Biden heads to Capitol Hill as lawmakers mull infrastructure, social spending bills

President Joe Biden. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI

Oct. 1 (UPI) — President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon to meet with Democratic lawmakers as they consider a pair of bills that would carry out his infrastructure and social programs agendas.

The visit comes one day after the House failed to reach a late-night vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and an accompanying $3.5 trillion social spending package.

It’s the second time this week Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called off a planned vote on the infrastructure package, sending lawmakers home around 10 p.m. Thursday. Earlier in the day she appeared confident she’d not only hold an infrastructure vote, but that it would pass her chamber.

CNBC reported that the House was expected to further delay a vote on the infrastructure bill.

Biden’s visit to Capitol Hill could push the Democratic caucus to come to an agreement on the bills. He’s previously spoken with lawmakers over the phone or in White House meetings, and canceled a planned trip to Chicago on Thursday to continue negotiations.

“I’m telling you, we’re going to get this done,” he told reporters as he left the Capitol. “It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in six minutes, six days or six weeks, we’re going to get it done.”

Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., refused to agree to a public framework and a $2.1T target for the broader package. In-person discussions among Manchin, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., late Thursday didn’t yield any results.

Manchin said early Thursday he wouldn’t support a social spending bill that costs more than $1.5 trillion, which is significantly lower than what is proposed.

The infrastructure bill would put billions of dollars into railroads, roads, airports and bridges.

Missing the vote creates a temporary lapse in funding for surface transportation programs and means 4,000 Department of Transportation employees could be furloughed. The authorization needed to be renewed at midnight.

A temporary extension of these programs may pass through the House on Friday and be sent to the Senate.

Lawmakers seek to agree on a framework that would include the total cost of social spending and provisions in major policies such as childcare, paid leave, healthcare and climate change.

“A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday night.

“But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing.”

Lawmakers have managed to avoid a government shutdown with Biden signing a stopgap federal funding bill that carries through early December. But the debt ceiling still needs to be raised with Republican support or the government is at risk to default.


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