Dems want tax hikes and $15 minimum wage as Biden considers breaking up ‘Build Back Better’

Joe Biden is eyeing breaking up his Build Back Better initiative into smaller bills his Chief of Staff Ron Klain told a group of progressive lawmakers Wednesday night as the president hopes he can get at least part of his jobs plan more easily passed in Congress.

Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders met with Klain at the White House Wednesday morning, the group’s Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal told Politico Playbook, to discuss Biden’s next legislative agenda: jobs.

The far-left Democrats are demanding a commitment from the president that the plan will still address transportation, climate, health care and family infrastructure – such as child care and paid leave – even if it is broken up into smaller bills. They are also insisting it includes tax hikes, especially on the wealthy.

Jayapal, who represents Washington state in the House, said her party will have to prioritize whether it wants to address the climate crisis or work with Republicans.

‘We can either go green, or we can go bipartisan, because I just don’t think that Republicans are ready to have a transformative package — and so I said that at the White House,’ Jayapal detailed, according to the Thursday morning report.

Joe Biden’s administration is considering breaking up his ‘Build Back Better’ jobs plan into at least three smaller bills to hopefully gain more bipartisan support in Congress and increase the changes of passage

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (left), and four other members, met with Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain (right) Wednesday to discuss the plan. She demanded a commitment it will address infrastructure, climate and health care as well as tax hikes on the wealthy

Centrist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, however, has said that he would not support a bill that did not include Republican negotiations and input. With a 50-50 split Senate, any Democrat defector could essentially hold veto power of legislation with which they don’t agree.

‘I think they share that commitment to addressing climate in this infrastructure package,’ Jayapal continued of the administration. ‘Maybe that’s part of the reason they were saying there may be multiple bills.’

After signing into law the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package earlier this month, Biden’s team has floated he is getting to work on a major infrastructure bill – which some said could reach between $2-$4 trillion.

According to Jayapal, Klain suggested Wednesday that the bill could be broken up into as many as three bills.

Jayapal was joined in her meeting with Klain at the White House by fellow CPC members Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Barbara Lee of California and Cori Bush of Missouri.

The goal in breaking up the plan is to get some bills passed with bipartisan support and others passed in Congress through reconciliation.

It’s possible that at least a handful of Republicans would get on board with narrower packages – like ones paying for new U.S. infrastructure like roads and bridges. However, it’s also entirely possible that some GOP members wouldn’t want to go further than that.

Jayapal and her progressive colleagues still want any new plan to include tax hikes, especially on the rich as they demand ‘Build Back Better’ implements some sort of wealth redistribution.

The administration is working on an infrastructure and jobs bill that could reach $2-$4 trillion as high unemployment numbers continue to hold steady in the coronavirus pandemic

The administration is working on an infrastructure and jobs bill that could reach $2-$4 trillion as high unemployment numbers continue to hold steady in the coronavirus pandemic

The Washington congresswoman said Klain appeared to agree with this notion.

‘We did have a very good discussion about how the White House sees any revenue [raisers] — and I think we share their perspective — that revenue raisers are really about making the tax code fair,’ Jayapal said of her meeting Wednesday morning.

‘And of course, addressing the massive and unprecedented income inequality in this country,’ she added. ‘That’s very much our frame as well.’

Also a topic of the meeting was raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which Democrats were not able to hike as part of the American Rescue Plan earlier this month.

Progressives feel this should be a priority for the Democratic-led Congress and Biden White House.

Some more progressive Democrats have floated increasing the minimum wage by a smaller margin, like to $11 per hour from the current federal rate of $7.25.

‘There was no consensus around it, but I will just say we got a very clear sense that this is a real commitment for the White House, and they’re very willing to work with us on what that looks like,’ Jayapal said of raising the minimum wage by more than 100 per cent.

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