President Biden and his team are expected to continue negotiating with Democrats on Thursday as they rush to overcome entrenched divisions over his multibillion-dollar domestic policy agenda.
While the White House did not immediately identify who would attend the meetings, officials said discussions would focus on advancing a two-party $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill and a second one. $ 3.5 trillion domestic policy plan.
Party leaders now hope to meet around a compromise on the domestic policy package by Monday, when a vote is scheduled on the infrastructure measure. But agreeing on a total cost, which programs to include and which to get rid of, and how to pay for them will involve painful choices for an already divided caucus.
Thursday’s White House talks come after Mr Biden spent much of Wednesday in meetings with Democratic leaders and nearly two dozen lawmakers, listening to concerns of rival factions in his party over his two main national priorities. Moderates are pushing for swift action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate, while progressives have pledged to withhold votes for the measure until approval of the much larger net measure social security system which must include vast new investments in climate, education, health and social programs.
Mr Biden urged moderates who balked at the size of this package to come up with an overall level of spending they could support, as well as the priorities they wanted to see funded, according to senators and aides.
Democrats aim to pass legislation on a party line vote using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation that shields it from obstruction and allows it to pass a simple majority vote. But because of the tight margins of control over Capitol Hill, Mr. Biden needs the support of all Senate Democrats and can lose as few as three in the House to get the plan passed.
“Democrats have all indicated that we are working and are ready to work on a reconciliation bill,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, a moderate who initially pushed for a quick vote on the measure. bipartite infrastructure. “When you talk about a bill that touches all aspects of American life, we should take all the time necessary to make sure that we are crafting a good bill that achieves the objectives it seeks. “
But progressive lawmakers who want to see the reconciliation bill completed first urged Biden on Wednesday to lobby Democratic House leaders against holding a vote on the infrastructure bill on Monday. Fearing that their more conservative colleagues will refuse to back the broader plan once the infrastructure measure is enacted, Liberal Democrats have said they will withhold their votes for the bill until the reconciliation plan clears Congress. .
“They raised their concerns and the president said, ‘Let me think, let me talk to the president and the majority leader,'” Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden told reporters. and chairman of the finance committee. Wednesday evening. “He made no commitment,” he added. “He heard us.
Mr Wyden said the president was in “vintage Joe Biden, let’s go” mood.