Administration

Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week

President Biden spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday about Democrats' reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The White House framed it as a "positive discussion" of the progress advancing Biden's economic agenda, after a week in which several House committees marked up portions of the massive $3.5 trillion social spending and climate package that Democrats intend to pass through budget reconciliation.

"The three discussed their ongoing coordination and outreach around making the case for building an economy that delivers for the middle class, and those seeking to get there, and not just those at the top by passing an historic tax cut for middle-class families and small businesses while cutting the costs of prescription drugs, care for children and older Americans, education, housing, and healthcare, while tackling the climate crisis," the White House said in a readout of the conversation, which took place Thursday afternoon.

 

"They also reaffirmed that, as we act at this crucial moment to ensure working families are dealt back into our economy, it is only fair that we pay for these tax cuts and investments by repealing the Trump tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, who often pay little to nothing in taxes," the readout said, noting that Biden and the two Democratic leaders are "in regular touch and engaging daily." 

The three spoke by phone while Pelosi was overseas meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The group also discussed passing a continuing resolution to fund the government before funding lapses at the end of September as well as efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the White House said.

The White House has pressed Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a bipartisan fashion, but Republicans say they will not do so.

"These are bipartisan responsibilities, especially given that a substantial debt was run up during the previous administration in pursuit of COVID relief and other measures, that received bipartisan support," the administration said, according to the read out. "Any suggestion by Republicans that they will shirk their responsibility is indefensible."

 

Biden on Wednesday held separate private meetings with centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) at the White House. Both senators have raised concerns about the $3.5 trillion price tag of the reconciliation package. Passing the bill hinges on getting every Democratic senator and virtually ever House lawmaker to vote in favor of it.

Democrats have said Biden will need to become more personally involved in the process to sort out differences among the caucus in order to keep Democrats together to pass the reconciliation package without GOP support.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday afternoon that Biden and White House officials are "engaged with a range of members," to include moderates, progressives, and members of both the Senate and House.

Earlier Thursday, the president also delivered a speech promoting his economic agenda that reiterated his call for Congress to increase taxes on the rich and corporations. Biden has proposed the tax hikes to pay for his agenda. 

House Democrats wrapped up most of their work drafting portions of the reconciliation package this week, but ongoing differences will need to be resolved before the legislation is put to a vote on the floor. 

The infrastructure bill, which contains $550 billion in new spending, has passed the Senate and Pelosi has set a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the package. 

Updated 8:14 p.m.

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