Here's the Democratic wish list after Biden's 'go big' stimulus

Here's the Democratic wish list after Biden's 'go big' stimulus
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak after a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • Democrats are setting their sights past Joe Biden's stimulus — on funding for infrastructure, climate change, and more.
  • They could draft another reconciliation bill, but some have already introduced bills on immigration and health care.
  • Biden has said he will not propose any additional funding until his stimulus passes.

A week before taking office, President Joe Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan. The week before he took office, the plan became the source of nearly every discussion and debate occurring on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

But now, there appears to be an end in sight and a pathway for the plan to be passed at the end of February, and Democrats are beginning to set their sights on the next big issues to tackle in helping the economy recover from the pandemic.

Democrats plan to use budget reconciliation to pass the stimulus plan, which means that only a simple majority is required for passage, rather than 60 votes, but only one reconciliation bill related to spending can pass each fiscal year.
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Whether Democrats choose to push for another budget reconciliation bill or put together separate bills, here are the issues they are likely take up if and when the stimulus passes:

Infrastructure

Although the stimulus plan has not yet passed, Biden met with a group of four senators on February 11 to discuss a bipartisan approach to infrastructure plans.

The president campaigned on a $2 trillion investment in infrastructure that would create clean-energy jobs and bolster the middle class, and senior Democratic officials have even discussed a $3 trillion investment, anonymous sources told The Washington Post.
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And on Wednesday, Biden met with 10 labor leaders to discuss infrastructure, including AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, who said in a statement that it was "the most productive Oval Office meeting in years."

The same day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing that Biden will not finalize any infrastructure funding plans until the stimulus package is passed.

Climate Change

On his first day in office, Biden fulfilled his campaign promise of rejoining the Paris Agreement, and members of his administration, including Sec. of Energy nominee Jennifer Granholm and Sec. of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, have pledged to make climate change a top priority.
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Democrats in Congress have, too.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York championed the Green New Deal, an initiative lauded by progressives, and according to his campaign website, Biden "believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face." Although it did not pass through Congress, the green proposal called for the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and it would cost at least $10 trillion.

In 2020, the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis released a report that detailed a $400 billion-per-year plan to tackle climate change.
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Health Care

At the end of January, Biden signed executive orders that will increase access to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Trump had slashed funding to advertising the healthcare law during his tenure and allowed some states to add work requirements to Medicaid.

And on Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced a proposal to create a government-run health care plan on ACA exchanges, which is intended to drive costs down by competing with the plans of private insurers.

However, given that Republicans have historically opposed government involvement in health care, Kaine told reporters that he would push to get the measure passed through budget reconciliation.
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Immigration

During his campaign, Biden made it clear that he would reverse many of Trump's immigration policies, such as halting border wall construction, which he followed through on in an executive order at the beginning of February.

On Thursday, Rep. Linda Sánchez of California and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced a bill to provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, which they said would bolster the country's long-term economic growth by creating jobs and increasing funding for immigrant integration initiatives.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that immigration through reconciliation is "not necessarily" an option, so Democrats may not be able to include it in a larger package.
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Student Loan Debt Relief

Forgiving up to $50,000 in student loan debt is an issue that the president and Democrats have disagreed on - sort of.

Biden has said that he doesn't have the executive authority to forgive $50,000, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have argued that Biden can do so under the Higher Education Act. Still, Biden said he could support that much debt being eliminated as long as it is done via legislation. Psaki said on Wednesday that Biden will call on the Justice Department to review his authority to cancel student debt.
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