Biden urges fractious Dems to unite around $1.75T megabill

October 29, 2021

President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to propel their party toward a House vote as soon as Thursday, October 28, on a $550 billion Senate-passed infrastructure bill, even as progressives remain undecided about taking what one called “a leap of faith in the president,” reports Politico.

Soon after the White House outlined a framework for a $1.75 trillion deal on social spending, Biden made a high-stakes appearance on Capitol Hill to sell Pelosi’s caucus on it. While some liberal priorities were included in the package of climate, healthcare, and other social policy investments, others were left on the cutting-room floor—and, Politico said, House progressives remain noncommittal about whether to vote yes on infrastructure given their uncertainty about the framework’s Senate future.

The most expensive items in Biden’s proposal are clean energy and climate investments, at $555 billion; two years of free pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds at $400 billion; and $200 billion on tax credits for one year of the Child Tax Credit. The biggest items left out are paid family leave and prescription drug reform. On the latter, a senior administration official made clear there are “not yet enough votes” for it.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus held its own meeting after Biden left, as its chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) held off on where her group stood after the president’s pitch for its votes. Another of her members, Representative Cori Bush (D-Missouri), said simply “no” when asked if she would vote for the infrastructure bill after the president’s push.

“We have had a position of needing to see the legislative text and voting on both bills,” Jayapal said, referring to the infrastructure bill and the separate, still-unwritten social spending bill. “And we’ll see where people are. But I think a lot of people are still in that place.”

According to Politico, Jayapal spoke after Biden made a direct plea for his party’s support. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” Biden told Democrats, according to a source in the room.

Indeed, top Democrats, including Pelosi, had hoped that the president’s trip to Rome for the climate summit—which he departed for later in the day on Thursday—would be a triumphant one after they clinched an agreement on the roughly $1.75 trillion social spending bill with moderate Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona).

Sinema indicated she’s warm on the emerging deal, saying in a statement that “I look forward to getting this done.”

“We’re very excited about it. We’re going to send him off to his meetings with strength,” Pelosi said of Biden’s visit as she entered the Capitol. Asked whether progressives were on board, she said, “You’ll have to ask them.”

Research contact: @politico

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