Ro Khanna, leading House progressive, says he'll vote for infrastructure and social spending bills
Washington — Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, a leading progressive lawmaker from California, said Sunday he plans to vote in favor of the $1.75 trillion social policy and climate change package unveiled by President Biden last week, as well as a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, when the two plans are brought to the House floor.
"The president has shown patient and extraordinary leadership. It's time for this party to get together and deliver," Khanna said in an interview with "Face the Nation."
The California Democrat, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, specifically touted the climate change provisions in Mr. Biden's framework, as well as provisions that will expand preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds.
"It's been months. Let's get this done," Khanna said.
After weeks of negotiations between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party and the White House, Mr. Biden on Thursday announced a framework for his revamped plan to expand social safety net programs and combat climate change. With a $1.75 trillion price tag, the package is trimmed significantly from the initial $3.5 trillion sweeping proposal initially put forth by the White House.
Mr. Biden rolled out his new plan as he departed for Europe, where he is attending two major global summits, leaving Democratic leaders to muscle the social spending plan and physical infrastructure bill through Congress and win support for the scaled down $1.75 trillion measure from all factions of the party.
The plan contains $555 billion in climate and clean energy investments and would provide tax credits to Americans purchasing new electric vehicles and tax incentives to encourage the installation of solar panels on American homes. The legislation would also expand health insurance coverage and lower premiums, as well as expand Medicare coverage to include hearing services. If enacted, the bill would provide universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
But the package does not include proposals to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave and free community college, and leaves out a plan allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices or expand coverage for vision and dental benefits.
Still, the framework earned the backing of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which was key in negotiations. The 95-member caucus has withheld support for the physical infrastructure bill without it and the broader spending package moving through Congress together, opposition that delayed two House votes on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has already passed the Senate.
Khanna said he believes a vote on the $1.75 trillion bill could come as soon as Tuesday, but noted negotiations are still taking place, including over adding Medicare expansion to cover vision and dental services, prescription drug reform and more climate provisions.
"We're doing this with a majority that is less than President Clinton had, less than President Obama," the California Democrat said of his party's margins in the Senate. "They had 57, 60 senators. Here you've got 50-50."
While paid family leave and free community college were left out of Mr. Biden's framework, Khanna said the president pledged to do "everything he can" on the two issues. The California Democrat urged his Republican colleagues to support a standalone bill to provide paid family leave to workers.
"I'm an optimist to think maybe one Republican who gives speech after speech saying they're for the working class, they're for the forgotten American, let's do a single bill on paid family leave," he said. "They don't want to vote for the bigger thing, vote with us on paid family leave. Vote with us on child care. Vote with us to help the working class."
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