Democrats in Washington remain divided over two key bills at the center of President Biden’s domestic agenda: a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $1.85 trillion Build Back Better plan, which has been cut down from $3.5 trillion. Even though Biden’s latest framework is almost half the size of the original proposal, conservative Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are still refusing to commit to its passage. The new proposal strips out several key provisions, including paid family leave, free community college, expanded Medicare coverage for dental and vision, and prescription drug reform. Key elements still in the framework include provisions to provide universal pre-K education, an expanded child tax credit for another year, affordable child care, affordable housing, free school meals, expanded Medicare for hearing services, as well as $555 billion in climate initiatives. Economist Darrick Hamilton, founding director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School, says that despite the smaller size of the package, it would still transform the U.S. economy after decades of austerity and budget cuts. “This is a pivotal change,” he says.
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