Biden: Negotiations over economic agenda at a ‘stalemate’
President Biden on Friday acknowledged it is going to take time to pass his economic agenda following meetings with key Democratic lawmakers this week to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure package and the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
“I think it’s just going to take some time,” Biden said following remarks at the White House about COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a process and it’s going to be up and down. That’s why I don’t look at the polls. Not a joke, because it’s going to go up, it’s going to go down, it’s going to go up, and hopefully at the end of the day I’ll be able to deliver on what I said I would do.”
Biden said the negotiations over his agenda are at a “stalemate,” conveying less optimism than the White House conveyed earlier this week following Wednesday’s meetings.
“Now we’re at this stalemate at the moment and we’re going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed, both need to be passed,” Biden said.
The president’s approval sank to 44 percent this week in a new Pew Research Center poll, a sharp decline in his poll numbers since July.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) plans to hold a vote on Monday on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package, despite calls from progressives to hold it until a deal is set on the reconciliation package.
On Wednesday evening, the White House touted the meetings with lawmakers as “productive and candid” and said the president made “progress” in his push for consensus. Biden held Oval Office meetings with Democratic leadership, moderates, and progressives.
The president said on Friday that his meetings with lawmakers involved him trying to get them to focus on what provisions they want in the reconciliation package, as opposed to the top-line revenue number.
“Forget a number, what do you think we should be doing?” he said. “Some of them, when they go through their priorities, it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) previously said that Biden in the meetings urged a group of moderate lawmakers to come up with a top-line number they would get behind to move the reconciliation bill toward.
The president referred to the reconciliation package on Friday as having “zero price tag” because, he said, “we’re paying, we’re going to pay for everything we spend.”
He reiterated that his plan involves hiring more IRS agents to get the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on Thursday that they reached “an agreement on a framework” with the White House for what proposals would be in the final reconciliation agreement, but that didn’t include an agreement on the top-line revenue number.
“Although we got off to a very fast start with the first piece of legislation … I think it’s just going to take some time,” Biden said on Friday.