Breaking Stories

Biden will meet with more than a dozen key Democrats as his economic agenda hangs in the balance

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks outside the White House with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – After weeks of rising tensions among congressional Democrats, President Joe Biden is stepping in Wednesday to personally attempt to resolve divisions that are threatening to tear the Democratic caucus apart and tank the president’s first-term domestic agenda.

Biden is hosting key members of at least four warring factions of Democrats in Congress on Wednesday afternoon: Moderates in the House, progressives in the House, moderates in the Senate and progressives in the Senate.

Biden’s goal is to broker a compromise between the different groups, and to find common ground on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3 trillion-plus climate and social safety net bill.

These delicate intra-party negotiations are taking place against the backdrop of two more looming, but unrelated deadlines: A Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown, and a likely mid-October deadline to raise the debt-ceiling or risk the United States defaulting on its sovereign debt.

Each of these issues, the debt ceiling and the annual government funding bill, has traditionally required high-wire negotiations of its between Congress and the White House. But neither of them will be Biden’s priority on Wednesday.

While the specifics change hour-by-hour, at the heart of the tension within the Democratic caucuses is that House moderates don’t want to vote for a huge green energy and education bill until their priority – a bipartisan infrastructure bill – passes the House first.

But House progressives don’t want to vote in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill until their top priority, the social safety net legislation, passes the Senate.

The schedule of Biden’s meetings on Wednesday is also relevant. Biden will be meeting with moderate Democrats first, and then progressives later on in the day.

This suggests that moderates will get a chance to explain to Biden what their red lines are. And then after that, Biden will work with progressives to determine what other ways they might incorporate progressive priorities into the huge bills, such that enough progressives can come to see the bills as a victory for their priorities.

It also signals that the progressives, who outnumber moderates in the House, will get the last word.

Starting at 2:00 p.m. ET, the president will huddle with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi’s meeting with Biden comes as she decides whether to uphold a pledge to centrists to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill on Monday, Sept. 27.

House progressives have threatened to sink that vote if the Senate doesn’t pass their social safety net and climate policy bill by Monday.

But given the complicated rules governing a big social safety net bill (which needs to be written in the style of a budget bill), Senate Democrats see no way that they could finish crafting the bill and vote on it before Monday.

Following the Pelosi and Schumer meeting, Biden will meet with a group of moderate Democrats from the House and Senate, according to NBC News.

First, the centrists

Moderates include Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat who insisted that Pelosi schedule the Monday infrastructure vote. Also coming to the White House are centrist Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Steven Horsford of Nevada.

The two most watched Democratic members of the Senate, centrist Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, will also attend this meeting, slated to start around 3:30 p.m.

Both Manchin and Sinema have taken issue with the social safety net bill’s proposed $3.5 trillion price tag. Manchin has even urged his party to wait for months to pass the bill – something that infuriates House progressives. They worry that if they vote to pass the centrists’ infrastructure bill now, without seeing the reconciliation bill pass first, then party leaders will water down the bill containing their priorities in order to win Manchin’s approval.

If either Sinema or Manchin votes against the big budget reconciliation bill, it would doom the plan.

This is likely part of the reason the president has included two more centrist Democrats in this big meeting: Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mark Warner, D-Va.

Warner and Tester both helped to craft the bipartisan infrastructure bill with Republicans earlier this summer, and are known for their skill at negotiating different interests within the party.

Then, the progressives

Later in the day, Biden will huddle with key progressives.

One of the them will be Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Jayapal leads the House faction demanding the Senate vote on the big House budget bill before she and her fellow progressives will come together to pass the infrastructure bill in the House.

On Tuesday evening. Jayapal met with Pelosi for more than an hour, and emerged confident Pelosi would not move forward with the infrastructure bill – something to which Pelosi has not publicly agreed.

“I don’t think the speaker is going to bring a bill up that is going to fail,” Jayapal told reporters, adding, “Our position has not changed.”

In addition to his in-person meeting with Jayapal, Biden will also speak with several of the most influential progressives in the Senate: Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Sanders and Wyden are both playing pivotal roles in crafting the spending and taxing provisions in the Democratic bill. But they are also key voices for the progressive wing of the Democratic party across both chambers in Congress.

Murray leads the committee with jurisdiction over several key provisions in the budget bill that matter most to House progressives: Childcare subsidies, health insurance affordability, early education and free community college.

– CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report

What's your reaction?

Excited
0
Happy
0
In Love
0
Not Sure
0
Silly
0

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *