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. With Republicans solidly opposed and no Democratic votes to spare, Biden canceled a Wednesday trip to Chicago that […]
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a centrist Democrat vital to the fate of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion domestic agenda, is surrounded by reporters outside the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Manchin and other senators were boarding a bus to attend a memorial service for the late Susan Bayh, the wife of former Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who died earlier in the year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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.
With Republicans solidly opposed and no Democratic votes to spare, Biden canceled a Wednesday trip to Chicago that was to focus on COVID-19 vaccinations so he could dig in for another day of intense negotiations with lawmakers ahead of crucial votes.
The stakes are as high as ever as Biden and his party try to accomplish a giant legislative lift, promising a vast rewrite of the nation’s balance sheet with an oh-so-slim majority in Congress. His idea is to essentially raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and use that money to expand government health care, education and other programs — an impact that would be felt in countless American lives.
In one sign of trouble ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Wednesday that she might delay an expected vote Thursday on a related $1 trillion public works measure that centrist senators want but that progressives are threatening to defeat unless there’s movement on Biden’s broader package.
It’s a pressure point on the senators and other centrist lawmakers to strike an agreement with Biden.
“We take it one step at a time,” said Pelosi, D-Calif., to reporters at the Capitol.
“I want it to pass,” Pelosi said of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. “So what we wanted to do is to pass tomorrow, and anything that strengthens the hand of a speaker, helps us.”
At the same time, Congress is courting a more immediate crisis. Republicans refuse to approve routine legislation to keep the government funded past Thursday’s fiscal yearend and raise the nation’s debt limit to avoid a dangerous default on borrowing. More votes were expected Wednesday and were likely to at least temporarily head off a catastrophe.
With Biden and his party reaching at the same time for what would be a signature policy accomplishment, there is a strong sense that progress is being made, said an administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the private talks.