Biden: Will ‘work like hell’ to pass infra, social security bills | News

US President Joe Biden has acknowledged his frustration at the divisions in his Democratic Party over the two major bills.

US President Joe Biden has said he will “work like hell” to get an infrastructure bill and a bill of billions of dollars in social spending through Congress. However, he abstained from setting a new deadline.

“Everyone is frustrated, it’s part of being in government, being frustrated,” Biden told reporters on Saturday, acknowledging frustrations over divisions in his Democratic Party.

Biden visited the Capitol on Friday to try to end a fight between moderates and left-wing progressives in the Democratic Party that has threatened the two bills at the heart of his domestic agenda.

The president acknowledged criticism on Saturday that he had not done more to gain support for the bills by traveling around the country. He said there were many reasons for that, including his focus on hurricane and storm damage during recent trips.

Biden said he would travel to show why it is so important to clear the bills and clarify what they contain. He said the bills are designed to make life easier for ordinary Americans by making childcare affordable, for example.

US President Joe Biden talks to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as they walk away from a meeting with Democratic lawmakers in the US Capitol [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

“There is nothing in this legislation that is radical or unreasonable,” Biden said. “I’m going to try to sell what I think the people, the American people, will buy.”

Biden expressed confidence that both bills would be passed, but declined to set a deadline, like the November Thanksgiving holiday, for when that would happen.

“I believe I can pull this off,” Biden said.

Moderate vs Left Progressives

Moderate Democratic lawmakers wanted to vote immediately on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the House of Representatives already passed by the Senate, while progressives want to wait for agreement on a sweeping $3.5 trillion bill to support social spending and combat climate change.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said the infrastructure bill can’t wait for the social spending bill.

She told Democratic lawmakers in a letter Saturday that the House must pass the infrastructure bill “well before” Oct. 31, when the highway financing legislation expires. She said talks on the social spending bill are continuing. “We will and must approve both bills quickly.”

Progressive legislator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, listens to questions from reporters as she departs after a meeting between President Biden and Democratic lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hosted to promote a bipartisan infrastructure bill [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Biden, a former senator very familiar with the legislative process, told his caucus on Friday that they could postpone a vote on the smaller bill and scale the larger one down to about $2 trillion.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president and his team will remain in talks with members of the House and Senate throughout the weekend.

“And he looks forward to not only welcoming members to the White House next week, but also traveling across the country to defend his bold and ambitious agenda,” she said.

Meanwhile, the president said Saturday he hoped Republicans would not use a Senate filibuster to block attempts to raise the debt ceiling.

“That would be completely unreasonable,” he said.

The Treasury Department estimates it has until about Oct. 18 to raise the government’s $28.4 trillion loan limit by Congress or risk default that could lead to potentially catastrophic economic consequences.

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