Universal Pre-K, Free College, Teacher Incentives: Here's What's in Biden's $1.8T 'Families' Plan

President Joe Biden is expected to outline a $1.8 trillion proposal that would expand access to early childhood education, provide tuition-free community college and give incentives to teachers, among its many provisions, when he gives his first address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

The American Families Plan, as it has been dubbed, also includes funding for child care programs, paid family leave and nutrition programs. Nearly half of the 10-year plan is aimed at tax breaks for families.

A senior administration official previewing Biden's address for reporters called it a "once-in-a-generation" investment.

"The American Families Plan invests in our children and our families, helping families cover the expenses that so many struggle with now: lowering health insurance premiums; cutting child poverty; and producing a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce in the years ahead," the official said.

Among proposals that it contains are universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and two years of community college for anyone who wants it. The Biden administration is touting those provisions together as the equivalent of four free years of school for everyone. Additionally it calls for the Pell Grant to be doubled to further aid low-income students.

An estimated 9.3 million children would benefit from provisions that would expand the number of schools in low-income areas that are able to provide free and reduced school lunches and launch a $1 billion healthy foods incentive demonstration.

"All of which are aimed at not just tackling hunger, but improving nutrition and long-term health outcomes for today's children and tomorrow's adults," the official said.

For teachers, Biden's calling for a boost to scholarships for people who enter the teaching field and more money for educators who want to obtain additional certifications.

On the tax side, it calls for extending tax credits tied to the federal Affordable Care Act and Child Tax Credit increases, and it would make the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion for childless workers permanent.

Biden is expected to pitch the proposal, which would require Congress' approval, as an extension of efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic. Biden's handling of COVID-19 has been politically popular, multiple polls have found.

But Republicans already are bristling at the hefty price tag of his latest proposal, which is the third nearly $2 trillion package he's asked Congress to pass since taking office in January. Lawmakers narrowly passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package last month. The White House has since proposed another $2 trillion for infrastructure and jobs, which remains in limbo as lawmakers work to hash out a final agreement on its scope.

"To put that in context, our total federal budget that we vote on every year is $1.4 [trillion] or $1.5 trillion, so it's a massive amount of spending," U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, told reporters at the Capitol ahead of Biden's address. "I think maybe if [Biden] were younger, I'd say his dad needs to take away the credit card."

Others have defended the families package as a starting point for negotiations on priorities.

"What the executive branch is doing is offering a framework and then we're going to do our job," U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, told reporters.

Joe Biden Gives Congress American Families Plan
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters at an event in front of the White House April 27. Biden's American Families Plan, as it has been dubbed, includes funding for child care programs, paid family leave and nutrition programs. Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images