Which proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan?

Which proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan?

Democrats are working quickly to scale down their multitrillion-dollar social spending bill to meet demands of moderates who want the overall price tag cut, putting popular proposals like universal pre-K and health care expansions at risk.

Recent reports have placed the total costs of the shifting plan in the $2 trillion range, a figure significantly lower than the $3.5 trillion initially proposed for the sweeping package. 

The shrinking top line spells trouble for a slew of Democratic wish list items that were included in the earlier version of the bill, putting proposals like 12 weeks of paid family leave, expansions to Medicaid and Medicare, as well the expanded child tax credit at risk of drastic change, or nixed from the plan entirely.


Here is our look at the state of play for some of the most popular proposals. 

Paid family leave

Democrats initially proposed a federal family paid leave program that would give workers 12 weeks of paid leave. But as the party looks for areas to reduce spending, the program could be scaled down to four weeks.

“I understand at the moment it’s four weeks. It should be 12,” Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroHouse sets up Senate shutdown showdown The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron Schumer warns of 'Republican anti-vaccine shutdown' MORE (D-Conn.), a proponent of paid leave in Congress, told The Hill on Thursday. She added she doesn’t “have all the specifics” regarding the proposal. 

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandEx-officials voice deep concerns over new Pentagon UFO unit Paid leave advocates ramping up the pressure on Manchin and Schumer Gillibrand, bipartisan lawmakers push to keep military justice overhaul in NDAA MORE (D-N.Y.) said she and other supporters are trying to win over Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE (D-W.Va.) to keep paid leave in the bill, as some reports indicate the centrist isn’t entirely on board with the multibillion-dollar proposal.

“Right now, we're trying to convince Sen. Manchin it's important to keep paid leave in the suite of strategies to help people keep working to stay working and to be able to work at their fullest economic potential,” she told The Hill on Thursday. 

But Gillibrand, who wants both proposals for family and medical leave to stay in the bill, said she and some members are still not sure if the measures will stay in amid spending talks.

“We don't know what number we're at yet because we don't even know what's in the bill,” she said.

Universal pre-K

Universal pre-K schooling for kids ages 3 to 4 is still in play. Democrats seek to boost women’s workforce participation after data showed hundreds of thousands have left the labor force during the pandemic. 

Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The omicron threat and Biden's plan to beat it Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps MORE (D-Mich.) told The Hill on Thursday that the president “has every intention that is one of the most important things we do.”

Dingell said she thinks “people want to just make sure it's there for everybody.” 

“It's going to be in,” she said. “What the details are, they’re being worked out.” 

Tuition-free community college

Two years of tuition-free community college may be yanked from the legislation after talks this week. Days back, CNN reported that Biden, who has pushed for the measure as a key part of his legislative agenda, told progressives the proposal likely won’t make it into the final package. 

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.) has also expressed doubt about the proposal making the final cut in comments to reporters not long after, saying: “There will be something for higher education, but it probably won’t be the free community college.”

Carbon tax

Democrats were previously eyeing a carbon tax, a plan that would have taxed carbon dioxide and methane emissions. The proposal picked up some traction in recent weeks as a way to combat climate change while helping offset costs for the package.

However, it seems unlikely the proposal will get the necessary backing it needs to be included in the final plan. Moderates Manchin and Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (Mont.), have opposed the idea so far, which is enough to kill the proposal for the party in the 50-50 Senate. 

“The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin said this week.

Child tax credit


A previous proposal to extend the expanded child tax credit through 2025 appears likely to get watered down.

In meetings with multiple Democrats on Tuesday, the president suggested the expanded benefit, which is set to expire in the coming weeks, would be extended to just one year, as negotiations continue around provision cuts.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (D-Calif.) said at her weekly press conference on Thursday that she wants the expanded tax credit to be “permanent,” like many other Democrats. However, she contended: “This is the president's big issue.”

“It's called the Biden child tax credit. So, if it's acceptable to him in light of the bill, it's acceptable to me,” she said. 

Health care expansions

Democrats initially proposed significant expansions to health care, including extending Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits, as well expanding Medicaid coverage to the dozen Republican-led states that have rejected it.

But, as the package is pared down, members are battling over which should be prioritized.


Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Briahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal MORE (I-Vt.) is one of the most prominent figures backing the Medicare expansion, calling the provision “not negotiable.” But House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has knocked the proposal, saying Medicare coverage also extends to “millionaires and billionaires,” instead pushing for the Medicaid expansion to take priority.

Pelosi has also thrown support behind expanding the Affordable Care Act to help those enrolled pay for premiums.

There have been talks for temporary implementation of the proposals, but nothing appears to be set in stone.

Affordable housing

A list of affordable housing measures — including down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers, proposals to provide housing choice vouchers to thousands and funding to create and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing units — are on the chopping block. 

An amount of $300 billion was initially proposed for various housing needs, but reports have since surfaced of the possibility that the price tag could be shaved down to a fraction. 

House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersCrypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Powell, Yellen say they underestimated inflation and supply snarls The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (D-Calif.) has helped lead the charge to protect funding.


“We are not simply going to go along to get along. We're probably going to have to give an alternative to whatever is being suggested,” Waters said on Wednesday.

Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Powell says Fed will consider faster taper amid surging inflation Biden faces new pressure from climate groups after Powell pick MORE (D-Ohio), who is also fighting to protect the housing aid, told reporters it will make it into the final bill “either way.” 

Pressed about his top line, Brown wouldn’t give a figure, but said “everything's gonna be reduced.”

Clean electricity program

The Clean Electricity Performance Program, one of the Democrats’ key climate programs, has been dropped after pushback from Manchin who holds significant sway in a an evenly divided Senate.   

The program would have incentivized clean energy investment by electric utilities and was expected to reduce emissions.

Some Democrats have said they are considering “alternatives” to the program, as pressure mounts from advocates who say urgent climate action is needed. 

Tax rate increases

One of the biggest proposed revenue raisers for the entire bill — increasing tax rates on corporations and high-income households — hangs in the balance. 

Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden should seek some ideological diversity Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin MORE (D-Ariz.), has come out in opposition to the proposal, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper reported Wednesday she was opposed to the rate hikes in conversations with lobbyists.

Democrats had hoped to raise rates on corporations and high-income households, while providing the middle class tax relief, and using the revenue raised to offset costs for spending boosts to social benefits.

The paper reported that Democrats are considering alternatives to the proposals, including raising taxes on U.S. companies' foreign earnings.