WASHINGTON (AP) — Pressure mounting but with signs of progress, President Joe Biden is hunkering down at the White House to try to strike a deal and win over two holdout Democratic senators whose support is needed for his potentially historic $3.5 trillion government overhaul.
Biden cancelled Wednesday’s trip to Chicago to discuss COVID-19 vaccinations. He wanted to be able to continue negotiations with lawmakers before crucial votes.
Biden and his party attempt to make a major legislative overhaul. He promises a dramatic rewrite in the country’s balance sheets with a slim majority of Congressmen. His plan is to increase taxes on corporations and wealthy, and to use the money to expand government healthcare and education programs. It would impact countless American lives.
As a sign of trouble ahead, Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker suggested Wednesday that she might postpone Thursday’s vote on the $1 trillion related public works measure. The senators from the centrist party want it. However, progressives have threatened to defeat it unless Biden’s wider package is passed.
It is a pressure point for senators and other centrist politicians to agree with Biden.
To reporters at Capitol, Pelosi, D.Calif., said, “We take it step by step.”
Pelosi stated that she wanted the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to pass. “So we wanted it to pass tomorrow. Anything that strengthens the hand a speaker helps us.
Congress is also trying to solve a much more urgent crisis. Republicans won’t approve routine legislation to fund the government beyond Thursday’s fiscal-yearend. The Republicans also refused to raise the national debt limit to avoid a default on borrowing. Wednesday was expected to see more votes, which could at least temporarily avert a catastrophe.
An administration official, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that there is a strong sense of progress, with Biden and his party reaching simultaneously for what would be a landmark policy achievement.
All eyes are now on the Sens. Senators Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silena from Arizona both say that Biden’s plan costs too much but they are not willing to give details.
On Tuesday, the president met with two centrist senators at White House. Democrats are ready to reduce the massive measure’s tax proposals as well as spending goals in order to reach the total size they demand.
Manchin stated to reporters at the Capitol that they had had a productive meeting with Biden. He denied that he had given the president a new number.
Biden’s issues with fellow Democrats extend beyond the Senate. A small group of centrist House Democrats are protesting the wide-reaching reach of Biden’s domestic agenda, and demanding reforms. Progressive lawmakers caution against cutting too much because they already have made enough concessions.
Progressives are applying pressure and threatening to withhold their support for Thursday’s vote on the $1 trillion companion public works measure. They claim it is too small without Biden’s larger package.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that “We are obviously at a very sensitive moment.” She said that the president is not going to tell anyone what they should do. He is going to have a dialogue, engage.
All of this puts the Biden agenda at risk. It will impact his presidency and the political futures for the lawmakers.
Janet Yellen, Treasury secretary, wrote Tuesday to Congress that Oct. 18 was a critical date. It is the date when the Treasury Department will likely exhaust any “extraordinary measures” taken to prevent default on government obligations.
Yellen urged Congress not to delay in raising the debt limit or suspending it to “protect the whole faith and credit” of the United States.
Faced with Republican opposition, Democrats are seperating the two. This allows them to remove the more heated debate over the debt ceiling for another day, closer towards an October deadline.
The Senate is expected to quickly vote to approve funding for the government to prevent a shutdown of federal operations after Sept. 30, fiscal year. The House may follow.
A possible vote to extend debt limit through December 16 is being prepared by the House, which Democrats are likely support. Even if the House approves the bill, it’s uncertain if it will pass the Senate due to GOP obstruction.
Tensions are raging at the Capitol as Biden’s agenda becomes more clear amid standoff over routine votes and government operations.
Senator Republican leader Mitch McConnell became irritated with reporters when he was asked about Yellen’s warning to Congress that it must resolve the problem quickly.
McConnell replied, “Officially the debt limit must be increased.” He insisted that Democrats take on the unpopular vote.
The behind-the-scenes action surrounding the $3.5 trillion measure is putting Biden’s hand to the test as he seeks a once in a generation reworking of the nation’s tax priorities.
The big bill is being opposed by all Republicans, so Democratic leaders cannot spare a single vote from the 50-50 Senate. Instead, they rely on Vice-President Kamala Harris to break the tie and pass the eventual package.
John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, physically blocked the bill’s 2,000+ pages. He said it was only “big government socialism”.
Biden insists that the price tag will not be high because government expansion would be paid for largely by higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations. This includes individuals and businesses making more than $5million a year and those earning more $400,000 per year. For couples, the cost of the bill is $450,000.
According to those who have been familiar with the process, it is not necessary that specific programs are axed in order to lower the cost and win over centrist Democrats. Instead, lawmakers are seeking ways to alter the length and scope of Biden’s proposed programs.
Rep. Pramila Jaipal, D. Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus stated that they have enough votes to kill the other bill if it is not accompanied by Biden’s broader proposal — tacit pressure for the holdouts to agree to a deal. I-Vt. senator Bernie Sanders supported that position and called for a no vote.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Kevin Freking, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.