President Biden was on his way to Rome today but stopped by the Capitol first to try to convince Democratic lawmakers to pass his infrastructure bill this week without a done deal on his larger reconciliation package.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal passed the Senate earlier this year but has been held up in the House, as progressive lawmakers vowed not to sign off until there is agreement on the social spending plan that constitutes the second piece of Biden’s Build Back Better economic agenda.
In place of a definitive agreement on the social spending plan, Biden announced a $1.75 trillion framework today that he expects will gain the support of all Democrats in the House and Senate (See related story in Inroads). Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) both said it’s important that the president be able to show progress on his economic agenda ahead of two global summits in Europe this week.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the [Democratic] House and Senate majorities – and my presidency – will be determined by what happens in the next week,” Biden told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting today reported on by the Washington Post.
Pelosi told her caucus yesterday that the House is “facing a crucial deadline” for the infrastructure bill to pass. “To do so, we must have trust and confidence in an agreement for the Build Back Better Act,” she said.
It does not appear that Biden’s appearance at the Capitol today will be enough to sway progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill this week. The $1.75 trillion social spending plan that Biden discussed today is dramatically smaller than the original $3.5 trillion package that liberal lawmakers want to see enacted.
“We have had a position of needing to see the legislative text and voting on both bills, and we’ll see where people are, but I think a lot of people are still in that place,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), leader of the 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus.