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Build Back Better bill shows new progress in U.S. House; sticking points remain

By Richard Cowan and Makini Brice

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Build Back Better bill shows new progress in U.S. House; sticking points remain
© Reuters. U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is flanked by U.S. Senators’ Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as he faces reporters following the Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 2, 202

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By Richard Cowan and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One day after Senator Joe Manchin appeared to stymie efforts to advance a bill that is a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, the measure showed new promise for moving to the full House of Representatives for a vote on passage.

Democrats on Tuesday sought to conclude negotiations surrounding Biden’s Build Back Better plan, a $1.75 trillion framework on social spending and climate change that he unveiled last week. On Monday, influential Democrat Manchin refused to commit to support the legislation, rebuffing a previous demand by progressives.

Yet in the House, the bill showed signs of moving forward following a series of stops and starts in closed-door negotiations.

Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, told reporters the bill could be ready for his panel to process and send to the full House this week.

“Not today, but maybe tomorrow,” McGovern said of the possible timing.

His comments came as Democrats cited progress on two controversial items that had been sticking points – prescription drug pricing and loosening a cap on state and local tax deductions, often referred to as SALT, which is important to high-tax coastal states that help comprise the Democratic Party’s base.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told a news conference that Democrats had reached a deal to lower prescription drug pricing.

The agreement included measures to impose a cap on annual out-of-pocket spending and to allow Medicare, the American health insurance program for the elderly, to negotiate drug prices.

“Fixing prescription drug pricing has consistently been a top issue for Americans year after year, including the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans who want to see a change because they simply cannot afford their medications,” said Schumer.

TAXES, IMMIGRATION AND CHILD CARE

Elsewhere, Jimmy Gomez, a California congressman and a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he thought a measure changing the 2017 cap on state and local tax deductions – imposed during a tax overhaul signed by then-President Donald Trump – would be inserted into the bill.

“There are too many members in the New Jersey and New York delegations” seeking that to ignore the matter, Gomez said.

Josh Gottheimer, Tom Suozzi and Mikie Sherrill, three lawmakers from New York and New Jersey who had been vocal proponents for repealing the cap, called the status of negotiations “encouraging.”

Following a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, some lawmakers said Pelosi might seek House passage as soon as Thursday on both a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package passed earlier in the summer by the Senate and the Build Back Better legislation, although it was not certain that such a swift schedule could be achieved.

Indeed, some outstanding issues remained.

Progressives have sought to include changes to the immigration system in the reconciliation bill. But that could make for a difficult vote for Democrats in predominantly Republican states, Gomez said, and would be subject to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian on whether it could be included.

Separately, Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive (NYSE:) Caucus, said negotiators were working on the details of implementing a new child care benefit so that the government could “get benefits out to people as quickly as possible.”

It was also unclear whether an expansion of Medicare — a demand of Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives — would make it into the bill, Jayapal said.

A group of five moderate lawmakers – enough to potentially sink a bill in the closely divided House – wrote in a letter to Pelosi on Tuesday that they could not back the reconciliation bill without an estimate of how it would affect the budget and at least 72 hours to review it.

It is not clear when the budget scores by the Congressional Budget Office or the Joint Committee on Taxation would be ready. Such demands, if accepted by the speaker, would mean it would be impossible to pass the legislation in the House this week.

Economy

Oil Russia ban news: Russia will ban the sale of its oil to countries that have imposed a price ceiling

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Will Russia sell oil to Europe? The administration of President Vladimir Putin is preparing an order prohibiting Russian companies and any trader from buying Russian oil to sell raw materials to countries and companies that have imposed a price ceiling on Moscow. Bloomberg news agency wrote this, citing a report from sources.

“The Kremlin is preparing a presidential decree banning Russian companies and any traders buying national oil from selling it to anyone who participates in the price ceiling,” the publication wrote.

According to the newspaper’s interlocutors, this would prohibit any mention of the price ceiling in contracts for Russian crude, as well as transferring it to countries that have joined the price ceiling for the natural resource.

In the first half of September, the press service of the US Treasury Department said that the USA, together with its allies from G7 (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, France and Japan) and the European Union (EU) would impose a ban on marine transportation of Russian oil on December 5 and oil products – on February 5.

Earlier we reported that EU negotiations on limiting the prices of Russian oil reached a deadlock today.

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Economy

EU talks on restrictions on Russian crude oil prices today stalled

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Negotiations between the European Union countries about the “ceiling” of Russian crude oil prices today reached an impasse; Bloomberg reported, according to its sources.

Representatives of the bloc cannot reach an agreement on the ceiling price of Russian oil. According to the agency, the proposed European Commission limit of $65-70 per barrel, Poland and the Baltic countries believe “too generous,” while Greece and Malta, which is actively engaged in transporting fuel, do not want the limit to fall below $ 70. Recall that the Russian response to the oil price cap was negative. The Russian government has officially said that it will only sell oil at market prices.

“We are looking for ways to make this solution work and we are trying to find a common ground to implement it in a perfectly pragmatic and efficient way, while avoiding that it may cause excessive inconvenience to the European Union,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Earlier, we reported that the SEC fined Goldman Sachs $4 million for non-compliance with ESG fund principles.

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Economy

More than 50% of Germans said they had given up shopping for new clothes and electronics. Is Germany’s economy failing?

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is germany's economy failing

Die Welt newspaper cited a survey by the consulting company EY and said that about 56% of Germans who took part in the survey said that they had practically refused to buy new clothes.

Also, 56% of German consumers reported that they now refrain from buying televisions, smartphones, laptops and game consoles. Also, nearly one in two now uses less gasoline, and one in four said they are saving on medications.

What caused the economic crisis in Germany? The main reason is the war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions by the EU. Also, every second respondent reported that at the moment he could buy only the essentials. According to EY analysts, German households plan to further reduce spending in the coming months. In particular, they plan to save money on food delivery and entertainment.

Earlier, we reported that prices for liquefied natural gas in Asia reached their highest since October.

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