Democrats offer mixed messages; Biden for domestic agenda

0
106

The White House and Democratic congressional leaders raced Wednesday to resolve lingering disputes on their giant social spending plan before President Joe Biden flies overseas — although several lawmakers signaled that a deal by day’s end looked impossible.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to colleagues that Biden’s domestic agenda was moving “closer to passing,” but a key centrist senator later dismissed a new tax on billionaires to help pay for the $1.5-$2 trillion package as a non-starter.

Biden hopes to use passage of the Build Back Better Act as evidence of the United States leading the world on global warming and other issues as he heads to a G20 summit in Rome and United Nations climate gathering in Glasgow.

White House aides were assessing the situation “hour by hour,” his spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Pelosi, the top House Democrat, has given lawmakers until at least the end of Thursday to ready their final language on the historic bill targeting climate change, child care, pre-school education and health care.

The mammoth package is crucial to another big win Biden had hoped to secure before jetting off to Rome — a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to transform US roads, bridges and broadband access.

The bills are linked because the Democratic left flank in the House is withholding its green light on the Senate-passed infrastructure legislation until progressives have seen a final text on Build Back Better, their top priority.

50-50 Senate

Weeks of negotiations between the party’s left and center have yet to produce consensus even on the price tag of the social welfare package, let alone the provisions it should include or how to pay for it.

Biden has no votes to spare in the 50-50 split Senate so any Democrat can tank any bill, throwing Biden’s domestic agenda into disarray.

In a tweet Wednesday evening, the president urged lawmakers to “bring these bills over the finish line.”

“Universal preschool. Historic climate investments. Lower health care costs,” he wrote, listing the bill’s major goals. “They’re all within our reach.”