WASHINGTON, Sept.28 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden and his key aides on Tuesday pushed members of his own party to fund not only infrastructure but also his broader agenda as talks on bills for two were intensifying.
Biden met privately with lawmakers, including Conservative Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who balked at the size of the planned spending envelopes.
These White House meetings took place as Congress debated a $ 1 trillion bill on roads, bridges and pipelines that received support from some Democrats and Republicans, as well as a separate legislation investing $ 3.5 trillion in child care, health care and housing. Read more
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters after a meeting with Sinema ended without an apparent final agreement that the two Democrats had “agreed that we are at a crossroads.”
Biden, she said, “asked her team to follow up later this afternoon with her directly to continue the conversation,” but declined to comment on the state of the talks.
Leaders in both chambers have privately tried to push back Democrats’ concerns about their political position strong enough to pass both bills, as well as a package of emergency measures preventing the government from shutting down and defaulting on his debt.
Government funding is due to expire on Thursday. Its borrowing authority is due to expire on October 18.
A poll released Tuesday by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a think tank, revealed bipartisan support for many of the tax hikes Democrats have offered to pay for the $ 3.5 trillion bill. These measures include levies on foreign corporate income, increased enforcement of the Internal Revenue Service, and a commitment to increase taxes only on people earning more than $ 400,000 a year.
With the exception of some Senate Republicans who broke ranks to beef up the infrastructure measure, they have largely aligned with Biden’s spending program, as well as raising the country’s debt limit by 28.4 trillions of dollars to pay for programs already passed by Congress.
Democrats, meanwhile, only control the Senate and House of Representatives by narrow margins and are divided over how best to use that power ahead of next year’s election.
This left Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill with the task of convincing virtually his entire party delegation to back him.
Some Democratic lawmakers would prefer to support only the infrastructure measure. Others said they would only support the infrastructure bill if the broader social spending bill was passed as well.
“It would be a dereliction of duty for us to build America’s infrastructure without doing so in a way that significantly tackles the climate crisis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in these partner’work. “To do that, we need to pass the Build Back Better Act. As I write this, negotiations are being conducted by President Biden to advance his vision.”
Reporting by Susan Heavey, Nandita Bose, Susan Cornwell, David Morgan, Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicutt; Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Aurora Ellis
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