Senior White House officials are holding "informal discussions" with both conservative and liberal policy experts to buoy support for proposals included in the administration's American Families Plan, specifically the long-term extension of the revamped child tax credit, several individuals involved in the talks tell the Washington Examiner.
The White House is adamant, however, that while President Joe Biden welcomes bipartisan attempts to advance the proposals, administration officials are not actively working with congressional offices to split off a bipartisan families bill from the forthcoming budget reconciliation package containing the remainder of Biden's infrastructure proposals, a notion multiple individuals interviewed by the Washington Examiner for this story said emerged during those "informal discussions."
"In line with the two track approach we've long been clear about, the president — as he repeated Friday — wants the child tax credit extended and we’re pursuing that in the budget resolution," one White House aide told the Washington Examiner. "The president knows the child tax credit would be a game changer for millions of families and would welcome bipartisan support for it but there is not a round of talks happening with Congress about a second bipartisan package."
These discussions come after the president called on Congress to send an already hashed-out bipartisan infrastructure package — which includes nearly $1 trillion to modernize the nation's roads, bridges, airports, broadband, and other physical infrastructure networks — and a larger reconciliation package expected to pass with only Democratic votes to the Oval Office in tandem.
Senior advisers to the president Gene Sperling and Neera Tanden and a handful of other economic aides are leading the discussions, according to individuals with knowledge of the talks. Some of the outreach has taken place in virtual briefings, a mainstay of the Biden administration's policy and communications teams, while some individuals approached by the White House told the Washington Examiner they were called directly by administration officials. Those individuals were left with the impression there is potential for a second cross-party package that focuses on expanding child and family incentive programs, a topic that has garnered past interest from private sector conservatives and Republican lawmakers.
Those individuals say that the main provisions likely to be included in any consensus proposal would be the long-term extension of the CTC as outlined by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, something Biden's team has made clear is a red line for the president, and a paid parental leave plan, something Republicans favor over the comprehensive paid family plans offered by liberal Democrats. Other suggestions include expanding the aperture on how states can allocate direct aid appropriated through the American Rescue Plan, a tactic the Biden administration just employed as part of the president's plan to combat gun violence and rising national crime.
"There's this recognition that family policy is this wedge issue," one policy expert familiar with the White House's outreach efforts said. "And if the Republicans let Democrats walk away with it, it's a problem."
Still, there are significant roadblocks toward reaching another bipartisan deal, the least of which is a lack of communication and political consensus among Republican economic centrists — such as Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — on what an acceptable family plan would look like.
"I think if Republicans acted as a caucus, if Republicans were organized, they could push a genuine bipartisan negotiation on the family," the policy expert continued. "The open question is, do they get their act together and approach the White House with a common set of priorities? And so far, I haven't seen them leaping at the opportunity to do that."
Biden and his top aides have stated for months that the administration is simultaneously pursuing multiple legislative tracks for the proposals included in the American Jobs and Families plans. Still, the White House has deferred to congressional leadership and sought to avoid publicly endorsing, or shooting down, the overwhelming majority of legislative rumblings. Senior White House officials, including press secretary Jen Psaki and senior adviser Anita Dunn, repeatedly tell reporters that the president's only red lines are provisions that raise taxes on families earning less than $400,000 per year and "inaction" on the subject.
"The president had two red lines in this entire process that we have stated over and over again. The first and most important was inaction, which was not an option for him," Dunn added during a Friday event. "And the second red line has consistently been, as you know, that he is not going to agree to tax increases for people who make less than $400,000 a year."
"We're at the beginning of a reconciliation process. You have the House and the Senate that both have their own processes," she continued. "It's a congressional process and a negotiation, so we understand that there will be a lot of back and forth between now and then."
EDITOR'S NOTE: White House aides approached the Washington Examiner after this piece was originally published to clarify one specific aspect, namely that the White House is not actively engaging with congressional offices on splitting off any of Biden's remaining families proposals into another bipartisan bill.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc