Despite delays with $3.5 trillion plan, US President Biden promises to ‘do it’
But that’s not happening right now.
Biden huddled with House Democrats on their turf in a private meeting Friday that was partly instructive and partly empowering for the tattered caucus of lawmakers, telling them he wanted both bills be adopted no matter how long it takes.
He discussed a compromise turnover of $1.9 trillion to more than $2 trillion for his larger vision, according to lawmakers in the room.
But it was clear they were all in it for the long haul as the White House and its congressional allies braced for lengthy negotiations.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks – we’re going to do it,” Biden told reporters as he left his late afternoon meeting on Capitol Hill.
It’s a pivotal time for the president and the party as Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted and Democrats are restless, eager to deliver on his campaign promise to rebuild the country.
His ideas go beyond road and bridge infrastructure to provide dental, vision and hearing care for the elderly, free pre-kindergarten for young people, major efforts to fight climate change and other investments that would touch countless American lives.
Biden’s sudden excursion to Capitol Hill was intended to give the legislation a much-needed boost toward the finish line. Democratic Holdout Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia had lost hope for a quick compromise on a framework when he refused to budge Thursday night on his demands for a smaller overall package, around $1.5 trillion. , despite hours of shuttle diplomacy with White House aides.
Without a broader agreement, the prospects for a Friday vote on the companion public works bill have been bogged down, with progressives refusing to lend their votes until senators reach a deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a late evening letter to her colleagues that “more time is needed” as they shape the larger package.
Instead, the House passed a 30-day stopgap measure to keep transportation programs going during the standoff, essentially setting a new deadline for the talks, Oct. 31.
The Senate was expected to follow with a vote on Saturday to end furloughs for more than 3,500 federal transportation workers, a byproduct of the political deadlock.
While Republicans are staunchly opposed to Biden’s radical vision, the president and his party are aiming for a giant legislative achievement on their own — all to be paid for by rewriting federal balance sheets with tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, those who earn over $400,000 a year.
As action stalled in Congress on Friday, Biden appeared to offer no particular new legislative strategy.
Keeping his promise to centrists, Pelosi had insisted there would be a ‘vote today’ on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but is trapped in the debate over Biden’s broader measure.
With Democratic progressives refusing to lend their support to this slimmer roads and bridges bill unless progress is made on Speaker Pelosi’s big bill — with such a slim majority in the House — was unwilling to call a vote.
Biden, in pushing for both bills to pass, gave a nod to the progressives’ strategy, while floating the lower numbers meant acknowledging compromise with the coming centrists.
“He’s been very clear that we need to move both bills forward,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Attention has returned to Manchin and, to some extent, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two centrist Democrats who helped push the $1 trillion public works bill through the Senate. but fear that Biden’s overall bill is too big.
Both senators have infuriated their colleagues with their tight negotiations that could hamper Biden’s efforts – and their own campaign promises.
After hours of negotiations that dragged on around midnight Thursday, Manchin said he could not yet compromise beyond his $1.5 trillion offer.
Biden, a six-term former senator making his first in-person visit to a House Democratic caucus, told lawmakers on Friday that “I know a little about the legislative process,” according to a person familiar with private remarks and granted the anonymity to discuss it.
Even a small bill can make historic investments in areas such as childcare, daycare and clean energy, he said.
Biden also relayed a story that seemed to mark the moment.
The president told them that when his White House office was remodeled, it hung with pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, presidents who led a “deeply divided country and the greatest economic transformation – and that’s exactly the kind of moment we’re in.” “said Rep. David Cicilline, DR.I.
The White House said the president plans to travel to other cities next week to make the case that his historic measures will help the American people.
Biden’s biggest proposal is a collection of Democratic priorities that have been in the works for years with an ultimate price he says is zero because tax revenue would cover spending costs — higher rates for companies earning more than $5 million per year, and individuals earning more than $400,000 per year, or $450,000 for couples.
Tensions soared on Wednesday night when Manchin sent a fiery statement calling the vast spending “fiscal madness”.
It is not just Manchin’s demands to reduce the overall size, but the conditions he insists on that annoy his more liberal colleagues. For example, he wants to make sure aid only goes to low-income people, rather than more Americans. And it stands up to some of the boldest efforts to tackle climate change.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., another progressive leader, fired back: “Trying to kill your party’s agenda is madness,” she said.
The total legislative effort tests not just Biden, but Pelosi and some of the leading Democratic Party figures whose legacies will be shaped by their success or failure.
“We fought for transformative legislation as you all know; those discussions have gone on month after month after month,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the budget committee and one of the leading progressive lawmakers. “It’s not a baseball game. It is the most important piece of legislation in 70 years.”
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