Biden to meet Democrats to advance economic agenda


President Biden is expected to hold a series of meetings with Democratic lawmakers, including party leaders, on Wednesday as he works to ease deep divisions within his party over his multibillion national agenda. dollars.

In a series of Oval Office meetings throughout the day, Mr Biden is expected to meet with the two leading Democrats, President Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and separately with legislators from all ideological backgrounds. of his party, according to people familiar with the plans, who disclosed them on condition of anonymity.

The flurry of meetings comes as the two elements of its economic agenda – a bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill and a second massive $ 3.5 trillion social safety net program that supporters have l intent to pass with only Democratic votes – appear to be on a collision course, with moderate and liberal Democrats vying for influence in a tightly divided Congress.

Essentially, Mr. Biden’s entire agenda faces a watershed moment, with a series of political disagreements – over the breadth of all national policies and how to pay for and structure the programs he finance – obstructing action on any of them.

Lawmakers invited to negotiate with Mr. Biden in the Oval Office on Wednesday include centrist Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Mike Thompson of California and Stephanie Murphy of Florida, as well as Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent liberal from Vermont who chairs the budget committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, chairman of the finance committee and Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Democratic leadership are also expected to visit the White House, as do senators. Jon Tester, of conservative-leaning Montana, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, centrists who balked at the price of the social safety net plan, also plan to attend, according to their offices.

“We have to negotiate to move forward,” Tester said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s a big secret.”

Liberal Democrats in the House remain adamant they will withhold their votes on the infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, until this chamber approves the 3-pack. 500 billion dollars. Without their support, Democrats are almost certain they won’t get the votes they need to secure approval for the infrastructure measure in the House, where Pelosi has pledged to bring it forward by Monday.

Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat from California, said Wednesday morning that the Liberals could not negotiate a final package if more conservative Democrats did not come up with a counter-offer to the $ 3.5 trillion measure they accepted.

At the very least, he said, Democrats of all stripes need a rock-solid public agreement on a total spending count over 10 years and some basics that would be in the package, like a credit. expanded and permanent tax for child care, a par-the child tax credit and some aggressive climate change provisions, such as a clean energy standard.

Ms Jayapal is about to point out to Mr Biden that tying the infrastructure bill to social policy measure is not a matter of political haggling, but a substantive demand.

Liberal lawmakers, she argues, would not have agreed to a traditional infrastructure package funding roads, bridges and tunnels that will promote the use of fossil fuels unless they knew only a substantial measure against the climate change would also be adopted, to ensure that vehicles on these new highways would be electric, with a strengthened electric infrastructure to support them.

For weeks, progressives have insisted that their support for the infrastructure package is contingent on the reach and success of the larger package, which carries most of their ambitions. The Democrats plan to pass this bill through a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation that protects it from obstruction, but due to their narrow margins of control in the House and Senate, it can only be passed if virtually all members of their party support it.

While Ms Sinema and Mr Manchin have warned that they will not support such a large package and that moderates in the House are reluctant to vote on a measure that will not become law, Ms Pelosi said she will not proceed. to the reconciliation bill before it is clear what the Senate can adopt.

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