U.S. Democrat Jayapal says progressives want to keep all programs in social bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leader of progressive Democrats, said on Tuesday that most of them support keeping all proposed programs in a multitrillion-dollar social policy bill, while shortening the time period to trim the overall cost.

Jayapal spoke to reporters on a conference call after conflicting remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as to whether Democrats would cut specific programs or try to adjust timing to pare the bill’s cost.

Democrats are struggling to agree on whether to cut back a proposed $3.5 trillion bill that two Senate moderates – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – oppose, saying it is too large.

Jayapal said the legislation could authorize free community college, child care and other programs for less than 10 years. But she said that climate change measures included would be needed for at least a decade.

Shortening the programs’ duration would trim the headline cost of the bill, potentially making it easier to pass. Progressives’ hopes would be that the programs would prove popular, leading to calls to extend them when the initial funding expires.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who also spoke on the call, said the time is long overdue for Manchin and Sinema to tell the rest of the party what they want included in the bill, which encompasses much of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

Biden earlier this month told Democrats the bill would need to be reduced to around $2 trillion, after Manchin and Sinema’s concerns.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)

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