White House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package ‘closing’
The White House said Tuesday that President Biden is “more confident” about the path forward for his sweeping economic agenda after a day of meetings with lawmakers while underscoring that “the window for finalizing a package is closing.”
“After a day of constructive meetings, the President is more confident this evening about the path forward to delivering for the American people on strong, sustained economic growth that benefits everyone,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday evening, after Biden met with 19 House and Senate lawmakers in separate meetings at the White House.
“There was broad agreement that there is urgency in moving forward over the next several days and that the window for finalizing a package is closing,” Psaki said.
The statement reflects a renewed sense of both optimism and urgency surrounding Biden’s domestic agenda, which has been held up in negotiations on Capitol Hill amid disagreements between moderates and progressives on the size, scope and timing of a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social spending and climate package that Democrats intend to pass without Republican support through budget reconciliation.
The discussions have largely focused on nailing down a compromise that will appease centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), both of whom Biden met with at the White House on Tuesday. The president also met with a group of progressive House lawmakers and a group of moderates separately.
Emerging from the earlier meeting, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reiterated that Biden said the reconciliation package would need to be in the range of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion, rather than the $3.5 trillion price tag that Democrats initially advocated.
Progressives sounded optimistic about the path forward following the meeting with Biden. Democrats are working to find ways to scale back the package in order to reach a compromise. One of the key climate measures in the package, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, is expected to be cut.
Manchin told Democrats that he is engaging in talks with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in order to make progress in breaking the stalemate.
Psaki did not offer specific details on the discussions beyond saying that they “focused around a shared commitment to the care economy, ensuring working families have more breathing room, addressing the climate crisis, and investing in industries of the future so that we can compete globally.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said on CNN following the meeting that Biden urged lawmakers to come together on an agreement before he departs for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow scheduled to begin at the end of the month.
“He said, the prestige of the United States is on the line. I need this to go represent the United States overseas. I need people to see that the Democratic Party is working, that the country is working, that we can govern,” Khanna said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also set a deadline of Oct. 31 to vote on the infrastructure deal, which progressives have refused to vote in favor of without an agreement on the bigger package.
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