President Joe Biden says talks over his $3.5 trillion Reconstruction plan have hit a “stagnation” in Congress as he restarts the country’s tax and spending programs and overhauls what he sees as broad, overdue investments , made the case for his extensive effort to make him.
Biden spoke in the White House as Democrats in the House and Senate are laboring to eliminate the draft and address differences between centrist and liberal factions of the party. Despite efforts by the president and congressional leaders to show progress, Biden took a long and potentially cumbersome road ahead, with an upcoming deadline on Friday.
“We’re landing in a tough spot here,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We are at this standstill at the moment.”
Biden said the process is “going to be up and down” but “hopefully at the end of the day I’ll be able to finish what I’m saying.”
The president’s acceptance of the Democrats’ dissent – and they have serious differences over taxes, health, climate change and the ultimate price tag – contrasts with the more upbeat tone of congressional leaders in recent days. Using carefully chosen words, top Democrats are trying to create a sense of momentum as House votes approach.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., predicted the passage of both pillars of Biden’s domestic agenda. One is a still-evolving $3.5 trillion package of social safety nets and climate programs, the other a separate $1 trillion measure financing highways, internet and other infrastructure projects that have already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
“We are going to pass both bills,” she told reporters.
But he did not say how he and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., would resolve disagreements and mistrust between the liberal and progressive wing of his party, which has stalled both measures. And there was confusion about the voting schedule, which would be important.
Pelosi promised House moderators last month that by this Monday the chamber would consider the infrastructure bill, the centrists’ top priority.
But progressives are threatening to vote the final version of their favorite – the $3.5 trillion social and environmental bill – to derail infrastructure legislation until the Senate passes and returns to the House. Progressives think that delaying the Public Works Bill will put pressure on the moderates to support the larger measure.
“We’re bringing the bill, we’ll have a vote when we have a vote,” Pelosi told a reporter on Friday about the timing of the infrastructure bill. While he said the debate would begin on Monday, his comments suggested that the final passage of the Public Works Act could slip.
Pelosi also told reporters that the “plan” was for his chamber to consider a $3.5 trillion package next week as well. It was unclear how House-Senate bargainers would settle their differences on that bill so quickly.
The president said his private meetings with some two dozen Democratic lawmakers this week went well in efforts to accelerate progress and close the deal – described the tone as collegial and there was “no outcry”. .
But as lawmakers objected to the broad and scope of the plan, which is to be funded by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, Biden said he tried to focus them on priorities — what they can do and what. No.
“It’s about paying your fair share, for God’s sake,” Biden said. “Clearly enough out of the options, enough to pay for whatever it is.”
In a harsh reality check, Biden suggested the talks could drag on until the end of the year. “It’s going to take some time,” he said.
Lawmakers are working nonstop and Biden is under pressure to close the deal. Pelosi met with her leadership team at the Capitol on Friday, and the House Budget Committee called for a rarity to take strictly procedural steps to send the $3.5 trillion bill drafted by 13 other House panels to full chamber without change. Saturday session planned.
Before the House votes on that measure, the Senate is sure to change it more than once, perhaps more than once, to reflect the agreement the Democrats have reached.
Biden’s larger vision on the promise of his “Build Back Better” campaign proposes an expansion of health, education and federal programs with more services for Americans of all ages, while investing heavily in efforts to combat climate change. All of this would be largely offset by increasing tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals who make more than $400,000 a year, or more than $450,000 for married couples.
But centrist Democrats see the overall price tag as too high, while progressive lawmakers are hesitant to make any further compromises after abandoning already more ambitious ideas.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Joe Biden