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Biden social policy bill revenue pegged at under $1.5 trillion

U.S. Senate Democrats hold weekly policy lunch at U.S. Capitol in Washington By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social-policy and climate-change legislation would raise less than $1.5 trillion in revenue, tax experts said on Thursday, but Democrats insisted the bill they aim to pass by Thanksgiving is fully paid for.

The official U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation issued a report scoring the "Build Back Better" legislation’s revenue provisions at $1.48 trillion over the next decade, some $270 billion short of the top-line spending figure.

But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, the chamber’s top Democrat on tax policy, told reporters the difference would be made up by provisions intended to enhance the Internal Revenue Service’s tax collection and to lower the cost of prescription drugs for the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly.

"The bill is paid for," Neal said. "The investment in IRS, that helps, and then the drug savings."

Neal spoke after a meeting of House Democrats, where committee chairmen briefed members on the legislation ahead of a potential floor vote that could come Thursday or Friday.

If passed by the House, the legislation would move on to the Senate, where the top Democrat said on Thursday that lawmakers would aim to enact it before the Nov. 25 Thanksgiving holiday.

If enacted, the legislation would raise $640 billion from tax increases on high-income individuals and $814 billion from corporate and international tax reforms from 2022 to 2031, the tax committee said.

"As the House prepares to move forward, the Senate continues to achieve progress in our goal of passing Build Back Better before Thanksgiving. That’s our goal," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in floor speech.

House Democrats, who have spent weeks bickering over the legislation, are looking to step up work on the bill after a sobering defeat for their party in Virginia’s gubernatorial election Tuesday.

Congress faces another pair of critical deadlines in less than a month: They set a Dec. 3 deadline to avoid a potentially economically devastating default on the federal government’s debt, as well as to avert a politically embarrassing government shutdown.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Macfie)

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