The US president makes a rare visit to Congress, but a gesture fails to convince Democrats to compromise on double spending.
Democrats in Congress have rescinded a planned vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to transform transportation networks and broadband access in the United States as lawmakers for the second day in a row refused to unite behind a double spending bill estimated to be was as much as $3.5. trillion.
Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the fickle House Democrats, pulled the vote late Friday as congressional leaders arbitrated disputes between the party’s centrists and left-wingers in both the House and Senate. Pelosi had previously postponed the vote on Thursday.
Democrats had spent much of the week sparring over the size of a $3.5 trillion companion bill for social spending, delaying the vote on the more popular infrastructure bill.
Earlier on Friday, President Joe Biden visited the US Congress to pressure his fellow Democrats to negotiate the double spending bills that could define his legacy — or spell crippling political failure.
“I’m telling you, we’re going to get this done,” he told reporters after meeting with House Democrats deeply divided over a deluge of spending that Biden believes would restore the battered American middle class.
“It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter if it’s in six minutes, six days or six weeks, we’ll get it done.”
The Reuters news agency quoted congressmen as saying Biden had told party members he was open to scaling back a bill to increase social spending and fight climate change, but wanted to pass it on equal terms with the infrastructure bill.
Biden’s rare visit to the Capitol capped off a tumultuous week in which lawmakers narrowly averted a government shutdown and postponed a House vote on the infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate.
The president told reporters after his 40-minute meeting with the rambunctious Democratic caucus that there was no rush to approve his agenda.
Legacy at stake
Biden’s political legacy is at stake, and so is likely Democrats’ chances of retaining control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
On Thursday, however, a game of chicken between moderate Democrats and more left-wing members over the bills ended in a deadlock.
Their wafer-thin Congressional majority means that even a few defectors can prevent the vote from succeeding.
President Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill to urge his fellow Democrats in Congress to overcome the divisions threatening his domestic agenda after the House of Representatives postponed a vote on his $1 trillion infrastructure bill https://t.co/xF3OCZTcvx pic.twitter.com/hlWjH1nPnx
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 1, 2021
The deadlock on the Democratic side is rooted in political disagreements over how much the government should spend, but also in the sheer lack of trust between competing factions.
On the one hand, moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have refused to support the proposed $3.5 trillion price tag for the social spending package.
However, they support something more modest, with Manchin proposing $1.5 trillion. They have also already voted for the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
In the House, a younger, fervent generation of more left-wing representatives is pushing to keep the $3.5 trillion figure for social spending, or at least something close.
And to maintain bargaining power, they are refusing to support the popular $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, saying it can only happen if they know they have a “yes” from the Democrat-controlled Senate to the social security deal. expenses.
“If there’s something else that doesn’t have a voice, that someone can offer me that gives me the same guarantees, I want to listen to that,” Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters, hinting that the left might be willing to make compromises.
“But right now I’m still saying we should vote.”