranks. However, individual Democratic senators have indicated that there is still a need for discussion, above all Joe Manchin from West Virginia.
Among other things, the package provides for the – so far sometimes extremely high – costs of childcare for many families in the country to be reduced and, in some cases, to be taken over entirely by the state, tax relief for families, and health services to be expanded. More than $ 500 billion has also been earmarked for the fight against the climate crisis, including investments in renewable energies and tax incentives for the purchase of electric cars.
Most recently, the House of Representatives had also added several things back to the package, including paid family time after the birth of a child or for caring for loved ones. This project – a matter close to the heart for left-wing democrats – could fall out again in the Senate in the face of resistance from moderate party colleagues. The package is to be financed through tax increases for corporations and top earners as well as through the more consistent collection of due taxes.
The vote on the legislative package was originally scheduled for Thursday evening. House minority Republican leader Kevin McCarthy delayed the vote with an eight-hour speech marathon. He used the debate for a general settlement with the President and the Democrats. McCarthy accused them of ruining the country with their policies.
Just two weeks ago, Congress passed another core project by the President: a major investment program to modernize the country’s infrastructure. Around 550 billion US dollars (476 billion euros) of new investments in infrastructure are planned over the next few years. In total – including previously budgeted funds – the package is worth more than one trillion US dollars.
A violent dispute among Biden’s democrats over the second social and climate package had held up the infrastructure plans for a long time. The heavy wing battles between the left and the moderates in the party have dominated the public discussion of the major projects in recent months. Biden’s government is now trying harder to convince the citizens of how they will benefit from the plans – also in the face of falling polls for the president. Both packages are central projects Bidens./jac/DP/ngu
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