aljazeera.com
News|Politics
US Democrats seek deal on Biden’s $3.5-trillion social agenda
Democrats are struggling to bridge differences between two key centrist senators and a faction of House progressives.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late on Thursday that discussions were continuing with the House, Senate and White House [Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters]
1 Oct 2021
White House officials and Democrats in the United States Congress are negotiating terms of a framework deal on President Joe Biden’s ambitious social and climate proposals as they seek to overcome a stalemate within their own party.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a planned vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill late on Thursday as the party struggled to bridge differences between two key centrist Democratic senators and a faction of progressive House members.
The two sides appeared far apart, with conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin saying he would only agree to $1.5 trillion in spending, not Biden’s proposed $3.5-trillion investment over 10 years.
“We need a little bit more time. We’re getting that time in order to do it. We’re gonna come to an agreement,” Senator Manchin told reporters as he left the US Capitol after meeting with White House officials on Thursday night.
“I’m trying to make sure they understand that I’m at $1.5 trillion. I think $1.5 trillion does exactly the necessary things we need to do. It’ll take care of our children, It’ll take care of our people at the end of life, our seniors and we’re working hard on that,” said Manchin.
With the 100-seat US Senate divided equally between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, Democrats hold the narrowest of majorities; Vice President Kamala Harris casts a tie-breaking vote.
That means that without Republican support, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer needs complete unity from his caucus in order to pass Biden’s spending plan.
So far 48 Democratic senators support Biden’s proposal, but Manchin and fellow centrist Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have balked at the size and scope of the investment.
Adding further pressure to the negotiations, a group of about 30 progressive Democrats in the 435-seat House have refused to allow a $1-trillion infrastructure bill to pass unless there is an ironclad deal reached with Manchin and Sinema to advance Biden’s agenda.
Biden held talks with lawmakers at the Capitol later on Friday in an unusual move for the president, who usually hosts Congress members at the White House. “We’re going to get it done,” Biden told reporters as he was leaving Capitol Hill.
Citing a Congress member, Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan said Biden had a “packed room” in the House of Representatives.
“It looks as if for the moment there’s simply more negotiating going on,” Jordan said. “This also of course involves a couple of very conservative members of Senate Democrats in the process. But for now, the talking still goes on, and these two key parts of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda have yet to be passed.”
White House officials, Brian Deese, director of the president’s National Economic Council, and Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, met behind closed doors with Manchin and Sinema at the Capitol on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Biden has been calling key senators and members of the House, White House spokesman Jen Psaki said.
Democratic holdout Senator Joe Manchin has proposed a $1.5-trillion spending package, $2 trillion less than United States President Joe Biden’s proposal [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]
In a note to Democratic members on Thursday night, Pelosi cited “momentum” and called it a day of progress. “Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill,” she wrote.
A vote on the $1-trillion infrastructure bill was possible on Friday but appeared improbable with progressives still unhappy with Manchin’s $1.5-trillion offer on social and climate spending.
Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Representative Pramila Jayapal told reporters outside Pelosi’s office that the progressives’ views were unchanged: they would not vote for one bill without the other and would stay all weekend to get a deal.
“Inaction is insanity,” said Minnesota’s Representative Ilhan Omar, the progressive caucus whip, who criticised Manchin’s position. “Trying to kill your party’s agenda is insanity. Not trying to make sure the president we all worked so hard to elect, his agenda pass, is insanity.”
While both sides are throwing around big numbers that amount to billions in annual spending, Biden has insisted the price tag actually will be zero because the expansion of government programmes would be largely paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
RELATED
Biden signs bill avert­ing US gov­ern­ment shut­down
US Sen­ate and House pass tem­po­rary fund­ing bill hours be­fore mid­night dead­line, send­ing mea­sure to the White House.
30 Sep 2021
US House pan­el sub­poe­nas or­gan­is­ers of Jan­u­ary 6 Trump ral­ly
Com­mit­tee prob­ing dead­ly Capi­tol riot seeks in­ter­views, doc­u­ments from ac­tivists who or­gan­ised for­mer pres­i­dent’s ral­ly.
30 Sep 2021
US po­lice killings vast­ly un­der­count­ed by fed­er­al gov’t: Study
Re­searchers de­ter­mine fed­er­al count does not re­flect 55 per­cent of deaths where po­lice vi­o­lence played a role.
1 Oct 2021
MORE FROM NEWS
UN chief calls on Taliban to uphold women’s rights
Prepare for liftoff: Fed signals rate hike could happen ‘soon’
US Supreme Court Justice Breyer to retire, giving Biden a pick
Qatar’s foreign minister set to visit Iran to meet top officials
MOST READ
US offers Russia ‘serious diplomatic path’ over Ukraine
A simple guide to the Ukraine-Russia crisis: 5 things to know
Infographic: Military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine
In Afghanistan, Taliban diktat sparks debate about women’s attire
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2022 Al Jazeera Media Network
 
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless. You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen.To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.