Moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is in Europe this week fundraising as President Joe Biden‘s multi-trillion reconciliation bill remains in limbo.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Sinema had participated in fundraising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, with one source saying an event had occurred in Paris.
The chairman of the DSCC, Sen. Gary Peters, is also in Europe this week, and held a ticketed fundraiser in London where American expats could give as much as $36,500, however Sinema’s name was not on the invitation.
Her office refused to tell The Times how long she would be abroad, what countries she was visiting and if she was doing additional fundraising for her own campaign.
However, the newspaper found out that her political staff had reached out to people to set up meetings in Paris and London.
Her travels come after she reportedly told the White House what she wants to see in the reconciliation bill – and Biden’s team isn’t happy about it.
Moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is in Europe this week fundraising as President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion reconciliation bill remains in limbo
‘I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I’m communicating it to them in detail. They just don’t like that they’re hearing,’ she recently told a Senate Democratic colleague, who then told Politico’s Playbook about the conversation.
Now with a debt ceiling crisis waved off until early December, the White House and Congress’ full attention can return to crafting what’s in the reconciliation bill, which Biden has conceded will no longer have a pricetag of $3.5 trillion.
After Playbook’s report came out, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about its accuracy and whether she could share where Sinema stood.
Psaki only confirmed that the White House had been in touch.
‘We have – of course. We’ve been in consistent contact with Senator Sinema from a high level. Of course, as you know, the president has spoken with her and met with her a number of times. She’s been in touch with senior members of our White House team. And we’re working with her, we’re working with Senator Manchin, we’re working with a range of Democrats to move this legislation forward,’ Psaki said.
Sinema and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remain the moderate hold-outs, but their priorities for what’s in the bill aren’t aligned.
Sinema’s comment to her colleague represents her beating back the perception that she’s playing coy about what she supports.
West Virginia moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (left) is a also negotiating with President Joe Biden (right) over what should be in the reconciliation package, though he’s been more forthcoming about his demands
The Saturday Night Live version of her played up this narrative, with Cecily Strong’s character saying: ‘What do I want from this bill? I’ll never tell, because I didn’t come to Congress to make friends. So far, mission accomplished.’
But there’s truth in that, according to the colleague, who says Sinema won’t tell fellow lawmakers what she wants.
‘I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,’ Sinema told her Democratic colleague, according to Playbook.
‘Manchin and Sinema want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs,’ a souce close to Biden told Playbook. ‘If you just look at their currently presented red lines you wouldn’t have enough left to get this past progressives in the House and Senate. It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.’
Democratic sources said the biggest obstacle Sinema has created is over prescription drug pricing reform.
The boldest version of the plan allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices and brings in $800 billion from the pharmaceutical industry.
However, Democratic sources told Playbook that the White House would be lucky if they can convince Sinema to support a program that brings in $200 billion from the industry.
At that dollar amount, the expansion of Medicare that Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for, and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports, wouldn’t be paid for, Playbook noted.
At the same time, Manchin will support a drug pricing plan, but he wants to see a tax on prescription opioids – which is not supported by Sinema’s allies at PhRMA.
On climate, Manchin is opposed to pricing carbon pollution, while Sinema favors it.
Manchin also refuses to support subsidies for the West Virginia coal workers who will lose their incomes as the U.S. transitions to more green energy sources.
Sources told Politico Manchin ‘rejected it out of hand,’ calling it ‘welfare.’
‘So, like where the hell is the overlap?’ the source close to Biden told Playbook, describing the cap as ‘maddening.’ ‘How do you land that?’
Last week, video of Green New Deal Network Chief of Staff Kunoor Ojha following Sinema through the Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, asking her why she wouldn’t support the Build Back Better Act as the representative tried to field a phone conversation
Earlier last week, a group of immigration activists with the group LUCHA Arizona followed Sinema into the bathroom at Arizona State University, where she teachers, demanding again that she support a ‘pathway to citizenship’
BIDEN’S $3.5T BUILD BACK BETTER PLAN: WHAT’S IN THE 2,465-PAGE BILL AND HOW THE DEMOCRATS WILL PAY FOR IT
Critics have already seized on one of its most controversial measures: An extra $79 billion for the Internal Revenue Service over the next decade to expand audits and strengthen enforcement.
There are also a number of welfare, social and climate provisions contained in the 2,465 page bill that have led to opposition from moderates in the Democratic party and Republicans.
Democrats now realize that they will not get the package passed, unless it is below $3.5 trillion. The party now faces a war between its factions over what to include and what to leave out.
Two free years of community college
The legislation provides two years of free community college for all students. The anticipated to cost $108 billion.
The bill would also add $80 billion in funding for Pell Grants for families with a total income of up to $50,000 which Democrats say hasn’t kept pace with the increasing cost of college.
The plan includes $3 billion for ‘tree equity’, $12 billion for electric cars, $1 billion more to turn government facilities into ‘high-performance green buildings’ and millions more for gender identity and bias training.
The legislation would also spend billions of dollars to tackle climate change, including President Biden’s proposed ‘Climate Change Corps.’ It would get $7.5 billion for conservation work on public lands.
Race and gender-based issues come with smaller spending, but will likely raise hackles among Republicans and moderate Democrats.
The bill includes $25 billion for non-profits to provide ‘anti-discrimination and bias training’ in health care.
Biden spoke to Republicans and Democrats during a visit to the Congressional baseball game on Wednesday evening
Extended child tax credit
Democrats expanded the child tax credit for 2021 in their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, and now want to extend it through 2025.
Under the enhancement, families receive $3,600 per child under age 6, and $3,000 per child age 6 to 18. Most families receive monthly payments of either $250 or $300 per child.
The full expanded child tax credit is available to individuals making up to $75,000 or married couples making up to $150,000,
Tax cuts for workers without children
The White House says roughly 17 million low-wage workers will benefit from the increase in the Earned-Income tax credit from $543 to $1,502.
Paid family medical leave
U.S. would have comprehensive paid leave, covering 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The legislation would replace at least two-thirds of earnings, up to $4,000 per month, while the lowest-paid workers would receive 80 percent of their income.
Child care and universal pre-K
Every family that applies shall be offered child care assistance for children ages 0 to 5. In all, the plan allocates roughly $450 billion to lower the cost of child care and provide two years of universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the House Education and Labor Committee.
The panel estimated that this proposal would keep the cost of child care at or below 7 per cent of most families’ income.
This heavily debated provision would expand Medicare to include coverage of dental, hearing and vision services.
Cut prescription drug prices
Another key part of the bill is aimed at helping to slash prescription drug prices.
Americans on average pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs, according to the White House.
The administration will lower drug costs by letting Medicare negotiate prices and removing the impact of pharmaceutical companies.
How the Biden administration plans to pay for it
Democrats have included tax plan to pay for the huge bill, that mainly targets the rich.
The corporate tax rate would rise from 21 per cent to 26 percent, and the top income tax rate for Americans making over $400,000 would increase from 37 per cent to 39.6 percent. The top capital gains rate would also go from 20 percent to 25 percent.
Biden has promised he won’t raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000, but Republicans insist that simply won’t happen.
Democrats are also looking to spend $79billion in additional funding to bulk up IRS enforcement and try and crack down on tax avoiders.
This includes a plan that banks will be have to report transactions over $600 to the IRS.
This crackdown on unreported income is expected to generate $463 billion over the next decade, according to the Office of Tax Analysis. That money would be used to partially fund Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the tax changes spearheaded by Democrats would raise more than $2 trillion in revenue over 10 years, with roughly $1 trillion in tax increases from high-income Americans and nearly $1 trillion from corporate and international tax reforms.
How much will it really cost?
The White House has suggested that the huge spending plan will cost ‘zero dollars’.
But an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) found the proposals in the agenda would require the US to directly borrow $1 trillion, projecting that nearly $3 trillion would be added to the national debt over the next 10 years.
The former measure, which passed the Senate in August, would only offset its own costs by about $200 billion according to the CRFB. That leaves $350 billion to be paid.