Biden promises to pass free community college during his term - just not in Democrats' social-spending bill




  • In Politics
  • 2021-10-22 13:53:15Z
  • By Business Insider
Joe Biden
Joe Biden  
  • Biden confirms free community college is out of Democrats' social-spending bill.

  • But he promises to get it done during his term - sticking to what he promised during his campaign.

  • He blamed Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for the cut.

President Joe Biden confirmed on Thursday what many lawmakers have been claiming - tuition-free community college is out of Democrats' social-spending bill.

But he promised Americans they will see free community college before his first term is up in 2024.

"I'm going to get it done," Biden said during a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper. "And if I dont, I'll be sleeping alone for a long time," he said, likely referring to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who is a community college educator.

Earlier this week, sources familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN that free community college was being dropped from Democrats' reconciliation bill, but Thursday was the first time people across the country heard it coming straight from Biden. Free community college was a campaign promise of the president - under the proposal, states would receive money based on average tuition and fees at community colleges, and in exchange, states would eliminate in-state tuition for students at those colleges.

While the House Education and Labor Committee unveiled their plan to include that measure in the reconciliation bill last month, it ran into opposition from the two major holdouts on the bill: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

"Here's the deal," Biden said during the town hall. "So far, Mr. Manchin and one other person has indicated that they will not support free community college."

Manchin indicated that if free community college were to make it into the final version of the bill, he wanted to subject it to thresholds, meaning only a targeted group of people at a certain income level would be able to access the benefit, drastically reducing the reach many Democrats wanted the provision to have.

Biden said even though free community college is not making it into the bill this time around, the spending will still increase the Pell Grant awards by $500 to help with tuition costs.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren previously suggested to Insider that free community college could have another chance to pass in another social-spending bill in 2022.

"Even things that may not pass in this reconciliation package may be teed up for the next one, which would come next year," Warren said.

In a 50-50 Senate, Manchin and Sinema's votes are crucial to passing Democrats' agenda; much of this week is filled with negotiations to get the two centrists onboard. Clean-energy initiatives are also on the chopping block for the bill, as well as a shorter-than-anticipated extension of the $300 monthly child tax credit checks to families and a rollback of Trump's tax cuts.

Insider previously reported that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was "worried" providing tuition-free education would not make it into the final package.

"I'm worried that's one of the things that is being looked at to be cut from the Build Back Better agenda," Cardona told Politico in an interview. "That would be a shame because we're so close to leveling the playing field for so many students."

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