Biden heads to hometown Scranton to pitch shrinking spending agenda

Biden meets separately with progressives and moderates over social spending

Fox News correspondent Peter Doocey reports on President Biden meeting with progressives and moderates to secure his agenda on ‘Special Report’.

President Biden is traveling to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday to pitch his agenda amid reports that he has privately informed Democratic lawmakers that he will slash his proposed spending plan by nearly a trillion dollars in order to garner support from both progressives and moderate Democrats in Congress to get the package approved.

The president is expected to lay out the impact of the bipartisan infrastructure plan as well as his Build Back Better agenda on Pennsylvania.

According to a White House memo, there are 3,353 bridges and over 7,540 miles of highway in poor condition in Pennsylvania. The memo said that, if approved, the bipartisan infrastructure plan would give Pennsylvania more than $11 billion for federal-aid highways and $1.6 billion for bridges. The plan would also give the state nearly $3 billion to improve public transportation options.

As for the Build Back Better package, the White House said it “will make life better for millions of working families in Pennsylvania” by providing tax cuts for families with children and tax cuts for childless workers.

As for education, the president is expected to lay out how his agenda will help families to pay for child care and make the pitch for “universal, high-quality” pre-K, saying the passage of his bill will make that “a reality.”

President Biden walks back to the Oval Office after speaking to the 2020 and 2021 State and National Teacher of the Year recipients during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The president will also pitch at least two years of free community college to all students and highlight that his plan would expand the maximum Pell Grants for student borrowers.

Biden is also expected to highlight how his plan could lower housing costs and increase the supply of affordable housing.

The president’s expected pitch to Pennsylvanians comes after he reportedly detailed a potential deal for the spending proposal of between $1.75 trillion and $1.9 trillion. The Washington Post first reported the president’s counteroffer for a downsized plan from his original $3.5 trillion proposal.

The revised package includes many of the original plan’s signature proposals, including universal pre-K, substantial investment in green energy and expanded Medicare benefits. However, the sources told Washington Post the details were still subject to change.

The latest spending benchmark indicates Biden and other Democratic leaders have made significant cuts to their vast spending plan to achieve a compromise that satisfies both moderate and progressive Democratic lawmakers. Democratic leaders have set an Oct. 31 deadline to reach an agreement on the spending plan and a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal.

During the White House daily briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “continuing to make progress” toward an agreement, with Biden playing a leading role in negotiations.

Democratic moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said they would not support Biden’s original $3.5 trillion spending plan without major cuts. Manchin has publicly called for a spending plan of closer to $1.5 trillion.

It’s unclear if House progressives will back a spending plan at the lower end of the proposed range. Progressives have pushed Democratic leaders not to reduce the spending plan’s scope, even if it meant funding programs over shorter periods of time.

On Tuesday, House Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal expressed optimism that a deal would be reached, though she noted Biden has “consistently laid out a number that is somewhere between $1.9 and $2.2 [trillion].”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks with reporters after a meeting of the progressive House Democrats on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Look, it’s not the number that we want,” the Washington state Democrat told reporters. “We have consistently tried to make it as high as possible, but at the end of the day, the idea that we can do these programs, a multitude of programs that actually get them going so they deliver immediate transformational benefits to people is what we’re focused on.”

FOX Business’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report. 

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