Administration

Biden acknowledges economic agenda may not pass this week

President Biden on Monday acknowledged Congress may not get his economic agenda and a government funding deal done by the end of the week, but expressed optimism both would eventually pass.

"It may not be by the end of the week. I hope it's by the end of the week," Biden told reporters after getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. "But as long as we're still alive, we've got three things to do: The debt ceiling, continuing resolution, and the two pieces of legislation. If we do that, the country is going to be in great shape."

Biden and Democrats in Congress are facing a pivotal week for their agenda. They must pass a government funding measure that includes raising the debt ceiling before the fiscal year ends at the end of the month, and the House is expected to vote this week on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that makes up a chunk of Biden's economic agenda.

Democrats are also hoping to vote on a massive reconciliation bill that contains Biden's other economic priorities like child care, health care and climate investments.

The House passed legislation last week to suspend the debt ceiling through 2022 and fund the government through Dec. 3, as well as provide emergency funding for Afghan refugee resettlement and disaster relief. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has teed up a vote to bring up the bill for Monday at 5:30 p.m., but it will fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance amid GOP opposition.

In the House, progressives and moderates are at odds over when to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill versus the larger reconciliation bill. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will start debate on the bipartisan package on Monday and that the bill will get a vote on Thursday, giving leadership a matter of days to work out a thicket of sticking points that are threatening to stall one or both bills. 

Even if the House passes both measures, the reconciliation package must still get 50 votes in the Senate, where Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have expressed reservations about its size.

Asked what's at stake for Biden's agenda and presidency in the coming days, the president said, "Victory."

"You know me. I'm a born optimist," Biden told reporters. "I think things are going to go well. I think we're going to get it done. I have meetings tonight, tomorrow and for the next little bit."

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