WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden vowed on Friday Democrats will pass sweeping legislation despite divisions between moderates and progressives that have put talks at a standstill.
Biden was on Capitol Hill Friday afternoon, meeting with members of the House Democratic Caucus and Democratic leaders. The meeting lasted around 45 minutes and did not leave some in his party happy and others confused about what is next in the process.
After the meeting, Biden emerged with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and vowed a deal will get done. Speaking to the media, he made clear it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.
“We’re going to get this done,” Biden told reporters. “It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t, whether it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks — we’re going to get it done.”
The major issue around the talks is the price tag of the bill. Progressive Democrats have said they will support the $3.5 trillion package but key moderates — Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — have said they won’t back the deal unless the price tag comes down.
Sinema met with Biden at the White House several times this week. Friday saw her on the phone with White House officials while she was in Arizona. Manchin said on Thursday he told the President in July that he would not vote for anything above $1.5 trillion and he reiterated that point on Thursday night.
Friday saw several lawmakers say the President had informed them they will likely find agreement between Progressives and moderates along the lines of $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion. Biden believes he can sway Manchin to support the $2.2 trillion figure.
Biden on Friday told House Democrats he would not sign the infrastructure bill without the Democrats’ larger social spending bill, even if it costs less than his proposed $3.5 trillion.
Politico reports the President told lawmakers the infrastructure bill “ain’t going to happen until we reach an agreement on the next piece of legislation.”
“Let’s try to figure out what we are for in reconciliation … and then we can move ahead,” Biden said, before adding that a bill smaller than his proposed $3.5 trillion “can make historic investments.”
Biden’s promise to pass both bills at the same time is a win for progressives and left moderates frustrated. Manchin said just 24 hours ago he believes Democrats should pass the infrastructure bill first.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said her side will have to come down from $3.5 trillion if they want this to pass, even if it is something they truly do not want to do.
“We’re gonna have to come down on our number and we’re gonna have to do that work,” Jayapal said.