WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Before President Joe Biden spoke to the Democratic caucus and the nation Thursday, the White House released a framework of the Build Back Better Act that included agricultural, forestry and child nutrition provisions. Biden also asked Congress to take up both the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act "as quickly as possible."
CNN reported that Biden did not ask the Democratic caucus to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill, but that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she is going to put the bill up for a vote Thursday, and if it does not get enough votes to pass, she will leave the vote open.
CNN also said Pelosi urged House Democrats not to "embarrass" Biden before he leaves for international meetings in Europe, and that Pelosi is expected to speak publicly at 2 p.m.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said on CNN that House Democrats had received a notice from House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., that the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill would be held Thursday.
The White House noted that President Biden had heard "input from all sides" and negotiated "in good faith" with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., before announcing the framework.
The White House also said, "President Biden is confident this is a framework that can pass both houses of Congress, and he looks forward to signing it into law. He calls on Congress to take up this historic bill -- in addition to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act -- as quickly as possible."
But members of the House Progressive Caucus were still balking at voting for the infrastructure bill without legislative language on the Build Back Better Act and assurances that Democratic holdouts Manchin and Sinema would vote for it in the Senate.
Manchin and Sinema said the framework was an improvement but did not say clearly that they would vote for the bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that there should be "improvements" in the BBB before House progressives agree to support the infrastructure bill.
Several liberal groups endorsed the BBB and urged votes on both bills, however.
After his speech, Biden prepared to leave for Europe for a meeting with Pope Francis and the G20 and United Nations climate change meetings.
FRAMEWORK ADDRESSES AG, FOOD, ENVIRONMENT
The framework says that the bill would "bolster resilience and natural solutions to climate change through a historic investment in coastal restoration, forest management, and soil conservation."
"The framework will provide resources to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions. At its peak, the increased investments in climate smart agriculture alone could reach roughly 130 million cropland acres per year, representing as many as 240,000 farms.
"Farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners have long demonstrated leadership in environmental stewardship with strategies that provide benefits for the farm, the environment, and the public. These investments will help meet the demand from the farming community for conservation support and enable producers to realize the full potential of climate benefits from agriculture."
In another section, the framework says the bill would "strengthen the middle class through a historic investment in equity, safety, and fairness."
"The legislation makes a transformative investment in Rural America through a new Rural Partnership Program that will empower rural regions, including Tribal Nations and territories, by providing flexible funding for locally led projects. The Build Back Better framework will also make an historic investment in maternal health and establish a new and innovative community violence intervention initiative, in addition to investing in small businesses and preparing the nation for future pandemics and supply chain disruptions."
Finally, the framework says the bill would "promote nutrition security to support children's health."
"The Build Back Better framework will help children reach their full potential by investing in nutrition security year-round. The legislation will expand free school meals to 8.7 million children during the school year and provide a $65 per child per month benefit to the families of 29 million children to purchase food during the summer."
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
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