Biden, pursuing his presidential campaign promise to make two years of community college tuition-free, called for a 10-year program that would cost $109 billion. The House Democrats, however, are proposing a much smaller program with a $45.5 billion price tag over five years.
When asked during a trip to Connecticut whether he would sign a budget reconciliation package that doesn’t include his proposal, Biden said that his program is unlikely to get fully funded because of the coming cuts to the $3.5 trillion package.
“It’s clear that it’s not going to be $3.5 trillion,” he said in remarks before leaving Connecticut. “So, the question is: How much of what is important do we get into the legislation? I’m of the view that it’s important to establish the principle on a whole range of issues without guaranteeing you get the whole 10 years.”
“I doubt whether we’ll get the entire funding for community colleges, but I’m not going to give up on community colleges as long as I’m president,” he added.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said over the weekend that he doesn’t recommend cutting any education programs.
“I don’t recommend any of them being cut,” Cardona said in an interview with Axios, when he was asked which education items he would recommend to be put on the chopping block.
“For far too long, it’s been predictable which students are going to be successful or not based on place and race,” he said. “The education package is an honest approach to level the playing field and lift our country.”
The president’s remark comes as Congressional Democrats and the White House try to figure out which spending programs should be cut out of the spending bill in order to secure enough votes to pass. Party leaders have said they might have to reduce the price tag of their $3.5 trillion proposal by $1 trillion or more, while the progressives seek to keep programs like housing aid and child care assistance.
“We’re having important discussions about what a package that is smaller than $3.5 trillion would look like,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week.
“What we have to do is work with a range of members who have a range of views about what should be included in the package; what is a priority to them so that we can make some fundamental changes,” she added.