Biden fails to interrupt the Democratic stalemate earlier than the infrastructure vote

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden spent his Thursday speaking with key senators and Democratic leaders in Congress trying to break an internal party stalemate that threatens his entire domestic agenda.

But just before midnight it was clear that neither Biden nor the Democratic leaders in Congress had managed to negotiate a deal between a group of progressive House MPs and two moderate Senate Democrats, each refusing to vote for the other ‘ Set priorities until your own goals are reached first.

“Much progress has been made this week and we are closer than ever to an agreement,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said late Thursday. “But we’re not there yet, and that’s why we will first need some time from tomorrow morning to finish the work.”

Biden’s schedule on Friday is open, as it has been this entire week. Psaki said Thursday that the president will be available to congressional leaders and key stakeholders in the House and Senate throughout the day.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the Capitol shortly after midnight on Friday morning, she told reporters, “There will be a vote today,” which means Friday.

For White House aides who were hoping for a last-minute breakthrough, Thursday’s postponed vote is a disappointment. The $ 500 billion infrastructure and jobs package is a pillar of Biden’s domestic agenda and fulfills the promises of the fundamental campaign he made.

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet on Nov.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

But Thursday’s failure to launch isn’t exactly a death knell for the bill itself. Its benefits and costs will be felt by Americans for the next decade or more, so it doesn’t matter whether it is Friday, next Monday, or the next Friday the House of Representatives happened.

With stakes this high, it’s no wonder the president has focused his energy almost entirely on Congress this week. On Monday and Tuesday he received the two most important senators, Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, for one-on-one talks at the White House.

A planned presidential trip to Chicago on Wednesday was canceled at the last minute to allow Biden to huddle with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the White House while his negotiators met with Sinema on the hill.

Much of Biden’s schedule was also left open on Thursday so that he could participate in the negotiations.

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Pelosi and Biden have tried to win support for the Infrastructure Bill among progressives who say they will not vote for it unless the House is also ready to pass a comprehensive budgetary vote bill to add to the social safety net and the Expand climate policy.

But fundamental parts of this bill are still being debated in the Senate. House progressives are concerned that if they vote to pass an infrastructure bill represented by moderates, they will lose whatever leverage they have to later get those moderates to support a transformative budget bill.

Progressives also insist that every budget reconciliation bill is at least $ 3 trillion and includes provisions like a free preschool and community college, childcare subsidies, and an expansion of Medicare to include dental, visual and hearing care.

But on Thursday Manchin released a signed agreement he’d made with Schumer more than two months ago in July that set out what Manchin would endorse in a draft budget.

The maximum total spend that Manchin would vote for is $ 1.5 trillion.

On Thursday night, Progressive and Manchin still seemed more than $ 1 trillion apart.

But when Pelosi left the Capitol, she told reporters, “We’re not a trillion dollars apart.” She did not elaborate on where the two sides had found common ground.

Pelosi’s iron optimism contrasts with the more sober assessments of some of her colleagues about the chances of the bipartisan infrastructure law.

On Thursday, a journalist asked House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Pelosi’s deputy, what he believed the chances of passing the infrastructure bill on Thursday evening.

“Are you confident that it will pass?”

“No,” replied Hoyer.

Still, many on Capitol Hill are betting that Pelosi will end up nailing the votes she needs to pass the infrastructure bill.

Her ability to find consensus within an often-divided Democratic faction is legendary, and she seemed to enjoy the high stakes and the ticking clock on Thursday.

“At the end, let me just tell you about the negotiations,” Pelosi told reporters. “You really have to weigh yourself up. You can’t get tired. You can’t give in. It’s fun.”

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