Biden Scales Back His Agenda in Hopes of Bringing Moderates Onboard

The president has conceded that his $3.5 trillion collection of spending programs and tax cuts will need to shrink to about $2 trillion or less.

By Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane

WASHINGTON — President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress in recent days have slashed their ambitions for a major expansion of America’s social safety net to a package worth about $2 trillion or less, which will force hard choices about how to scale back or discard key portions of the president’s agenda.

The figure is substantially less than Mr. Biden’s initial, $3.5 trillion collection of spending programs and tax increases, which covered everything from climate change, education and a wide range of economic issues.

But the president has acknowledged that he and Democratic leaders will need to pare down their plan in a concession to two Democratic centrist holdouts, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who have said repeatedly they would not support the larger version of the bill.

Mr. Biden told reporters on Monday that the bill would necessarily shrink as he courted Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin’s support. “I laid out what I thought it should be,” he said. “It’s not going to be that. It’s going to be less.”

In a private meeting with House Democrats on Friday, Mr. Biden said he expected the final bill to be worth somewhere in the $2 trillion range, according to a person familiar with the exchange.

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