Democrats lobbied Biden's multibillion-dollar safety net bill



Democrats lobbied Biden's multibillion-dollar safety net bill

"The rubber is hitting the road in terms of shaping policy and tuning everything," said a top Democratic aide, with the party hoping to vote on the bill this month.

In a race against time, Democratic leaders in Congress are working frantically to craft a multibillion-dollar bill to expand the Social Safety Net with plans to hit the gas and begin moving it through the House this week.

The House Ways and Means Committee released hundreds of pages of the legislative text Tuesday and announced hearings for Thursday and Friday. The bill would include 12 weeks of paid family leave and medical leave for all workers; Expand Medicare benefits to add coverage for dental, hearing, and vision; And new investments to boost nursing homes and long-term care, among other provisions.

Two sources familiar with the emerging bill said that behind the scenes, Democratic leaders are engaging in a series of negotiations with lawmakers and committees in both houses to write policies that could unite the party, with the White House sometimes stepping in to resolve differences.

"We are in a place where the rubber is hitting the road in terms of shaping policy and tuning everything and racing toward those deadlines," said a top Democratic aide, adding that the Senate hopes to vote on the bill by September 27. "We are setting an ambitious timetable, but we are moving forward to meet it."

The aide said Democrats could move quickly because many of the policies were developed over the years before they became part of President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign platform, giving the party a basis for action since he took office in January.

Faced with unanimous Republican opposition and a narrow majority, Democrats have no votes to spare in the Senate and only three to lose in the House. And they're trying to develop a product that can traverse both houses without having to go back and forth, in part to satisfy centrist lawmakers.

Medicare and ACA Booster Expansion

A second Democratic aide said the ways and means proposals enjoyed general party consensus but fell short of ensuring "100 percent agreement" at this point. Some of the details in the commission's bill will likely need to be changed to gain enough support to become law.

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