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Biden pushes infrastructure, spending in Pennsylvania as Democrats near deal

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden heads on Wednesday to his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania as an agreement among Democrats on the scope of his social spending package appeared within reach.

Biden will deliver remarks at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, an election swing state, and talk about how his infrastructure plan will benefit the working class in cities like Scranton. His fellow Democrats in Washington are closing in on a deal here to pass infrastructure and social spending measures after weeks of bickering.

Biden told lawmakers on Tuesday he thought he could get Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to agree to a cost in the range of $1.75 trillion to $1.9 trillion for the spending bill, according to a source familiar with the talks.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set Oct. 31 as the deadline for the House to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal that the Senate has already approved and has broad bipartisan support. On Wednesday, she told reporters that it is "very possible" for Democrats to agree on a framework for Biden's spending bill at the end of the week.

Democrats missed a prior deadline to pass the infrastructure bill, after House progressive lawmakers refused to approve it unless it was coupled with the spending bill that would fund Biden's campaign pledges on climate, inequality and social programs.

Climate change remains one of the final sticking points in the spending bill. Biden was clear he wants an agreement before going to a climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland that starts Oct. 31, the source said. The United States has pledged to lower greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The president floated alternatives to a clean energy program that Manchin opposes, the source said. These include $450 billion in support for renewable energy, electric vehicles, carbon capture and nuclear power.

While the components of the two bills are popular with voters from both parties, the protracted negotiations have created confusion. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who complained earlier that unfavorable media coverage was hurting public support, will host a livestream on Wednesday titled "What's in the Damn Bill."

Reporting by Nandita Bose and Alexandra Alper; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman

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