Reuters File Photo: US President Joe Biden issued an update to the White House on October 1, 2021, regarding the administration’s response to coronavirus disease (Covid-1) and the vaccination program. Reuters / Leah Mills
Written by Trevor Hunikut, Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden’s negotiating prowess, revered in Congress for decades, was put to a serious test on Tuesday as he sought to persuade warring factions to agree on huge spending and infrastructure bills.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set October 31 as the deadline for the House to pass a ২ 1.2 trillion infrastructure deal that has already been approved by the Senate and has broad bilateral support. But that deadline seems increasingly unrealistic, according to sources briefed on discussions inside and outside the White House.
Biden on Tuesday met with a group of House progressive lawmakers, including Promilia Jaipal, chairman representative of the Progressive Caucus. The block is reluctant to pass the infrastructure bill, unless it is combined with a বি 3.5 trillion budget bill that will fund Biden’s campaign promises on climate, inequality and social programs.
Biden and White House officials have indicated they expect the spending bill to shrink from 3.5 3.5 trillion to 2 2 trillion, and have warned progressives that the smaller number is not negotiable. Biden was pushed to reduce the size and original cost of the bill.
White House spokeswoman Jane Sackie said meetings with Manchin and the cinema have progressed and various groups are “getting closer to the way forward.”
Biden was scheduled to meet with another group of moderates, including Senator Mark Warner, later Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are aiming to reach a framework agreement this week. Speaking to reporters after a closed-door luncheon with fellow Democrats and two independents associated with them, he said: “There was a universal agreement in that house that we have to come to an agreement and we want to get it done this week.”
One of the main selling points of Biden’s presidential campaign last year was his ability to find a middle ground during deep political polarization, his years as a moderate Democratic U.S. senator from Delaware.
The week of talks, which White House officials say has been fruitful, has failed to bridge the spending bill gap. Biden said on October 1 that he would find a deal “within six minutes, six days or six weeks,” but White House officials were increasingly concerned.
Administration officials have firmly refused to give details of the package’s specific components and possible trade closures – arguing that they do not want to discuss it in public.
Psyche said Biden is feeling a sense of urgency to move the process forward.
“These are serious policy discussions, often on flexible details. These are not conflicts between different factions of the party … The president has been building this approach in Washington for five decades, which is very good guidance on how to work,” he said.
Climate planning unresolved
It is increasingly seeing that Biden may be forced to attend a climate conference in Glasgow in early November, without confirming the key part of the law – spending billions of dollars on what he wants for his climate program.
The lack of specific U.S. legal changes to the climate could mean Biden’s failure to convince the world that “America is back” and that Republican Donald Trump’s four years of divisive global politics have once again failed an international player.
A senior administration official has slammed the notion that the failure to reach an agreement ahead of the G20 summit in Rome in late October and global climate talks in early November would undermine Biden’s credibility. “We’re in the middle of this process. It’s ongoing. People can see it,” the official said.
West Virginia Senator Manchin said Tuesday that he is not talking about carbon taxes in discussions on spending and infrastructure bills, even though his fellow Democrats in the Senate support it as a way to fight climate change.