Progressive members of Congress expressed confidence after President Joe Biden visited the House Democratic caucus on Friday afternoon, saying he thinks he will succeed in passing the two key infrastructure bills that make up the president’s domestic agenda.
Mr Biden headed to his old stomping ground on Capitol Hill, where he served as a senator from 1973 to 2009 before his election as vice president, after Democrats voted late Thursday on a bipartisan infrastructure package. which had already passed the Senate in August.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially told liberals in her caucus for Thursday evening’s vote that the vote would take place this week.
But after progress in the House and Sen. Bernie Sanders announced opposition to the bill, Democrats want to pass through the Senate if it doesn’t include a larger social welfare bill. The larger bill would be passed through a process called conciliation, which requires only a 51-vote majority and bypasses a Republican filibuster.
White House officials met late Thursday with sans Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, both conservative Democrats who have objected to the cost of the reconciliation legislation. Both followed the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion price tag and Mr Manchin proposed reducing the package to $1.5 trillion.
the new York Times reported that Ms Sinema was on her way back to Arizona on Friday for a doctor’s appointment after a leg injury – and also a fundraiser with donors for her Political Action Committee at a resort.
Congress Progressive Caucus chairperson Rep. Pramila Jayapal praised the President after the meeting.
“The president was brilliant,” she said Granthshala After talks with the President, leaving for a meeting with the Caucus. “We’re both bringing the bill to his table. And that’s what he wants. That’s his agenda.”
Reuben Gallego, who prefers Ms. Cinema to the state of Arizona, said Mr. Biden told progressives to look for numbers less than $3.5 trillion, but did not give a specific price tag.
“He was very specific, he said we want us to look at policy first and work on the math,” Gallego told reporters. But Mr Gallego also said Mr Biden had “no confidence” that if the bipartisan deal passed first “reconciliation would also pass”.
Her comments were held closer to the vest to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who declined to reveal what she told the president. She said the final dollar figure for the larger reconciliation bill was still “under negotiation” among Democratic caucuses, but she felt optimistic.
“I think it was positive,” she told reporters. “I still feel good about where we are.”
Ayana Pressley of Massachusetts, another member of the so-called “squad” that includes Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, was also more reserved, but seemed to be on a practical note.
“We have more work to do,” she said Granthshala But said he did not think there would be a vote on infrastructure on Friday evening. “There’s overwhelming consensus that we need to pass both. It’s still true.”
On the way to the meeting with the Progressives, Rep. Mondaire Jones told Rep. Jamie Ruskin that he felt “great” about the discussion with the Progressives. Mr Ruskin said Democrats would eventually pass the entire package.
“It’s a little messy because we’re Democrats, because we’re the people’s party,” he said. “But in the final analysis, we’re going to bring it all together and we’re going to deliver.”
Moderate Democrats said Mr Biden wanted to build a consensus. Texas Representative Henry Kueller, whose 2020 primary rival Ms Ocasio-Cortez endorsed, said the president tried to ask progressives to come down to $3.5 trillion. Mr Kueller said Mr Biden threw away $1.9 trillion, or $2 trillion.
“They threw it at the progressives and then they told us, we need both bills,” he said. Asked whether there would be a vote for infrastructure on Friday night, Mr. Kueller said, “I don’t think so.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Joe Biden