Cabinet members on Sunday touted what remains in President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion so-called "human infrastructure" legislation, and defended what's been cut out as a casualty of closing negotiations.
The president Thursday announced that he and Democrats in Congress had reached a framework for his domestic policy package, but was still seeking support from key colleagues in the 50-50 Senate. Paid family leave and other provisions were removed following negotiations with two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, neither of whom has yet publicly expressed support for the bill.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, on CNN's "State of the Union," was reminded by host Dana Bash that as a federal employee with newborn twins, he recently took advantage of paid leave.
She asked Buttigieg why Biden couldn’t find the support within his own party to close the deal with family benefits included for all Americans.
"Well, look, it's something that we believe in. I believe in it. Obviously it's personal for me," the secretary said of paid family leave. "The same is true for the president. And it's something that we'll continue pushing for. But let's talk about what is in this bill."
Buttigieg listed the bill’s selling points, including a discount of up to $12,500 on electric vehicles, expanded preschool access for 3- and 4-year-olds, and extension of a child care tax credit, which he said could benefit nine out of 10 American families.
"When we pass this bill, we will have delivered the most important pro-family legislation of my lifetime," Buttigieg said. "The biggest expansion in health care since the [Affordable Care Act] itself. The most we've done on climate change ever. And concrete improvements, literally, in roads, bridges, ports, airports and so much more."
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, speaking to host Chuck Todd host on NBC’s "Meet the Press," denied that Democrats had "overpromised and under-delivered" on the bill. She also downplayed progressive opposition, saying the Progressive Caucus voted unanimously in support of the framework Friday.
"The president campaigned and said, 'Compromise is not a dirty word,' " she said. "You are not so unrealistic to think that the president's gonna get everything he wants."
Biden’s proposal would be paid for by imposing a new 5% surtax on income over $10 million a year, and instituting a new 15% corporate minimum tax, keeping with his plans to have no new taxes on those earning less than $400,000 a year, officials said. A special "billionaires tax" was not included.
Revenue to help pay for the package would also come from rolling back some of the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts, along with stepped-up enforcement of tax-dodgers by the IRS.
"We are the closest that we've ever been and the president is confident that this framework that we're putting forward can pass the House and Senate and get to his desk for signature," Buttigieg said.