‘Everyone is disappointed,’ Biden says as his agenda stalls

“Everyone is disappointed, it’s part of being in government, being disappointed,” Biden told reporters before leaving the White House for a weekend stay at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He pledged to “act like hell” to get two pillars of his domestic agenda passed into law, but refrained from setting a new deadline.

The president flew to Capitol Hill on Friday for a private meeting with House Democrats, partly a morale booster for a disgruntled party of lawmakers. According to lawmakers in the room, they discussed a $1.9 trillion to $2 trillion-plus price tag for a larger package that would expand the country’s social safety net.

The White House and its allies in Congress are ready for long talks. Biden said he would soon travel around the country to promote the law and acknowledged concerns that talk in Washington had focused on new spending in the bill and trillions in taxes.

He pledged to do more to educate the public about the plan’s new and expanded programs, which he argued had the support of the vast majority of voters.

“I’m going to try to sell what I think the American people will buy,” Biden said on Saturday. “I believe we’ll get it done when the American people know what’s in it,” he said.

The president said he believed the law would be signed next year with “plenty of time for people to change the tax code.”

This is a crucial time for Biden and the party. His approval rating has plummeted and Democrats are restless, eager to fulfill his signature campaign promise of rebuilding the country. His ideas go beyond road and bridge infrastructure, dental, vision and hearing care for senior citizens, free preschool, major efforts to combat climate change and other investments that will touch countless American lives.

Holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia dashed hopes of a swift settlement on a framework when he refused to budge late Thursday on his demands for a smaller overall package, about $1.5 trillion.

Without a comprehensive deal, the vote prospects on the Allied Public Works bill stalled as progressives refused to commit until senators reached agreement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told aides that “more time is needed” as they shape the broader package.

Pelosi, in keeping with her promise to centrists, insisted earlier on Friday that there would be a “vote today” on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but has been mired in debate over Biden’s sweeping measure. But with Democratic progressives refusing to voice their support for that thin roads and bridges bill, Pelosi was unwilling to call for the vote until the president’s advance on the larger bill.

In a letter to House Democrats on Saturday, Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats, “In honor of our colleagues who support the bills and are out of recognition for the need for both.”

Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, a prominent centrist Democrat who helped drive the public works bill to Senate passage but worries Biden’s overall bill is too large, delayed talks with the president on a bipartisan package were disappointed.

In a statement on Saturday, she said the canceled vote was “unforgivable, and deeply disappointing” and “erodes” the trust needed for “goodwill talks”.

With Republicans opposing Biden’s broad vision, the president and Democrats are reaching for a colossal legislative achievement on their own—all to be paid for by rewriting the federal balance sheet with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, who earn over $400,000 per year.

The bigger of Biden’s proposals is a one-year collection of Democratic priorities, with a final price tag of zero, as tax revenues will cover the cost of the spending.

“We will and will soon pass both bills,” Pelosi said in her letter. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so. People are waiting and wanting results.”

The White House and Democrats are also focused on raising the country’s borrowing limit before the United States defaults on its obligations — a deadline the Treasury Department estimates will be reached no earlier than October 18. The House has already taken action, but Republican senators indicated they would not vote for the bipartisan route and wanted Democrats to go it alone.

“I hope Republicans are not so irresponsible that they refuse to raise the debt limit and lower the debt limit,” Biden said on Saturday. “It would be completely unconscious. Never done that before. And so I hope it doesn’t.”


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