WASHINGTON — President Biden and his aides went to great lengths on Wednesday to salvage Biden’s economic agenda in Congress, trying to even start a compromise between moderates and progressives over a few bills that would spend trillions to rebuild infrastructure, expand access to education, combat climate change, and more.
Mr Biden canceled a planned trip to Chicago, where he planned to promote Covid-19 vaccinations, to continue talking to lawmakers during a critical week of House deadlines. A pivotal holdout vote in the Senate, Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona centrist, was due to visit the White House Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the meeting said.
Ms. Sinema was one of the Democratic champions of a bipartisan bill, brokered by Mr. Biden, to spend more than $1 trillion over the next few years on physical infrastructure such as water pipes, roads, bridges, electric vehicle charging stations and broadband internet. That bill passed the Senate this summer. This week there will be a vote in the House of Representatives. But progressive Democrats have threatened to block it unless accompanied by a more comprehensive bill that covers much of the rest of Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda, such as universal kindergarten and free community college, a host of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. and reduce tax breaks for workers and families designed to fight poverty and increase employment.
Understand the infrastructure bill
- A trillion dollar pack has passed. The Senate approved a sweeping bipartisan infrastructure package on Aug. 10, ending weeks of intense negotiations and debates about the largest federal investment in the country’s aging public works system in more than a decade.
- The final vote. The final score in the Senate was 69 for and 30 against. The legislation, which has yet to pass the House, would affect nearly every facet of the US economy and bolster the country’s response to global warming.
- Main spending areas. In general, the two-pronged plan focuses on spending on transportation, utilities, and cleaning up pollution.
- transport. About $110 billion would go into roads, bridges and other transportation projects; $25 billion for airports; and $66 billion for railroads, giving Amtrak the most funding it has received since its founding in 1971.
- Utilities. Senators also committed $65 billion to connect hard-to-reach rural communities with high-speed internet and help enlist low-income urbanites who can’t afford it, and $8 billion for western water infrastructure.
- Cleaning up pollution: About $21 billion would go toward clearing abandoned wells and mines, and Superfund sites.
Ms. Sinema and another Senate centrist, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, have expressed reservations about the scope of that larger bill and objected to the $3.5 trillion price tag Democratic leaders have attached to it. Moderates in the House and Senate, led by Ms. Sinema, have opposed many of the tax hikes for high earners and corporations that Mr. Biden has proposed to offset spending and tax cuts in the bill, in order to prevent the budget from falling further. further increases deficit.
Mr Biden has so far failed to convince Ms Sinema and Mr Manchin to publicly agree to a framework for how much they are willing to spend and what taxes they are willing to raise to fund the more comprehensive bill. If Mr Biden can’t find a way to allay their concerns while calming progressives and convincing them to back his infrastructure bill, he could see the warring factions in his party change his entire economic agenda in the span of a few days. destroy.
Some Democrats have complained this week that the president has not satisfactorily engaged in talks, although he cleared his agenda this week in hopes of closing a deal. For example, he welcomed groups of progressives and moderates to the White House last week, but met each individually, as opposed to a group negotiation session.
Both Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin visited the White House on Tuesday, but after their meetings, neither they nor White House officials would outline the outline of a bill they could support.
“The president thought it was constructive, felt they pushed the ball forward, felt there was an agreement, that we were at a pivotal moment,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday, who told the press. characterize meetings. “It’s important to continue to complete the path forward to get the job done for the American people.”
White House officials said late Tuesday that Mr. Biden remained in regular contact with a wide range of Democrats, including phone calls with progressives, and that he would have more talks on Wednesday.