President Biden expressed optimism Thursday about working out an agreement with Democrats on his multitrillion-dollar domestic policy agenda while he spelled out the elements of the package opposed by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

The president fielded several questions on a range of topics at a CNN town hall event before a live audience in Baltimore. Biden got questions about both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a recently scaled-back package that includes an array of Democratic priorities, including expansion of Medicare, introduction of universal prekindergarten and billions of dollars to address climate change.

Here’s what to know:

  • Democrats braced for cuts to a paid leave program as they whittled down Biden’s economic package.
  • Biden said he “absolutely” would consider using the National Guard to address supply-chain issues. The White House later clarified that use of the Guard at the state level is the purview of governors.
  • Biden said he is open to fundamentally altering — and perhaps doing away with — the filibuster when it comes to certain issues, but that his current priority is his economic agenda.
9:16 p.m.
Headshot of Seung Min Kim
Seung Min Kim: Reporters all over Washington — including yours truly — in recent days have sent hundreds of frantic texts to sources, made call after call to senior aides, and chased after any lawmaker who has met with Biden to dig around for any morsels of the ongoing negotiations over his massive social safety net and climate package.It turns out, we could’ve waited for Biden to read out all of the details on live television.During the CNN town hall Thursday night, the president went into remarkable detail about the granular aspect of his negotiations over the “Build Back Better” package, whose outline Democrats are scrambling to finalize in the coming days.Sinema was very supportive of his climate plans, although she won’t back a “single penny” of tax increases through the corporate tax rate or on wealthy earners, Biden revealed. (Democrats privately grouse that the other holdout — Manchin — is the reverse — mostly with the party on taxes but not on climate policy).Is the paid leave program sliced down to four weeks, from the proposed 12? Biden confirmed that on air.And the president detailed a proposal being discussed among Democrats that would provide dental coverage as part of a new voucher program, as part of the party’s complicated push to expand Medicare benefits.All of these pieces have been reported in recent days, revealed through private conversations between Biden and Democratic lawmakers or during intense negotiations among senior members and aides. Reporters at The Washington Post and other outlets have been confident of these details.But let’s be honest: it’s gratifying to have another layer of on-the-record confirmation, especially if it’s from the president of the United States himself.
Seung Min Kim, White House reporter