President Biden will journey to Capitol Hill on Thursday to implore House Democrats to strike a deal on two of his top domestic priorities: a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and a broader social welfare package.
Mr. Biden is set to address the House Democratic Conference, before leaving for an extended overseas trip. During his remarks, the president is expected to stress the need for Democratic unity in getting his legislation across the finish line.
“Universal preschool. Historic climate investments. Lower health care costs,” Mr. Biden wrote on social media. “They’re all within our reach. Let’s bring these bills over the finish line.”
The visit comes after a day of tense negotiations between Democrats over the White House’s nearly $2 trillion spending bill. While lawmakers have made progress on the bill, significant disagreements remain over what is to be included and how it will be funded.
Far-left lawmakers promise to oppose the bill unless it includes long-sought liberal priorities, like a federal guarantee for every worker to get four weeks of paid leave. Moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, say the price tag should be no higher than $1.5 trillion.
Since Democrats are planning to push the package through Congress along party lines using budget reconciliation, a process allowing spending measures to pass the 50-50 Senate by a simple majority, Mr. Biden cannot afford any disunity.
In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Biden is expected to appeal directly to his party’s far-left faction, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Not only will the president urge compromise on the reconciliation package, but he’s expected to press for a timely vote on the infrastructure deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is aiming to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill by the end of the week. Mrs. Pelosi wants to secure its passage before federal funding for roads and highways runs out at the end of this month.
The infrastructure bill passed the Senate this summer but has been sitting idle in the House.
The 98-member CPC has threatened to withhold its support until moderate Democrats agree to a reconciliation framework. They say that while a reconciliation package does not have to pass the Senate beforehand, an agreement needs to be in place before any votes take place in the House.
Complicating matters is that liberals are unwilling to accept anything short of full legislative text on the reconciliation deal, which could take weeks to produce. Mrs. Pelosi has sought to broker a deal in which liberals would offer their votes for the infrastructure bill upon agreement on a broad reconciliation framework.
“We’ve had frameworks for the last six months tossed around and we haven’t had a vote, so I don’t think a framework is enough,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. “What we need is text.”
Progressives are further demanding that the infrastructure pass bill alongside the reconciliation package within the House.
“I don’t really care which one [comes first] if they’re on the same day and you want to vote on the [infrastructure bill] first and the reconciliation bill three hours later,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat, who chairs the CPC. “We need to get both bills out. We want to get both bills out.”