(TheRedWire.com) – In 2020, Progressive Democrats and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden promised to make a college education more affordable. As part of that pledge, they intended to make community college accessible to most Americans. On Monday, February 7, First Lady Jill Biden confirmed what most already knew. That provision of President Biden’s economic plan isn’t going to happen.
In October, moderate Democrats removed the measure from the $2 trillion Build Back Better plan once and for all. Democrats attempted to pass the wide-ranging social and climate agenda through a budget process known as reconciliation to get around needing Republican support in the Senate. In reality, the wish list item was unlikely to ever make it into law despite progressive claims to the contrary.
Free Community College Isn’t Going to Happen
Dr. Biden isn’t just the First Lady. She’s also a long-time community college professor. On Monday, she spoke at the 2022 Community College National Legislative Summit. She told attendees the provision to provide free community college is no longer part of the package, despite the fact the legislation is permanently dead (more on that later). The First Lady said advocates for the program knew it was a longshot, and it wouldn’t be easy to pass. Still, she admonished those against free community college as people who don’t get it.
The program would have been a windfall for community colleges. It could have fetched as much as $45.5 billion to waive tuition for students for two years. The initial provision provided funding for five years and then declined 5% every year after.
Biden said some provisions might make it into a negotiated smaller bill to provide financial resources for community colleges. She said proposals include high-speed internet, increased Pell Grants, affordable childcare, and universal preschool. Additionally, the First Lady said community colleges benefited from the American Rescue Act passed by Democrats in March 2021 because it added millions of dollars to community college coffers. As new students enroll as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in November, money will also come in.
Manchin Kills Build Back Better with Final Blow
On Sunday morning, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) really killed the Build Back Better proposal, again. He said that his biggest beef with Democrats was his colleagues tried to transform society, the economy, and government without any input from Republicans. That didn’t sit well with him, and if there are to be any negotiations moving forward, the legislative process needs to be done correctly, through committee, and include Republicans.
That effectively kills the progressive agenda. Manchin questioned if the country really wanted to change society through a series of parliamentary schemes reducing any deal moving forward significantly. The Democrats never held a true majority in the 50/50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris would vote to break a tie.
Still, the FLOTUS said her husband would not give up. It’s just not clear if he has any political capital to make free community college or any other big government program feasible.
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